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It was a decent Sunday with two winners. The first winner from the Gary Moore stable was yet another massive drifter, but it goes to show you can't fully trust the market. Haut Folin was strongly supported in the market and won nicely for the inform Venetia yard. Elegant Escape was ridiculously well backed from 16/1 to 5/1 but was PU and it's probably the last time we'll see him on a racecourse.
It's very rare to see me pick five horses these days, especially on a Monday where racing is usually awful, but today looks like a decent day of racing and I've hopefully found some winners.
Fakenham 12:55 – King Otis 2/1 (1pt)
With races like this you're prone to having one or two ahead of the handicapper, some who have shown little and then miraculously bounce to form, that could be Sailed Away and another could be Pure Bubbles, but with 2/1 available on King Otis I think that is too good of odds to look elsewhere.
King Otis was like the horses I named above when he won on stable debut at 5/4F when showing very little for his previous trainers, and he managed to win with ease at Plumpton. They went to Stratford over 2f extra on much more testing ground carrying a penalty and he was PU, which would probably be enough not to back him again, but I think that doesn't tell the full story. The trainer said the slow ground was the issue, but I think the quite quick follow-up didn't help him, and that was more the issue than the ground. The ground was testing at Stratford, but he has a soft ground action and has the pedigree to suggest that type of ground would be okay, but if you watch the race back he went from travelling okay to pretty much stopping, so I think fitness was the issue. He's been off the track for only 11 days, but he only went just over half of the distance that day so I'd imagine he'd be better today.
Lily Pinchin rode him on stable debut for his win, she claims 3lbs so he was running off 74 that day. Jamie Gambin rides him today and takes off 10 lbs, so today he is running off a 4lb higher mark than his Plumpton win and based on that performance, I think he has a great chance of winning if he repeats that run. He likes to race prominently or making all, which is ideal around sharp tracks like Fakenham, and he handled Plumpton with ease and that's a sharp track so I expect something similar today.
Fakenham 1:30 – Unspeakable 9/1 (1pt win)
I whittled this race down to two, Scene One and Unspeakable and I opted for the latter.
I'd definitely say the former is the more reliable horse, but Unspeakable makes the trip to Fakenham for Christian Williams and is one two runners at the track and based on that I think he is worth a shot on chase debut. Christian Williams does tend to send a fair few runners to this track, which is a surprise given the trek from his South Wales base to the Norfolk track, but his record speaks for itself. He has been operating at a 26% SR at this course since he started training, which has yielded 18 winners from 69 runners, with a further 21 being placed. This horse is making his chase debut, and he could've easily sent him to a more local track to do this, so I can't believe he'll be sending him all the way to Fakenham for a schooling session. It is a 520 mile round trip and a 9.5 hour drive to and from. Out of the two he sends I think this horse has the better chance.
This horse was bought for £50,000 back in April 2022, which isn't a huge purchase but it definitely isn't a small one in the NH world, but he was always intended to be a chaser and now he's running over fences we'll see the best of him. He gets into this race off a low mark of 91 which is nothing for this horse who made a good start to his racing career when booked for 2nd place on his sole PTP start until falling at the last. He jumped hurdles like a fencer, and though he's not certain to like the ground, if it gets too soft, I think he is worth a small bet.
Carlisle 12:35 – Bertie's Ballet 3/1 (1pt Bet365)
I'd be fairly certain that no one will remember the name Bertie's Ballet, but he was tipped up back in March at decent odds when winning a Class 2 bumper at Kelso. He was kept as a bumper horse for over 12 months, and was a decent horse in that sphere and now makes his hurdling debut and I think this a decent opportunity to get a win on his first start.
On all known form, To Chase A Dream is the one to beat as he recorded an RPR of 110 on hurdles debut at this track on heavy ground last time out. To be fair to that horse he went through the race like a decent operator, but I think Bertie's Ballet could surpass him based on his bumper form. Obviously, there will be doubts over his fitnes after not running since Aintree back in April, but he has gone well first time out two years in a row, he won on bumper debut and then finished 2nd at Carlisle on his first start of last season back in February. He seemed like a strong stayer in bumper races and acted on soft ground when winning at Kelso which is a stiff track, and was staying on strongly at Carlisle as well so the stamina-sapping conditions will be suited to him over today's trip if he is fit enough.
Usual rider, Connor O'Farrell isn't on him today as he is recovering from an injury so Henry Brooke is on board, which isn't a downgrade at all.
I'll be keeping an eye on Jeteye in the market as he was tenderly treated by Jonathan England on his hurdles debut, but I imagine he'll be a project for handicaps as the owner is a dab hand at landing a gamble.
Carlisle 1:05 – Aucunrisque 2/1 (2pt)
As you will already know I am a big fan of when trainers send their horses on treks and to courses they don't normally send them to, and Aucunrisque fits that bill perfectly.
Chris Gordon is 3/5 at Carlisle and won this race back in 2018 with Highway One O One, he hasn't had a horse in this race since until now and he sends his sole runner up to Carlisle with his stable jockey Rex Dingle on a 10 hour and 600 mile round trip, so I highly doubt they'll be wasting their bullets.
Dan Skelton sends one up here and John Queally sends one from Waterford, Ireland, so there are some very interesting runners in this but I'd be against both of them. Sail Away, for Dan Skelton is a useful horse, best seen leading from the front as we saw last time out at the Ayr Festival when running riot from the front, but they are dropping him from 3m to 2m and he has to carry a penalty, so it's hard to envisage he's going to be as good at this trip. The Irish raider shouldn't be good enough and if this was a handicap he'd be receiving 14lbs with Aucunrisque, so I can't see how he turns that around. John send Djingle for this race back in 2019 and he was a much better horse and he couldn't manage to win, so I don't know why he's sending this lad over. Nells Son won nicely last time out and showed an improved level to his chase form, but he isn't anywhere near the level that my selection was over hurdles and is rated accordingly, this will be tougher even carrying 4lbs less weight.
Aucunrisque was/is a very useful horse and he managed to win the Betfair Hurdle last year when making all. He has been decent over fences when Chris Gordon has sent him over the larger obstacles, winning once and being runner up twice. He was second to Boothill when last seen over fences, and that horse has franked the form since, he produced an RPR of 152 that day, so a repeat performance is tough to see him beaten. He gets his ideal ground and 2/1 is more than a fair price.
Carlisle 1:40 – Inspiratrice 11/2 (1pt PaddyPower)
I'm sounding like a broken record now as it's all about long distance travellers, but Inspiratrice looks to have found a nice chance of winning her second race.
Nicky Martin is 0/2 at Carlisle, but he didn't send no hopers up, with one finishing 2nd and the other 3rd, so the long way from Somerset to Carlisle might bear fruits this time around, and the odds are more than nice enough to take a chance. This mare sprung a big surprise last year when winning at odds of 200/1 on her third hurdle race, but it wasn't exactly a fluke as she has run some decent races since. She was unlucky in a Listed Mares race for juveniles at Doncaster when she was going nicely through the race but unseated after colliding with a fallen horse. She then finished 3rd behind Parikarma who has since finished 2nd to Vicki Vale who is a decent mare in her own rights.
Her reappearing run, which came over fences, was a nice effort over further than today's trip. She was outclassed but also looked tired when finishing 4th. The horses in that race are very good and better than today's opposition, the winner went on to finish 2nd in a Grade 2 chase on her next run and the 2nd and 3rd are or have been rated in the 130s in the last 12 months.
She is unproven on today's ground, that's an issue, but she handled good to soft well and Gearoid Harney goes to Carlisle for one ride and takes off 7lbs and he is one of the better high claimers in the country at this moment in time, so it looks like a shrewd booking. It might seem strange that Ben Jones is not on board, as he is at the meeting, but Nicky must feel the 7lbs that Harney claims is more advantageous.
Fakenham - 12:55 pm
2/1 @ Bet365
Fakenham - 1:30 pm
9/1 @ Bet365
Carlisle - 12:35 pm
3/1 @ Bet365
Carlisle - 1:05 pm
2/1 @ Bet365
Carlisle - 1:40 pm