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I’ve thrown two darts at the race. Mumbo Jumbo showed plenty of promise in his bumper at Newbury. Something was definitely amiss on his hurdles debut at Chepstow but he’s been slowly getting better with every run. He’s a chaser of the future and they’re the type you want to go for. He’s got a nice low weight.
Dan Skelton’s Our Jet was only beaten by ¾l by none other than Hillcrest on his hurdles debut at Aintree. He’s won twice at Wetherby since a wind op and beat Rafferty’s Return the last time out, who easily won his next race and is now rated 129. Our Jet looks well handicapped off a mark of 122.
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I’ve thrown two darts at this as well. The first is Lucky One for Dan Skelton. I put up this horse at a big price at Ascot last time out and he finished third behind Good Risk At All. It was a fair effort and the first bit of life shown since moving to the Skelton yard. He looks very well handicapped as he’s dropped from 137 to 125 over the last few months. What’s interesting is Dan Skelton had a lot entered for this and Lucky One is his number one.
The other one I like is Hystery Bere. He’s won on heavy ground before and last time on good ground at Cheltenham he ran an absolute cracker. He travelled well and looked under pressure two out when the pace quickened, it looked like he was going to finish last but he flew up the hill to place third. The form has since been franked as well and he only got hiked 2lbs for that. He’ll get a strong pace to run at here and if he’s in contention turning into the straight he’ll fly up the hill. He’s an each-way chance and we’re paying six places here.
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Highfield Princess is a very fair price. She’s rated 107 and gets the fillies’ allowance. She comes out best at the weights here and was a vast improver last season. She needed the run at Chelmsford last month when beaten at odds-on and the form has been franked. You’d expect her to run close to her best here and her record on all-weather is very solid.
Mullenbeg absolutely bolted up at Cheltenham last time out. It was mightily impressive the way she travelled and quickened. She’d have a chance in the Champion Bumper but it looks like she’ll go here and then on to the Mares’ Grade 2 at Aintree. She’ll take plenty of beating.
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Rebel Gold was bang in contention here in November when he fell three out. He then went to Limerick for the Tim Duggan and was narrowly beaten by Spyglass Hill off a mark of 137. The pace was too strong in the Leopardstown Chase last time off 140 but did well to finish sixth as the other horses up with the pace were out the back. Rebel Gold was dropped 1lb and Shane O’Callaghan takes 7lbs off his back. I think heavy ground really suits and would look to have strong claims.
Mercury Lane made his handicap debut at Naas last time over 2m4f and ran well in fifth on ground that would have been lively enough for him. The form has been franked as the second, third and seventh all won next time. Mercury Lane’s best form last season over hurdles was all on testing ground including a second behind Dunboyne over 2m7f at Thurles and he won by 28l at Limerick over 3m.
Mercury Lane is rated 125 over hurdles though yet to run in a handicap over flights but is 9lbs lower over fences. He finally gets his ground and I hope he is ridden more prominently here.
Frank Hickey’s top Saturday selections
Sandown 13:50 – Mumbo Jumbo (E/W) & Our Jet (E/W)
Sandown 14:25 – Lucky One (E/W) & Hystery Bere (E/W)
Wolverhampton 14:40 – Highfield Princess
Sandown 15:00 – Mullenbeg
Gowran Park 15:45 – Rebel Gold
Navan 16:35 – Mercury Lane (E/W)
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