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Lancashire Telegraph racing column
7:40am Monday 3rd February 2014 in Sport
The Last Bridge has the potential to raise a few eyebrows on his return to chasing at Southwell.
The Sue Johnson-trained seven-year-old struggled in two tries over hurdles this season, but could be an entirely different proposition in the Bet toteplacepot At totepool.com Handicap Chase.
Johnson's inmate looked a pretty decent prospect for fences last March when he won really well at Ffos Las, after which he finished a laudable second on soft ground at Chepstow.
The Last Bridge is far from the quickest horse, but he has plenty of stamina and should manfully handle the testing conditions at the Nottinghamshire circuit.
And with just three starts over fences to his name, he is also one of the least exposed horses in a line-up which would appear to lack strength in depth.
A low weight is there to be exploited.
Brave Vic deserves his moment in the sunshine in the Text Your Bets To totepool On 60021 Novices' Hurdle.
Gary Moore's likeable six-year-old has clearly had his problems - he has only raced three times since May 2012 - but has hitherto shown quite a willing attitude.
That claim was nicely evidenced on heavy ground at Plumpton in January when he battled gamely in a novices' hurdle to take second spot behind the useful-looking Marcilhac, beaten just a length.
There appears no such sharp-shooting rival in this field, so Moore must fancy Brave Vic's chances of making up for lost time.
Rowan Ridge might be of interest in the BetVictor NonRunner Free Bet At Cheltenham 2014 Handicap at Kempton.
The six-year-old, trained by the capable William Knight, was an eyecatcher over a mile and a half at Lingfield in January when he stayed on strongly for fourth place.
Although he was beaten nearly 10 lengths, that in no way tells the full story as he encountered plenty of trouble in running in the hands of an inexperienced jockey.
More forceful tactics from the outset might also have seen him improve upon that finishing position.
In any event, Knight must have been satisfied by Rowan Ridge's performance at the Surrey track as it was his first start since December 2012.
The chestnut son of Compton Place won here over a similar trip a few years ago, when trained by Jim Boyle, and now has the assistance of the ever-reliable Jim Crowley.
Opus can write his name into the annals of Sunbury winners by taking division two of the Book Hospitality At Kempton Park Handicap.
Lucy Wadham's five-year-old remains winless after 15 starts, but there was reassurance that his time is nigh over two miles at Southwell in January when he chased home Pass The Time.
Opus fought valiantly in Nottinghamshire and was a good 15 lengths ahead of the third horse home, Jawaab, who is certainly no mug.
That was his first try over a marathon trip on the Flat and Wadham is understandably keen to have another go.
Even in spite of a 4lb hike, the gelded son of Danehill Dancer has a fine chance off a pretty humble-looking mark.
Connections of Funky Cold Medina will be keener than most to get a victory on the board at Wolverhampton.
Peter Chapple-Hyams's four-year-old is in the February sales, so success in the 32Red Fillies' Handicap would obviously enhance her profile.
Indeed, she very nearly struck at the eighth attempt over course and distance in January but had to make do with the silver medal behind Smalljohn.
Left alone on a mark of 68 and back against her own sex, Funky Cold Medina can usually be relied upon to give it her all now she has returned to seven-furlong races.
Communicator is probably one of the classier types engaged for the 32Red Handicap.
The Andrew Balding-trained six-year-old was third in the Group Three Ormonde Stakes at Chester last May and made a successful first attempt over two miles on the level, when only a head behind Arch Villain at Lingfield in January.
This looks another good race, as one might expect for the prize-money on offer, but Communicator might feasibly have found his niche in staying handicaps on the Flat.
It's interesting that he has not gone back hurdling after running the smart Josses Hill close on debut at Newbury in December.
KEMPTON: 1.30 Pabusar, 2.00 Barbs Princess, 2.30 Dr Finley, 3.00 Opus, 3.30 Confiture, 4.00 Cayuga, 4.30 Rowan Ridge, 5.00 Royal Etiquette.
SOUTHWELL: 12.45 THE LAST BRIDGE (NAP), 1.15 Trozulon, 1.45 Brave Vic, 2.15 Vikekhal, 2.50 Ifyouthinkso, 3.20 Marmalade Boy, 3.50 Cappielow Park.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.40 Kyllachykov, 3.10 Funky Cold Medina, 3.40 Communicator, 4.10 Teenage Dream, 4.40 Ocean Legend, 5.10 Don't Call Me, 5.40 Volcanic Dust.
DOUBLE: The Last Bridge and Rowan Ridge.
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