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With doubts about prospects at Haydock it is probably prudent to concentrate on the meeting at Taunton for which the ground is described as good ahead of their seven-race card.
In the opener trainer Warren Greatrex was concerned about the prospect of soft ground for Reilly’s Minor (1.00) at Warwick last time and, in the circumstances, the horse did well to finish second albeit beaten 15 lengths.
The five-year-old is partnered by Harry Cobden which suggests connections are hoping for a big run and he can reward each-way support in this competitive 16-runner conditional jockey’s handicap.
Song Of The Night (1.30) has been raised 4lbs since finishing runner up over C&D last time but the selection is only a five-year-old and is open to more improvement.
The obvious danger is Yur Next who won over C&D at the last meeting here, but finished behind the selection on his penultimate start and is now 1lb worse off taking jockey’s allowances into consideration.
A market move for Paul Nicholls Clo Sacre would be worth noting, but he pulled too hard on his debut under rules and will have to settle much better than he did at Chepstow in October. Dashing Oscar and Phobiaphillac are dual winners but both would be giving more weight to The Unit (2.00) than today’s 4lbs if this were a handicap.
The selection looked as if he would win easily over 2m 5f last month at Doncaster but just clung on in the end, and this drop back in trip should suit Alan King’s five-year-old.
Behind The Wire (2.30) will appreciate today’s better ground and is taken to reverse Uttoxeter form with the mare Altesse De Guye who is not overly big but jumped well at the Staffordshire track on her chase debut and todays better ground will certainly not be an inconvenience.
I just feel this good ground will also suit Behind The Wire, who is 3lbs better off with the Martin Keighley runner, and perhaps has more scope for fences than the mare who does get on very well with jockey Andrew Tinkler.
The listed Mares’ Novices Hurdle is the feature and it is a top class renewal with three quality mares in opposition. I know connections of Theatre Territory think she could be top class but, despite giving weight away all round, I just favour the chances of Dusky Legend (3.30) who finished second to the high-class La Bague Au Roi (received 3lbs) at Newbury last month.
The selection should have the race run to suit with Nicholls’ unexposed Coillte Lass likely to ensure a true test and this should give jockey Wayne Hutchinson something to aim at in the short home straight.
The penultimate race is a terrific handicap chase and a big run is expected from Silver Commander who looked rusty following a long lay-off at Exeter last time. He looks sure to improve but I just favour Boa Island (3.30) over Kerrow with the hope that the selection can get a soft lead and Harry Cobden can dictate things from the front.
The recommendation did finish ahead of Kerrow in a slowly run race at Chepstow last time and the latter may not be suited by today’s tight turns as much as the champion trainer’s representative who has won at Wincanton earlier in the season.
If Haydock does get the green light look out for Burtons Well in the 2m 4f handicap chase although, at the time of writing, prospects of racing don’t look particularly bright.
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