Knight of Noir could prove the pick of the David Pipe quartet
Pertemps Network Final, 2m4f, New Course (due off 2.05pm)
This the first of Thursday’s three impossible-looking handicaps so good luck if you’re on the favourite, which is either Edeymi or Call The Cops currently – depending on where you bet. The former looks to have been laid out for the race by his ultra-shrewd handler Tony Martin, having caught the eye of the stewards when tenderly ridden over a similar trip at Musselburgh last time. Before that he has finished down the field in a Leopardstown qualifier, which is in common with previous Irish winners. He has just sneaked in at the bottom of the weights.
Nicky Henderson’s Call The Cops was fourth in a Kempton qualifier before picking up a penalty for an easy victory at Doncaster, where he showed his appreciation for better ground. Until Fingal Bay (9/2f) obliged 12 months ago this has been a graveyard for favourites with eight winners starting at 14/1 or bigger.
Who else is fancied?
Where do you start? Philip Hobbs’ Big Easy has more obvious claims than some of the others as he’s been in good form all season, including when finishing second in the Fixed Brush Hurdle (which has produced three of the last five winners), and has festival form having come sixth in the Coral Cup (2m5f). He will be suited by this longer trip.
Regal Encore seemed to relish a stamina test when winning an Exeter qualifier last time and will have the services of AP. Brother Brian scored on good ground at Cheltenham in April (2m4f) and he too should appreciate the step up in trip. Dawalan has shot up the weights after winning his last two starts but he’s far from exposed over three miles and may have more to give.
Any decent outsiders?
Nothing can be ruled out with total confidence and we’ve had 25/1 and 50/1 winners in the last decade, so don’t be put off if you fancy one at bigger odds. David Pipe won back-to-back renewals (2010/11) with Buena Vista and he saddles four in this, with his Bygones Sovereign chasing a hat-trick after wins at Newbury and Haydock. On both occasions he poached an early lead and was never caught and it’s hard to see those tactics working again here – though you wouldn’t rule it out!
His stablemate Knight Of Noir is even more interesting as he qualified with an eye-catching sixth at Exeter and has twice finished second at Cheltenham this season. He wouldn’t be the best handicapped horse in the field but he should be suited by the big field and likely strong pace. For the record the other Pipe runners are Katkeau (disappointing last time) and Unique Des Cottes, a ridiculously easy winner at Ascot last time over shorter. One other (and it’s entirely possible I haven’t mentioned the winner yet!); last year’s third Trustan Times, who lines up off a 2lb lower mark.
Trainer quote: “Last time they didn’t go very quick at Exeter before sprinting. He wants an end-to-end gallop, which he’ll get, and he handles the track.” – David Pipe on Knight Of Noir
Best bookie offer
Several firms are offering five places – and rightly so – and each-way backers shouldn’t go anywhere else. Currently they are: bet365, Boylesports, BetVictor and Winner.
Take your pick from a dozen or so but this is a tipping piece, so it’s KNIGHT OF NOIR at tasty odds. Big Easy would be the second choice.
Selection – Knight Of Noir @ 25/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 18.104.22.168.5)