There’s plenty of informative racing today from Naas with our Cheltenham Festival Focus ante-post selection Gaillard Du Mesnill making his eagerly awaited chase debut at 14:00. Still, our primary focus, as always, will be here in Britain.
I was slightly disappointed with our two bets yesterday. Head Law looked like a promising horse to keep on side, and he had me counting my cash on the approach to the last, but it wasn’t to be – perhaps that wind issue is not fully sorted?
Anyway, on to today!
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Today, trainer Nicky Martin sends just one runner to Ffos Las in Just Loose Change 26.025/1 for the 13:50 Happy 50th Birthday Birdie Novices’ Hurdle. The trainer has a 40% strike rate, scoring with four of her ten runners, and three of those have been over hurdles.
In the 14:55 vickers.bet Odds Guaranteed Every Race Handicap Chase, trainer Rebecca Curtis saddles Ranieri 11.010/1, and she has a 29% strike rate over fences at Ffos Las.
All eight of the runners in the 15:25 vickers.bet Live Casino And Slots “Newcomers” National Hunt Flat Race are unraced, but trainer Warren Greatrex has an excellent 25% strike rate with bumper runners at Ffos Las and he saddles Bamford Edge 5.04/1.
At Exeter today, expensive GBP150,000 2018 Cheltenham November sale purchase Bold Conduct 5.04/1 will look to build on his promising first run under rules. His run last month came off the back of a 1,000-daybreak and is surely open to further improvement in the 12:30 Get Daily Tips At racingtv.com Maiden Hurdle.
Lucy and Trans Express hoping for a final hurragh
In the 13:05 Feeling Festive Handicap Hurdle, 11-year-old Trans Express 8.07/1 has recently looked like his age may be catching up with him, but he is looking to win this race remarkably for the fifth consecutive year.
The loveable Exeter favourite is looking for his sixth-course win today under jockey Lucy Gardener who has ridden him to all seven of his career successes.
It’s a very tricky race, and I like Pol Crocan 21.020/1 at a price, but a win for Trans Express would raise the roof.
Trainer Ian Williams sends just the one runner to Chelmsford today, and the trainer has a 26% strike rate with his three-year-olds. He sends Justus 15.014/1 in the 18:00 weatherbysshop.co.uk Handicap.
Horses for courses
This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.
13:05 Exeter – Trans Express – Has won here five times (36%)
13:05 Exeter – Martinhal – Has won here twice (100%)
14:45 Exeter – Tudors Treasure – Has won here three times (50%)
18:35 Chelmsford – International Angel – Has won here three times (100%)
Weighted to go well
“Weighted to go well” highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.
13:05 Exeter – West To The Bridge – Has won off 133 runs off 123
13:31 Southwell – Qaaraat – Has won off 62 runs off 51
14:45 Exeter – Allardyce – Has won off 116 runs off 100
15:06 Southwell – Cold Harbour – Has won off 62 runs off 51
15:15 Exeter – Airton – Has won off 101 runs off 83
This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.
Trainer Olly Murphy continues to fire in the winners and is currently operating at a 20% strike rate. Today he sends one runner to Exeter – World Trip 3.55/2 in the 15:15 Like Racing TV On Facebook Now Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
His runner looks to be one of a handful in with a chance, and the return to a softer surface looks a positive to his chances.
Trainer Phillip Kirby is today’s furthest traveller with his two runners at Ffos Las. Kirby runs Be The Difference 1.84/5 in the 12:10 Cazoo Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and Another Theatre 8.07/1 in the 14:25 vickers.bet Independent Family Run Bookmakers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
Race of the day
We head to Exeter, where the 13:40 Join Us On New Year’s Day At Exeter Handicap Chase will prove to be a real test of stamina, and it is worth noting that seven of the 18 runners are making their reappearance after more the 250 days off the track.
That may not be such a concern for the David Pipe runner New Age Dawning 12.011/1 given the yard can ready one first time up, and he did look a bright prospect three years ago when last seen, but this is a big, big ask off a 1000 daybreak.
The absence will not prove an issue for No Rematch either, given he won in good style on chase debut off a similar break back in February, and he loves testing ground.
The handicapper has given him a nine pounds rise for his runaway Chepstow victory, and a good hurdle runner-up effort on his penultimate start will hold him in good stead today.
He is completely unexposed over this trip, and he could have a good deal more to come should he be straight for this.
Arian is an interesting runner now stepping up to this distance for the first time. She has shaped like a stern test of stamina would suit her, and she has a fitness edge against many of her rivals. She is one pound higher than when falling at Cheltenham last season in a mares event when looking all over the winner.
Her staying on second at Ffos Las would give backers confidence that she will relish this new trip, and although she hasn’t won right-handed, she hasn’t had the ideal opportunity on a stiff track, such as today.
She’s a fascinating runner and has few negatives to her chances.
It was a sloppy mistake from Morning Spirit at Aintree on Chase debut, but it did look like a heavy fall, and it’s difficult to know how a Novice will react next time.
This is highly competitive, but he has an excellent shout on the bare form, and his chase debut was not devoid of promise.
He just might be best watched today, though.
Big race verdict
You will need to stay longer than the mother in law to win this contest, and while I am drawn to the chances of ARIAN, I can’t help but think NO REMATCH has more to come. He looks an out and out stayer, and he showed a real liking for fences at Chepstow on his first attempt, and his response for pressure was impressive. Although he has won off a similar lay-off before, it’s not guaranteed that he will be fully wound up, so perhaps a small bet on the pair is the wisest move.
Timeform offer up three of their best at Chelmsford
Timeform’s Andrew Asquith highlights a Nap and Next Best selection at Chelmsford on Thursday.
Maskada to produce the magic at Exeter
The 14:15 EBF Mares’ Novices’ Chase looks like a smashing opportunity for Maskada to get off the mark over fences at the third attempt.
She has bumped into some useful rivals in her two starts to date but showed that she is sure to be a better chaser than a hurdler with some fluent jumping.
She shaped as though she needed the run and the experience on seasonal return when third to Faivoir and Annual Invictus. The winner has since scored again and is rated 145, while the runner-up scored the next twice and is rated 143.
Next time, she jumped like an old pro but was outstayed by the useful The Glancing Queen, who won the next time out and is rated 143. The pair pulled nine lengths clear of the third, who bolted up in a handicap chase next time by 11 lengths and is now rated 135.
Her form looks remarkably solid and easily is the best in today’s contest. She is only one pound off top-rated; however, today’s top-rated horse has earned her stripes over hurdles and was rated 123 before her last win at Punchestown in May and is making her chase debut.
She has a fitness edge over Deja Vue, and her other two rivals lack experience in this sphere and make their debuts. She is a front runner, and she can put these newcomers to the test and anything 2.01/1 upwards is acceptable.
This is a strong fancy.
I am afraid there is no final philosophical word today, as full attention turns to the weekend’s racing.
I am still trying to get my head around why Buzz is a strong favourite for a Saturday’s Long Walk Hurdle. He has never run over the trip, and this is a big step up in grade, yet he is as short as 13/8 – that’s indeed wrong.
Anyway, have an excellent day, remember you get out what you put in and most importantly of all, be lucky.
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