The hat-trick beckons for KNIGHT COMMANDER, who remains on a competitive mark despite the fact that he’s effectively 9 lb higher than for his latest success at Exeter. That was Katie Powell’s first ride in a race of any kind, and Knight of Commander won with plenty in hand, so there should be more to come from this thriving sort. It would be no surprise were Jawshan to leave his previous efforts in this sphere well behind now pitched into a handicap.
There should be better to come from ISOLATE, who shaped well on his hurdling debut at Doncaster in February and there were several plausible excuses for his reappearance defeat at Bangor, likely to have benefited from a more positive ride on a sounder surface. He is well worth another chance to confirm the promise of his previous run. Celestial Force has done little wrong since switched to hurdles, but he’s saddled with a double penalty which makes life tougher.
If there’s one who is ahead of the assessor, it’s surely MARILYN MONROE. Admittedly, she hasn’t pulled up any trees in a handful of runs over hurdles, but this point winner showed plenty of ability in bumpers, and improvement may be forthcoming now sent handicapping and stepped up significantly in trip. Anthony Honeyball is in good form at present and Marilyn Monroe is an intriguing runner.
Ready preference is for unexposed five-year-old FRIEND OR FOE, who shaped very well indeed when runner-up back from an 18-month absence at Chepstow and turns out here off the same mark. He was beaten only by one who is going through a career-best spell and Friend Or Foe should prove hard to beat provided this doesn’t come too soon. Andaleep was 2 lb ‘wrong’ at the weights when just behind Get Back Get Back at Wincanton, and he is taken to reverse the placings with that rival.
It’s hard to look beyond BATHIVA, who took a sizeable step forward when scoring over course and distance when last seen in March for David Dennis. That form is working out, too, with the runner-up and fifth both winning next time, and he brings potential to the table for his new yard who are in form. Folly Gate can be expected to step up on his hurdling exploits now tackling the larger obstacles.
The most interesting of these is EARTH LEADER, who wasn’t disgraced when losing his unbeaten record over regulation fences at the hands of Virak at Wincanton in January. He makes his handicap chase debut off a potentially handy mark having switched to Harry Fry and he is sure to be popular. Hat-trick seeker Schnabel will be a live danger if he takes his chance.
HELLO SUNSHINE is fairly appealing on paper, being a sister to bumper winner/fairly useful hurdler Penny Mallow and fair hurdler Kapga de Lily, and she may be worth chancing, particularly if the market vibes are positive. My Keepsake is of automatic interest given that she represents the Hobbs-Johnson combination, while Becky The Boo and Brave Bairn are other newcomers to note in the betting.
Timeform’s tips for Taunton on Wednesday
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