Our racing expert marks your card for this evening's jumps action at Exeter.
It could be worth giving LIP SERVICE another chance when he runs in the feature 2m3f handicap chase at Exeter this evening. The Fergal O’Brien-trained nine-year-old has proved disappointing on his three British starts to date, including when letting down favourite backers on his penultimate outing at Sandown on heavy ground. It was riding soft on his most recent outing in a handicap chase at Market Rasen and he never looked happy, eventually pulling up before three out.
However, today’s better ground (officially ‘good’ at the time of writing) could be the key to a much better display as all his best runs over fences in Ireland were on such a surface. That’s no surprise as he is by Presenting, whose progeny tend to favour top of the ground, and if indeed that is the key to him he looks handicapped to take advantage. With his stable in fine form (3-11 in the past fortnight) and Paddy Brennan back on board, he’s worth risking at the odds.
The 2m7f handicap hurdle has drawn a big field of 15 and plenty can be fancied, but Philip Hobbs’ CONTENTED is the one I like most for several reasons. For one, the five-year-old is far less exposed than some of these and is surely capable of better than he’s shown so far. That’s still pretty decent as he was a ready winner at Sedgefield in December, having chased home a decent sort at Taunton previously, and we can forgive him his subsequent well beaten effort when favourite at Wincanton on bottomless ground.
NNow 3lb lower in the weights, he should be cherry ripe following his comeback run over a half mile shorter at Ayr 17 days ago when giving the impression he was ready for a step up to this sort of trip. Furthermore, his stable is in even better form now, with Hobbs’ 32 runners in the last fortnight yielding nine winners (32%) and he is reaching for first-time blinkers to help sharpen the gelding up. With the champion jockey up top, the selection really has plenty going for him and not least his each-way price.
Harry Fry’s record at the track speaks for itself – he’s trained 28 winners over the past five seasons at a strike rate of 36%, with all his runners yielding a £1 level-stakes profit of £53.78 – and that’s reason enough to give his JEREMIAH JAMES serious consideration in the closing bumper. On closer inspection, the four-year-old also has the right sort of pedigree for the job, being out of Group winner Jeremy and a half-brother to useful bumper winner House Rules. The market will prove the best guide to his chances, as is always the case in these type of races and, should it speak positively, I wouldn’t want to be on anything else.
All odds were correct at time of posting.