Good ground forecast for Taunton’s seven-race card and in the 3m novices handicap hurdle I hope to see Noble Joshua (1.11) go one better than when runner up at Exeter over this trip on what was just his second start for the David Pipe yard.
The selection – 3s from 10/3 with Unibet – has been raised a couple of pounds for that effort, but he did win at Clonmel when trained by Gordon Elliot back in September and stable conditional Fergus Gregory takes off a valuable 7lbs.
Hugos Other Horse is a half-brother of Cue Card, but has not yet fulfilled the potential over jumps he showed when landing a Fontwell Bumper last February. He is not one to give up on just yet, even though his reappearance at Plumpton – albeit over the minimum trip – was disappointing.
Kauto The King finished well when third at Hereford over 2m 5f last time and a 3lb rise looks fair as he steps up to 3m for the first time. Normandy Soldier represents a stable I have a lot of respect for, but first time out might not be the time to catch this winning pointer. That said a check of the market is advised.
Favori De Sivola (2.11) attracted support on his chase debut and travelled and jumped well for a long way before folding tamely on the final circuit at Fontwell. The Nick Williams stable have yet to have a winner this season, which tempers confidence, but the each way selection -11s with Boylesports – has had a wind operation since his last start and is fitted with first-time cheek-pieces this afternoon. The five-year-old may not want the ground to dry out too much, but he comes from a good family and has been dropped 5lbs since his chase debut.
De Barley Basket (3.11) made most to score at Market Rasen last time and a 7lbs rise on the face of it should be enough to prevent him following up given he was all out to score by a length-and-a-half. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as the selection lost momentum and many lengths when jumping the crossing on the first circuit – also baulked at it on the second circuit – and the runner up has since franked the form by going one better. Write It Down and Apple Mack look the main dangers but the 13/8 at BetVictor looks about right. He was as big as 9/4 with one firm.
Soft ground forecast at Lingfield and Tribesmans Glory (1.03) put behind his moderate hurdles form when making a winning chase debut at Bangor-on-Dee last month and a 12lbs rise may not prevent him following up in this better grade. Tom George’s 6-y-old – 6/4 with 10bet – won his sole point in his native Ireland and will be difficult to beat if in the same mood as he was in north Wales. He wears a hood for a reason as he can be keen, but it did not prevent him finishing his race off very well last time.
I’m looking forward to the Mares Maiden Hurdle and the first start over obstacles of Windswept Girl (3.03) who was a facile winner of a Taunton Bumper on debut back in February before losing nothing in defeat when second to Elle Est Belle at Aintree last month. The winner has gone on to dead-heat in the listed contest at Cheltenham held in the dark– although she did get beat a nose – and the Anthony Honeyball trained mare – 5/4 with William Hill – is related to a number jump winners.
Tom Lacey continues in good form and Silent Man (3.33) can follow up his recent Ffos Las success for the yard under a 7lbs penalty. The selection – 10/11 with BetVictor – was ridden by his former trainer Sioned Whittle last time and she keeps the ride this afternoon. The 10-year-old is 5lbs “well-in” given the handicapper has seen fit to raise him by 12lbs for that victory and connections look to have found another good opportunity against largely exposed and/or out-of-form rivals.