Our racing expert is taking on a couple of favourites this afternoon.
David Pipe has his string firing on all cylinders and all three stable runners at Exeter this afternoon are worth a second look.
Brook (handicap chase) and Dusk Till Dawn (novices’ handicap hurdle) should go well, but it’s stablemate TWENTYTWO’S TAKEN who interests me most in the 2m City Of Exeter Challenge Cup Handicap Hurdle (due off 2.30pm).
The eight-year-old mare has been off the track for 340 days and a market check is therefore advised before going in – she’s around 7/1 currently and any drift from that price would be a concern. That said, fitness is rarely an issue for one from this stable and she does have a good record fresh, winning a bumper on her racecourse debut in Ireland and a Fakenham maiden hurdle after a three-month break.
There’s more to like as she is a course and distance winner on soft ground (impressive to boot!) and is taking a drop in class today, having been tried in Listed company on her last three starts, including races at Cheltenham (fourth of eight, beaten 12 and a half lengths) and Newbury, where she finished seventh of the 17 runners having raced keenly.
The handicapper hasn’t dropped her for her absence but even so there should be some mileage in her current mark of 125 given that Some Plan, the horse she beat 10 lengths on her debut, is now rated in the 140s. With talented conditional David Noonan taking 5lb off her back and her ability to handle the conditions proven, I fancy she can provide her bang-in-form trainer with another winner.
Harry Fry’s Space Oddity looks a big danger and is the forecast favourite, though he takes a fierce grip and only won a class 4 at Taunton on his latest start by a neck. It was a cracking ride from Noel Fehily to get him home on that occasion and he will have his work cut out to repeat the feat in this better race and on this stiffer track.
There are three all-weather meetings today, which is strange scheduling when you consider that the turf flat season started at Redcar on Monday – in case you hadn’t noticed! It’s all a bit pathetic really but let’s not dwell on that and back a 4/1 winner instead, hopefully.
That looks a fair price for James Tate’s PIRATE’S TREASURE given that the colt is chasing a hat-trick in the 1m handicap at Southwell (4.30pm), where he began his winning run in February having shown promise in maidens previously. His margin of victory was just a neck on and it was only a head that separated him from the second Manjaam (a winner since) at Wolverhampton on his next start, having
been produced late on both occasions.
In truth, he looks a tricky ride and he’d probably stop if getting to the front too soon. However, horses like that tend to stay one step ahead of the handicapper – he’s only 6lb higher than when his winning run started – and he’s also better drawn in stall four than the forecast favourite Secret Insider in one based on results this year. In 6f-1m handicaps of eight runners or more at the track, the inside berth has provided just one winner from 38 runners.