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The Bet Victor racing column
9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014 in Sport
Huntingdon stage one of their best meetings of the whole year with the feature event the Grade 2 Sidney Banks’ Memorial Novices’ Hurdle.
Mosspark is unbeaten in both starts so far this season but I am more than a little concerned about the wellbeing of the Emma Lavelle yard and I am going to side with Carraig Mor (3.40) despite the fact that he was beaten at 1/8 at Ascot when last seen back in November.
He is best judged on his previous impressive success at Uttoxeter on his hurdles debut over today’s trip and, with the yard beginning to find their feet, he can take advantage of the 3lbs he receives from Charlie Longsdon’s Spirit Of Shankly.
The drying ground will suit Lord Of The Dunes in the 2m 4f Handicap Chase but, despite slight concerns over the form of the Tom George stable, the top-weight Gentle Bob (2.40) can build on his Warwick forth when he was coming back from a 600-day absence.
He can race from the same mark as when wining at Wincanton back in 2012 and has the size and scope to carry top-weight.
Qasser (2.10) barely gets 2 miles over jumps but has improved since the application of a hood and is taken to land the opening handicap hurdle with leading conditional jockey James Banks taking off a valuable 5lbs.
Bellenos looks the one to beat in the Novice chase over the minimum trip but the Dan Skelton yard have been very quiet of late and he may struggle to keep tabs on Shotavodka (3.10) who made a promising chase debut when runner up to Holywell at Catterick last month.
McCoy takes over this afternoon and the Champion jockey has finished first and second on the horse on the two previous occasions he has got the leg up on the David Pipe-trained runner.
Cabaret Girl won a Bumper here last season and a market move would be significant but, despite the trip being past her optimum, I hope Princess Caetani (4.10) can finally get her head in front for David Dennis.
Richard Johnson keeps the mount and he is likely to try and hold on to the mare as long as possible.
Tom Scudamore doesn’t ride Shotavodka as he will be at Sedgefield to ride Vieux Lion Rouge (2.30) and this inmate has only met with defeat once in five starts and that was in last year’s Festival Bumper. He might be one for a handicap at the Festival rather than one of the Novice events.
Arc Warrior is on a hat-trick in the stayers’ handicap chase but, despite carrying 11st 12lbs, Rapidolyte De Ladalka (4.00) must be the selection having been dropped 7lbs in two poor runs so far this season.
He represents the small Borders stable of Simon Shirley-Beavan but has the scope and class to give the weight away although I was convinced Saturday’s Eider Chase was the race for him all season.
He would have carried 10st 1lb in that valuable contest but, for whatever reason, connections must feel this is a better opportunity to get his career back on track.
Scimon Templar (3.20), palpably, failed to stay over 2m 4f at Ayr earlier in the month and no surprise to see connections drop him back to the minimum trip. He is one to consider back here or at Perth or on better ground in the spring.
The meeting must survive a 7.30 inspection with further rain expected but Pauline Robson’s charge must have a leading chance of giving her a very welcome winner.
Up and Go (3.50) should have a simple task in the Novice Chase especially with the Donald McCain yard having a winner, in the same colours, at Southwell earlier in the week.
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