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No excuses from yesterday's selection, Calidad, who jumped as well as you could have possibly asked for on chase debut. He simply didn't have the class to compete against the others in the race, and desperately needs to come down the weights if he is to win a race, as he went out like a light.
If BLACK POPPY isn't better than a mark of 108, then I'd be very surprised. The form in which he has shown in novice races suggests he is a horse who will at least reach 120+, so I think this is the time right to catch him, on handicap debut.
He has been beaten a few times at short odds, which includes a fall at the 2nd last at Bangor when holding a narrow lead to a horse which has a good reputation from the Olly Murphy yard (Go Dante), and that run produced an RPR of 117. I'm not sure he would've won that day, but he would've made the winner work hard to get the victory. He then ran a decent race at Worcester, and looked like a big player but his efforts folded tamely, and eventually finished 3rd, but the form of that race has worked out well, with the runner-up finishing second again and then won by a wide margin on his latest start, and is now rated 127. A horse back in 5th at Worcester has since ran some nice races as well, and he was easily beaten that day. Black Poppy's last two runs have been decent, but hasn't quite set the world alight, but he's ran with enough credit to suggest his opening handicap mark of 108 is workable, especially when you consider his RPRs of his four runs over hurdles have been rated 117, 114, 110 & 117.
This ground seems ideal for him from what we've seen from his short career to date. He won a bumper on good ground, which has proven to be good form, as the second, Party Business has ran well in Class 1 hurdle races in recent months.
This race will have a few ahead of their marks, so Black Poppy will have to be as well handicapped as I think he is, if he is to win this.
I was mightily gutted when POWERSTOWN PARK won back in December over this C&D at odds of 18/1, as I tipped him up the time before where he ran a stinker. I'm normally one for rebacking a horse, and giving a second opportunity, but I didn't think the step up to 3m+ was going to suit, but it definitely did, and here I am backing him again.
He saw a hefty rise by the handicapper for his win at Hereford for his 7.5L success, and that saw his rating go from 115 to 125. He seemed found out the next time at Market Rasen, but connections didn't seem to think that was due to the rise in the weights. Sam Thomas, Powerstown Park's trainer, said that the horse did too much in the early stages of the race, and when you combine that with soft ground, he was never going to get home. Back on a sounder surface, and in what appears to be an easier race, this could be the perfect opportunity for him to land a second win over fences. He can be quite keen in his races, so the fact that this is a five runner race, it means that he can go from the front if Lorcan Williams thinks he is expending too much energy from being restrained. He clearly likes this track, and likes the ground, and the others in the race have a few question marks to be answered between them, so I think he is worth chancing.
12:00 Southwell - Race: 1
12:15 Bath - Race: 1
12:20 Punchestown - Race: 1