High hopes for Appleby on fibresand

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It must be sodden down in South Wales to have Ffos Las abandoned, leaving this afternoon’s action from Fakenham and Southwell respectively.

The latter looks sure to go ahead irrespective of the weather forecast and could prove yet another successful day on the fibresand for trainer Mick Appleby.

The Newark-handler recorded a double on the corresponding card last term, including Queen of Skies (1.15) winning the mile handicap, and she looks well-treated to land the opening 7f handicap under Liam Jones.

The 6-y-o was well-backed before scoring at the track on her seasonal reappearance last month and should be able to go in again from a 2lb higher mark. The mare has a terrific record at the track finishing in the first two home in her five of her seven starts and ought to give another bold bid once more.

Excelling Oscar clearly loves the surface and was impressive when landing a course and distance handicap last month, however a 6lb rise should halt his progress and preference lay with Bannister Bell (2.15) under the evergreen John Egan. David Evans’ Holy Roman Emperor colt has finished in the frame on his last two starts at the track and, with the yard in good nick, he has obvious claims from an unrevised mark.

The Lucy Wadham stable remain in excellent fettle and her Lanceur (1.05) can lower the colours of John Ferguson’s Zip Top in the opening 2m Maiden Hurdle over at Fakenham.

Jockey Leighton Aspell retains the ride after partnering the 6-y-o to an excellent second behind Jollyallan on his debut over timber last time out at Newbury and he can make it second time lucky at the trainer’s winning-most track. The Ferguson charge was G1-placed on the flat and warrants maximum respect under Champion Jockey AP McCoy however looked far from fluent on his debut over timber last month at Kempton, in admittedly a hotter race.

The pair can double up with A Boy Named Suzi (1.35) under a penalty in the novices’ hurdle over two and a half miles. The son of Medecis was rated 98 on the flat with Andrew Balding, finishing his career off in that sphere running in the G2 Yorkshire Cup in May 2013 before making his belated debut over hurdles in December. He built on an excellent second behind Aqalim by winning a competitive novices’ hurdle at Wetherby over Christmas and looks the ideal type to improve now stepped up in trip.

Five go to post for the handicap chase over two and three quarter miles with course and distance winner Midnight Charmer (2.40) taken to complete a third Fakenham success under regular partner James Banks. The selection bolted-up from Alirght Benny (subsequently won twice since) in October but has disappointed thereafter, running poorly on ground softer than ideal at Wincanton, Warwick and Uttoxeter respectively. The handicapper has dropped him 2lb for those efforts and back on his preferred better ground, and a track that brings the best out of him, Emma Baker’s charge can return to winning ways.

Master Rajeem will be fancied under a penalty in the lucky last however a chance is taken on Trafalgar (3.50) for the all-conquering team of Harry and Dan Skelton. The selection looks sure to get his preferred better ground and is well-handicapped to be competitive. The 8-y-o hasn’t got his head in front since winning in October 2013 but is has trickled down the weights and should go close for an in-form yard.

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