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The intermediate chase at 13:30 is probably as good a contest as they have showcased at the Exeter track in their history and novice Bravesmansgame could well be the call to put it up to his more experienced three rivals to the sword, but this staying handicap hurdle looked a more attractive proposition from a punting point of view.
In the staying hurdles here, they tend to push on from some way out so in essence this is a sharp track, such races normally turn into a comprehensive test of stamina. Old boy Tobefair has been dropped a whopping 7lbs for his opening salvo here when 58 lengths last of four, but the ground would have been way too fast in a race which developed into a sprint from the end of the back straight. He shouldn’t be written off from this rating.
Staying chaser Cyclop will also enjoy conditions and is rated a fair way lower over hurdles and could be dangerous. The chasing team is added to by Hogan’s Heights, JUST A STING and Ramses De Teillee, and the second of those has to be the call.
Unplaced on his last five outings over fences last season, he is rated fully 15lbs lower over the smaller obstacles and unlike several of his chasing rivals he has a bit more speed than them and a turn of foot. I would expect Jonathan Burke to bide his time on him before putting him into the race on the far side form the final time. He is certainly capable of landing a race of this nature and is preferred to the likely favourite Blackjack Kentucky.
The Munster National takes centre stage at the Patrickswell track and looks as competitive as ever, but my best value play on the card comes just over an hour earlier in this staying handicap hurdle over three miles.
Teescomponentsyess remains open to significant improvement at the age of five with just four runs over timber under his belt and his last run at Galway can be safely consigned to the dust bin as he was hampered at a crucial stage just when the race was developing.
The likes of Dedanann and light weight Ben Thomson are also respected, but one entry I have been waiting to return to this staying trip is the six-year-old LOUDEST WHISPER, who quite simply looks an out and out stayer.
Her last run over three miles came at Bellewstown on July 3rd when he simply outstayed his 14 rivals off a mark of 94. Since then, she has run over as short as two miles and up to two-and three-quarter miles and each time has never been nearer than at the finish. Back down to a rating of 98, the daughter of Maxios has a real chance here of recording a fourth career victory especially as there seems to be plenty of natural pace up top.
This looks a competitive sprint handicap for the Class three level and very few of these are hiding their talent under a bushel with even the two three-year-olds at the foot of the weights, Silent Flame and Secret Handsheikh, looking relatively exposed.
But there was a big pointer to the chance of SPANISH STAR last time out when this smart six-year-old ran a cracker in horrendous conditions at Salisbury. You could make an argument that Daniel Muscutt left his challenge too late on the selection however, he is a tricky ride and has to be kept on the bridle for as long as possible, coming between horses to keep him interested is definitely the way to ride him.
His record this season has been nothing short of sensational from a consistency point of view having run 10 times and been in the first four on no less than nine occasions. His sole win came over 7 furlongs at Newbury in August off a mark of 77. His run last time out was off 82 and he gets the chance to run off that rating again here.
In theory victory here would be a career best, but he comes here in great form, has a lovely draw in box number 10 and will adore the conditions. It could just be a matter of the gaps opening up at the right time for the ultra-confident David Probert.
As punters and pundits alike, it is sometimes hard to forgive one bad run let alone three, but the latter is what I am going to allow for CALCUTTA CUP in this competitive mile handicap that ends the card at the Sussex track.
Andrew Balding has had the season of his life and I know at the beginning of the campaign that he expected this son of Territories to be plying his trade at a much higher level than this class four, 0-85 event and possibly over a wee bit further.
However, the make-up of the races he has run in simply haven’t worked out for this three-year-old with his last three starts having been run at moderate gallops when it seemed on paper that there would be some decent pace on.
You can excuse him pulling too hard on his seasonal debut back in July here on account of him being fresh. Then being ridden out of the back in a small field off a slow pace gave him a near impossible task at Salisbury, while last time out at Epsom (off a mark of 80) with a first time hood on, he totally missed the kick and was always on the back foot.
The hood is retained here, and for the first time this season the youngster should finally get a decent pace to tow him into the contest from a potentially good draw in box number 13. If Probert can get him settled and the gaps open up late on, then we could have a nicely handicapped horse on our hands here having been dropped to a rating of 77. Of his rivals, Tom Collins is also becoming dangerously well treated (3lbs above his last winning mark), while the lightly raced Awtaad colt, Diamil, is sure to be involved if taking another step forward for Ralph Beckett.
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