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Lancashire Telegraph Racing Column
6:00am Sunday 20th April 2014 in Sport
King Of The Picts has performed admirably in top-class hurdle races this season and is fancied to make a winning return to the Flat in the totepool Musselburgh Gold Cup.
Pat Shanahan’s five-year-old shaped well enough during a previous spell on the level a couple of years ago, with a Wexford win backed up by some decent efforts in defeat, but there can be little doubt he is a much improved horse now.
King Of The Picts has won at Bellewstown and a Grade Three at Tipperary since being sent jumping, showing a preference for a sounder surface, which makes his winter efforts in testing ground all the more meritorious.
He was placed behind crack novice hurdlers The Tullow Tank and Vautour at Grade One level at Leopardstown, but arguably his best effort came last time out at Aintree, where he finished third in the Top Novices’ Hurdle, placing behind Josses Hill and Sgt Reckless.
As far as novice hurdling form goes, it does not get much better than that, making his mark of 78 this weekend - compared to his hurdles rating of 141 - hugely attractive.
The Irish raider heads to Scotland fighting fit, which might not be the case for some of his rivals, and he looks sure to make his presence felt with ground conditions to suit.
It could be a memorable afternoon for the Shanahan team, as King Of The Picts’ stable companion Tiffany Bay could be the answer to the Download The totepool Live Info App Handicap.
Shanahan’s filly looked quite smart when fourth on her racecourse debut at Chester last September and ran even more promising race when third behind Go For Goal at Cork, a horse who was last seen winning the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
Tiffany Bay rounded off her two-year-old season with another placed effort on the all-weather at Dundalk and an initial rating of 75 for her handicap debut looks workable, assuming she is ready enough to do herself justice on her first start in four months.
Proud Scotsman Mark Johnston rarely leaves Edinburgh without a winner and his Alex My Boy looks banker material in the Tote tentofollow.com Enter Now EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes.
Stoutly bred as a son of Dalakhani out of the hugely talented dual Oaks heroine Alexandrova, Alex My Boy was never going to be a sharp two-year-old and he never even made the racecourse during his juvenile year.
It was mid-October of his three-year-old campaign that he eventually made his racecourse introduction and he offered plenty of hope for the future, chasing home long odds-on favourite Gothic over a mile at Leicester.
The winner had an experience edge and is now being talked up as a potential Derby contender, so there was no shame in Alex My Boy’s effort and the step up to a mile and a half on his return to action should suit him down to the ground.
Ballyvoneen is something of a Plumpton specialist, making him a sound betting proposition in the Best Odds Guaranteed At totepool.com Handicap Chase.
From 10 appearances at the East Sussex track Neil King’s stable stalwart has registered four victories and has also been placed twice.
He won off a mark of 95 here almost a year ago, but was largely disappointing for the rest of 2013 and in the early part of this year, perhaps struggling to find his feet in the deep winter ground.
A return to Plumpton on a sound surface at the end of March was expected to help him bounce back and he did so in fine style, making the most of his falling mark.
Interestingly, that victory on March 31 was his first success outside of April and May, a statistic which suggests he saves his best efforts for the spring.
Lining up here off a rating of 87, he is well treated on his best form and looks sure to be involved at the business end of proceedings.
Fine Moment absolutely bolted up at Towcester earlier in the month following string of placed efforts and should prove exceptionally hard to beat on her return to the track for the Bet totetrifecta Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.
The Powers Gold Cup takes centre stage on an excellent card at Fairyhouse.
The Willie Mullins-trained Ballycasey found the punishing three miles of the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival beyond him last month, but coming back half a mile, he can get back on the winning trail and clinch his second Grade One prize of the season.
CORK: 2.30 The Plan Man, 3.00 Morga, 3.30 Miradane, 4.00 Sea Light, 4.30 Noble Prince, 5.00 Abbey Lane, 5.30 King Leon.
FAIRYHOUSE: 2.40 Shalamzar, 3.10 Zigger Zagger, 3.40 Daneking, 4.10 Our Katie, 4.40 Ballycasey, 5.10 Ned Buntline, 5.40 Sir Scorpion.
MUSSELBURGH: 2.05 Echo Of Lightning, 2.30 Poetree In Motion, 3.05 Lord Franklin, 3.35 KING OF THE PICTS (NAP), 4.05 Alex My Boy, 4.35 Tiffany Bay, 5.05 Commandable.
PLUMPTON: 2.25 Gun Shy, 2.55 Ballyvoneen, 3.25 The Informant, 3.55 Saint Jerome, 4.25 Unex Modigliani, 4.55 Get Ready To Go, 5.25 Little Roxy.
TOWCESTER: 2.15 Roberto Pegasus, 2.45 Bally Lagan, 3.15 Fine Moment, 3.45 Danners, 4.15 Handsome Buddy, 4.45 Ned Stark, 5.15 Warrantor, 5.45 Wilberdragon.
DOUBLE: King Of The Picts and Alex My Boy
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