IOLANI has been in largely good nick on the Flat this year, including when landing the odds in a Thirsk handicap in July, and he ran as well as he ever has over jumps when returned to hurdling at Kelso earlier this month, finishing a couple of lengths behind one who was bringing up a four-timer. He is stepping back up in trip here with the tongue strap reapplied, and another bold showing should be on the cards.
A point and bumper winner, GARRY CLERMONT progressed nicely as a hurdler last term, winning twice before finishing fifth in a Supreme trial at Kempton, his finishing effort somewhat lacking on that occasion. The way he travels and is built suggests he’ll do even better over fences, and with Jonjo O’Neill’s yard enjoying a good start to the season he makes plenty of appeal on his chase debut.
This race looks to be between BLAKENEY POINT and Stoner’s Choice, and while the latter does have the better form on offer, his jumping is not quite there yet so it is Donald McCain’s charge who gets the vote.
Blakeney Point, who had made an uninspiring start to life over hurdles at Doncaster at the end of last season, proved a different proposition at Bangor in July, showing much improved form to open his account over obstacles, a wind operation perhaps finding the key to him. He was well held on the Flat since then but he remains open to progress in this sphere and looks worth siding with.
MACKENBERG, who failed to complete in both starts in Irish points, made a winning start under Rules at this venue in December 2019, showing far too much speed for his rivals in a steadily-run race. He didn’t improve on that second time out, but Donald McCain’s horses don’t tend to go on in bumpers after promising starts, so that run can be overlooked, and he looks just the type to do much better over hurdles.
CAGE OF FEAR shaped much better than the bare result suggests when runner-up on his chase debut in August, still in front when making a bad mistake at the last, but he made amends for that in no uncertain terms at Perth last month, producing a much more assured round of jumping as he won easing down. He remains open to improvement over fences and will win more races in this sphere.
Having proved himself better than ever on the Flat this season, THE NAVIGATOR, whose previous brush with hurdling ended in disappointment, proved a different proposition this time around, scoring with plenty in hand on his handicap hurdle debut at Sedgefield last month.
That win had already received a boost when The Navigator duly did his bit for the form, following up over the same course and distance earlier this month, defying a penalty to again win in good style. He should prove difficult to beat under a penalty.
A fair winning hurdler, HONOURARY GIFT ran to a similar level when second on his chase debut at Sedgefield last month, jumping adequately but just no match for the thriving winner, and he shaped as if still in good heart at the same venue last time, going well in second when unseating his rider at the eighth.
His departure came too far out to suggest the outcome of the race, but all in all he has made a promising start to life over fences, and with Brian Hughes taking over in the saddle, he gets the vote to open his account in this code.
Fergal O’Brien’s yard are in good form at present, and their record with bumper debutants is an impressive one (£28.82 profit to a £1 level stake), so it is fair to say that PEKING ROSE makes plenty of appeal ahead of his first outing. His pedigree is a good one too, a Passing Glance gelding who is a half-brother to Twelver Roses and Cinderella Rose, making him a newcomer to note.
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Timeform’s Carlisle bet summary – Thursday, October 15
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