OUR afternoon fix of jump racing comes from Taunton and Towcester, the latter being a track where Kim Bailey in particular excels at. The veteran trainer has an impressive 19 per cent strike-rate at the track this season and over half of all his horses finishing in the frame.
The stable have had something of a quiet patch with Such A Legend (2.00) taken to put the trainer back in the winners enclosure.
The 6-y-o sprang something of a surprise when turning over subsequent G2 runner-up Beat That at Kempton last year.
He looked desperately in need of the run when returning at Ascot and built on that further when second a fortnight ago at Market Rasen.
He was a good second to an odds-on favourite of Charlie Longsdon and that should put him spot on for the novices’ hurdle that opens the card.
At a big price it could be worth taking a chance on Saudi Pearl (2.30) who remains unexposed from a mark of 89 and has Ryan Hatch take a further 7lb off.
The Twiston-Davies stable are creeping into a bit of form and it would be no surprise to see the 6-y-o but his previous form to one side on just his second start in handicap company.
Alan King’s Bull and Bush (3.00) is a confident selection in the three mile handicap hurdle having won well last time out, the mare getting the better of Nicky Henderson’s Free Thinking in a tactical affair at Doncaster.
As her pedigree suggested, she has thrived on better ground and by Presenting will surely come into her own on good, spring ground.
She should be much better than her rating of 120 suggests and should take all the beating with the King stable in fine fettle.
At Taunton, Harry Fry’s Blue Buttons (2.50) will be very difficult to beat in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle taking a drop in grade after running in warm listed contests including a narrow defeat at the track here in December. She was unlucky when chasing home Fergal O’Brien’s Down Ace with the trip on the sharp side for her and providing she stands up, will be a warm winner over the preferred two and a half miles.
Paul Nicholls has a 32 per cent strike-rate at the track this season and his Very Noble (3.20) can improve that further and land the two mile novices hurdle on the card.
The 5-y-o has been pitched at the deep end in novice company at Chepstow, Taunton and Wincanton respectively but got his season back on track when winning a jumpers bumper at Lingfield last month.
That form was franked with the second winning on his next start and Very Noble is taken to continue his progression and upset the likely favourite Massena, which who looks the danger.
Tom George and Paddy Brennan have enjoyed plenty of success already this season and with King’s Warrior (4.20) now eligible for handicaps he should be able to should be set to thrive.
He won the John Smith’s Cup on the flat with Peter Chapple-Hyam two seasons back and has been given a ‘gentle’ introduction to life over hurdles.
The 7-y-o is much better than his opening mark of 107 suggests and another that is expected to thrive on the forecasted better ground.