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After a poor day on Wednesday, it was nice to bounce back with my only selection of the day winning on Thursday. Jack Tudor gave him a beautiful ride, and the horse obliged with a cracking round of jumping.
Just the one selection again from me today, coming in the big race of the day at Exeter, the Devon National Handicap Chase. This race always catches my attention, and I think a lot of that is down to the old boy Dawson City, who has made several appearances in this race, winning two along the way. He makes a return to Exeter in attempt to win it for the third time, if he does, it would be pretty disappointing as he is now a 13yo, and there are surely better handicapped horses than him. A horse who might fly under the radar, but certainly hasn't gone under mine is, WHO'S IN THE BOX. This 8yo trained by Nick Kent is unexposed at the marathon trips, and if his last run in the middle of January is anything to go by for future races in the National's, then he is a real dark horse in this race.
He ran a blinder at Catterick in the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap, where he finished 3rd. The winner that day put in a strong staying performance and looks like a horse who could win again off his revised mark, and the second is just an ultra consistent horse, who will always find it tough in races like this as he is often the class horse in the race, which means he'll carry close to top weight. The selection definitely stayed the trip, but he would've probably wanted the ground slightly more testing, as his best form has come on ground which is soft. Today, he gets testing conditions, and when you combine that with a low weight, and a horse who gets the trip well, you've got yourself a good combination.
This trip and even further looks perfect for him, as his Market Rasen run would suggest. The way he powered through the line over 3m 3f on soft ground suggested this kind of race would be right up his street. He was tapped for speed, but the manner in which he hit the line was eye-catching, even though he was convincingly beaten by 15L. He finished one place behind The Late Legend, who races today, but with an extra few yards, he would've flown past him, so I can envisage the form being reversed between those two.
As for the horses towards the top of the market. Samuel Jackson won this race last year off the same mark, so has to be respected. Wayfinder doesn't look a likely stayer in my opinion, and is much shorter than he should be. Snuff Box looks the one to beat with the penalty he carries being taken away by the 7lb claimer, but the quick turnaround is worrying if you're a backer of him. I think the horse who could run well is Classic Ben. That horse was running a nice race at this track before falling. That was over a shorter trip, so has to prove his stamina, but he looks a player.
12:29 Fontwell - Race: 1
12:46 Uttoxeter - Race: 1
12:55 Punchestown - Race: 1