PADDOCKS PATENT (THURSDAY)
For my first selection today we are heading to Exeter for a handicap hurdle run over two miles and one furlong.
Heading the market here is the Venetia Williams trained Locnagar who arrives here on the back an emphatic nine length victory. The gelding got a thirteen pound rise for that success but only carries a seven pound penalty, so is essentially six pound well in here. While he is the most likely winner , I am always hesitant in backing horses who get a hike as big as that from the handicapper and there is not a great deal of value in the price either. For that reason I would be prepared to look towards one of the others in this.
The one that catches the eye most in this is the Victor Dartnell trained Shammick Boy who is on a competitive mark again. The 9yo was rated ten pounds higher this time last season and the run last time out was the first time he showed anything in a while. The son of Craigsteel actually ran in this race last year but could only manage a sixth place finish. He did however have to carry top weight and that came off a thirteen pound higher mark. With a clear round he should have a say in proceedings here and is certainly handicapped well enough to win.
Of the remainder the Philip Hobbs trained four year old Pull The Chord appeals most.
Shammick Boy (WIN)
We stay at Exeter for my second selection, a three runner Graduation chase run over two miles one furlong and 110 yards.
I think very little separates the three runners on ability shown over fences to date but I would have Brick Red coming out the best horse, but only just. I think what sets him out from the other two runners is that he has race sharpness on his side here and that could give him a big advantage. The yard is in decent enough form at the moment and as long as a sound round of jumping is put in, he could prove hard to beat here.
The enigmatic Mr Mole returns from a 237 day absence and while he has won on debut for the last two seasons, this looks a much tougher debut race. The Nicholls yard has been among the winners of late so the gelding is sure to have some say in the finish.
The last horse in the race is Open Hearted which is owned by the Queen and he returns from nearly a year off. I think that he could possibly be the one that will need the run most after such a long lay off.
Brick Red (WIN)
For my last selection we head to Towcester for a low grade handicap chase run over two miles three furlongs and 110 yards.
Heading the betting is Vinnieslittle Lamb who comes here on the back of a win where he had two of today’s opponents in behind. While he may be capable of winning here again, I think he looks handicapped up to the best of what he has shown. For that reason I would be prepared to look for a bit of each way value.
The one that catches the eye in this is the Tony Carroll trained Thinger Licht who I think we might see in a much better light now stepped back up in trip. While the gelding has failed to live up to the same form that he showed in France, his two best runs have come at this venue. I am hoping that he can at least hit the frame but I think he has enough in his locker to win this.
Of the remainder, Wicklewood and Top Benefit are weighted to finish much closer to Vinnieslittle Lamb while I Know The Code also has each way claims.
Thinger Licht (E/W)