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With Fontwell being abandoned I went with an EW shout at Newmarket, he was backed in a little into 5/1 but was off the bridle very early into the race. I thought his added stamina would've been to his strength but he was only staying on in the last furlong or so past beaten horses and was simply outclassed.
Carlisle 1:40 – Vincenzo 4/1 (1pt)
With the Sam Thomas yard flying I think that Vicenzo can make a winning hurdling debut.
Carlisle isn't a track Sam uses all too often for his horses with just four runners coming to Carlisle since he took up his training licence a few years ago, which has yielded 2 wins. This horse has a decent campaign in bumpers last year, but he wasn't heavily raced last season as it clearly wasn't the be-all and end-all of his career to get as many runs into him as possible as his pedigree would suggest he would be better over fences in time. He has a very nice pedigree and is related to some good French jumpers including Nanosecond who was placed in a Group 1 over 2m 7f, so that also gives the impression that today's step up to 2m 4f will benefit him.
There are only two horses in this race who have hurdle ratings and only one should be mentioned and that is Keep Wondering. The 9yo is officially rated 118 as a hurdler but is 0/4 in this code, and he has been kept to chasing for the most part of his career. I see this as a pipe opener for a chase race in the future and I don't think hurdling is his game, especially against some potentially nice unexposed types in this race like Vincenzo.
Sam Thomas is 3/3 in the last fortnight and all have won with plenty to spare, he is clearly getting his horses ready first time out and I don't think they'll be wasting their diesel money with the trip up to Carlisle.
Carlisle 4:30 – Yellowstone Park 12/1 (0.5pt EW B365 3pl)
If there was a horse in this race that was made to be a chaser it would be Yellowstone Park.
This horse is a half-brother to two smart chasers who improved plenty when sent over the largest obstacles, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Yellowstone Park followed in their footsteps off a relatively low handicap mark of 113. He was a decent enough hurdler, winning one and finishing and runner-up another time from his seven runs as a novice and it's interesting that Alex Hales and connections come to Carlisle for his chase debut as it's a track that has been very good to the Hales yard, with three winners from six runners at this track in the last five years, with him having 2/4 winners over fences, netting a decent profit.
He is related to Islandofhomeandreams and Mighty Thunder who were very good staying chasers, both reaching RPRs of 150 at their peak and both winning on their chase debuts.
Ludlow 3:30 – Hardy Fella 5/1 (1pt)
I've always liked Hardy Fella since watching him finish 2nd on his hurdles debut, and I've always thought there was plenty of ability with this horse and now he makes his move to fences this is where he could turn into something decent.
He was a frustrating horse to back and follow last year as he finished 2nd on three occasions, but he finally got his day in the sun at this track on his final run of the season when making all and winning with plenty in hand. Granted, the race was much weaker than today's opposition but it would've been a nice confidence booster for him and though he lacks experience over fences to most of these, as he hasn't run in PTPs or had a chase start to date I think with the form of the Emma Lavelle yard going as well as it currently is, you can take a chance.
I'm not totally sold on the others in this race. Outlaw Peter made hard work in his match race at Newton Abbott last time out, his jumping wasn't great and though he is the ‘class' horse in this race from his hurdles form, I think he'll have his work cut out for him. Neon Moon was a frustrating horse over fences last year, often coming with a winning run but flattening out in the final furlongs, his experience will be key in this but he is definitely open to being beaten by some unexposed horses.
Carlisle - 1:40 pm
4/1 @ Bet365
Carlisle - 4:30 pm
12/1 @ Bet365
Ludlow - 3:30 pm