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Tuesday 21 April 2015

Sparkling Can Show Her Hand

In the Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (2.55) at Perth on Wednesday, Sparkling Hand has been in excellent form since returning to action, after nearly a year off, at Newcastle in February and can complete a hat-trick. The Lend A Hand mare has won two similar races, over 2 miles 4 furlongs and 2 miles 1 furlongs, at Sedgefield off progressively higher marks in recent months and may be capable of defying a further 9lb rise.

Peter Atkinson’s 9-year-old has done all her winning on galloping, testing tracks, so it’ll be interesting to see how she fares around the sweeping turns at Perth. Nevertheless, she seems better than ever this season, so deserves another chance to prove that she’s equally effective here as elsewhere. Underfoot conditions may be a little faster than she’s encountered recently, but the prevailing going is good, good to soft in places, so she shouldn’t be unduly inconvenienced.

Consistency has never really been her strong suit, but Henry Brooke, who’s ridden her to both victories this season and has a 4-9 (44%) strike rate for the yard over hurdles, once again takes the ride, so she looks decent value at around 6/1 in the early price lists.

Selection: Perth 2.55 Sparkling Hand to win

Monday 13 April 2015

Adrenalin Can Put Rivals to Flight

The Bathwick Tyres Marathon Handicap Chase (3.00) at Exeter on Tuesday isn’t a strong contest for the grade and may provide Adrenalin Flight with an opportunity to supplement his win over 4 miles on the course in December. Seamus Mullins’ 9-year-old is in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday but, with just 8st 13lb in the long handicap, he has little or no chance of getting in and should find this a far, far easier assignment in any case.

The Dr. Massini gelding remains 7lb higher in the weights than his winning mark and needs to bounce back from two quieter efforts at Warwick, but he has stamina in abundance, so the return to this undulating, testing track should be in his favour. He’s yet to win on going faster than good, but has run well enough, in just three attempts, on good to firm going to suggest he won’t be inconvenienced by underfoot conditions.

Five wins from 29 starts is hardly prolific, but three of those wins have come in the spring or summer and trainer Seamus Mullins seems quite keen on his chance, so the 6/1 available in the early price lists could prove to be decent value.

Selection: Exeter 3.00 Adrenalin Flight to win

Sunday 5 April 2015

Monday's Tip - Just A Par Probably Good Enough

In the Barton Executive Valeting Handicap Chase (2.40), Just A Par has failed to trouble the judge in eight starts since winning a Grade 2 novices’ event at Newbury on his second start of last season, but faces his easiest assignment for some time and can make a belated return to the winners’ enclosure. Paul Nicholls’ 8-year-old lost all chance when badly hampered at the fourth last in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival last time, but his previous handicap form at Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day makes encouraging reading.

On that occasion, the Island House gelding stayed on at the same pace to finish fourth, beaten 4¼ lengths, behind Mon Parrain over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, but has done all his winning at 3 miles or shorter and takes a slight drop in class. Conditional jockey Sean Bowen, who has ridden at 8st 13lb in the last twelve months, presumably had the option of riding Velator for his father, Peter, so the hint may be worth taking. Certainly, Bowen Jnr. has been amongst the winners for Paul Nicholls in recent weeks, so Just A Par looks fair value at around 6/1 in the early price lists.

Selection: Chepstow 2.40 Just A Par to win

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Marju’s Quest Still in the Hunt

In the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle (3.50) at Taunton on Thursday, Marju’s Quest may have pulled too hard for his own good when joint favourite, but only fifth of ten, beaten 13 lengths, behind Prouts Pub at Fontwell twelve days ago and can make amends. David Dennis’ 5-year-old appears to benefit from strong handling, as he did when making all under Noel Fehily to win by 5 lengths, over 2 miles 1 furlong, on his last visit to the Somerset track.

The Marju gelding is 7lb higher in the weights this time, but deserves another chance to show his true colours over this sort of distance at this level. He’s won on good to firm, and even firm, going on the Flat, so should have no problem with underfoot conditions and Noel Fehily is 4-17 (24%) on hurdlers for the Hanley Swan yard, so he has plenty going for him.

Hallings Comet usually goes off like the proverbial scalded cat, so competition for the lead is almost guaranteed, but Marju’s Quest doesn’t need to make the running and may, indeed, benefit from being ridden with a little more restraint. Making excuses for beaten horses is often the direct route to the poorhouse, but he seems fair value at around the 6/1 mark in the early price lists.

Selection: Taunton 3.50 Marju’s Quest to win