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Low sun caused more problems with many fences being removed at Exeter. I thought Broomfield Present would enjoy the step up in trip, but I don't think the removal of the fences helped him as the pace was stronger than normal as they didn't have to jump fences for the best part of 2m+ in the race, making it into a flat race.
Taunton 2:05 – Morfee 13/2 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
This looks like a competitive race on paper, but I don't think it's as competitive as it looks as if you look through the form of the horses it's surely just a handful of horses who should be capable of winning this and I landed on Morfee.
Seamus Mullins' horse has been running well, before his 561 day break and after it, apart from his seasonal reappearance which was evidently always going to be needed after such a huge layoff, but his run last time out at Wincanton was a nice return to form. He had previously finished 2nd, fell, won twice and then after his comeback he managed to finish 2nd as I just eluded to at Wincanton and that was over a trip which is probably on the short side for him at this moment in his career so a return to a longer trip will play to his strengths.
I think the form of the race from last time out will work out okay as the winner won that race on his second chase start, doing it nicely, and looking like a horse who could offer a fair bit more off a higher mark. The third horse ran an encouraging race and the fourth is a good yardstick for the grade.
Though this horse's wins have come on quicker ground, he showed he handled the softer ground last time out which will be crucial to today's run as though it won't be extremely testing, it will probably be tacky ground so stamina is going to be needed, which this horse has shown by winning over 3m 1f and an extended 3m 2f, so he is definitely an EW player in this, running from bottom weight.
Taunton 3:50 – Oscarman 25/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
Oscarman will more than likely need the run on seasonal reappearance for the Suzy Smith yard, but with the form the yard are in with two wins in the last fortnight from four runners I thought it was worth the risk to have an EW bet on him, especially at the prices.
His handicap mark of 95 which is essentially 88 with the 7lb claim of Elizabeth Gale puts him on a ridiculously low handicap mark when you consider his opening handicap rating was 117. I think the tacky ground will suit and the track is a plus in my eyes as well as he likes to jump out to the right, so this right-handed track is a bonus.
This is a trappy race for the grade with some very in-form horses showing up, but if Oscarman was to show a glimpse of what he showed in his novice hurdling days, he is far too big of a price to leave unbacked, especially the way the yard is churning out winners.
Newcastle 12:30 – Canelo 9/1 (1pt, PaddyPower)
It's a tad annoying that some early money has come in for Canelo, I doubt that's serious money from the connections, but punters latching onto the same angle that I've gone for.
Ben Haslam won this race back in 2020 and 2021 with Scoop The Pot, who was also a JP McManus horse, like Canelo. This horse was once a very smart handicapper when trained by Alan King, rated in the 140s just a couple of seasons ago, and was winning races in the high 120s, 130s and even off 142 in a Grade 3 on Boxing Day back in 2020. Obviously, his form has taken a big hit and it just seems like the usual move for a JP McManus horse who has dropped violently through the handicap ratings that they've ended up at Ben Haslam's retirement home for JP horses. However, we've seen it on many occasions with very similar horses that these horses do bounce back to form and it's no great surprise as they are often extremely well handicapped and based on the fact that Ben and JP have won this race twice in recent years, it seems a tad coincidental that this lad has found his way into this race off a mark of 105.
This is the horse's first run in 457 days, so chances are that he'll need the run, but he's on a very tempting mark and has the ground to suit.
I'll just have 1pt straight win on him, as I think he'll either be pulled up or go on to win, I doubt there will be an in between.
Warwick 1:20 – Hermes Boy 9/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
Today seems like the day for outsiders or EW priced horses, sometimes that's how it goes and I did think Hermes Boy was an interesting runner in this race.
He was once a decent horse, has only managed to win once in his career to date but has run well in defeat including just a year ago when finishing just 4.5L behind Love Envoi and then 2nd to Can You Call, those runs came off a mark of 119. Since then, his form has tailed off massively, but his handicap mark of 108 now makes him a very tempting proposition.
Jane Williams has a 30% SR at Warwick and it's interesting they've opted for the first-time blinkers on him today. He handles soft ground and if the blinkers were to revive him and give him a spark, he's well handicapped on old pieces of form and considering he is only a 6yo, I doubt his ability has gone already.
Taunton - 2:05 pm
13/2 @ Bet365
Taunton - 3:50 pm
25/1 @ Bet365
Newcastle - 12:30 pm
9/1 @ PaddyPower
Warwick - 1:20 pm