We begin our day with an intriguing class five handicap here at Wolves. Early favourite Archipeligo has a 6lbs penalty to carry for beating Oratorio’s Joy here last week but found a little trouble in running and won better than the neck margin suggested. He has now won two from two since switching to the tapeta surface and will be hoping to bring up his hat-trick today. The only concern for me is that this is the first time he has raced over fourteen furlongs and with the extra weight he could find one too good here.
Urban Castle finished a close second to Oratorio’s Joy on Boxing Day and beat a subsequent winner when racing here at the beginning of December so would appear to have obvious claims. She keeps Adam Kirby in the saddle but is another who has never raced over this far before.
Nolecce is the only course and distance winner in the field and arrives here in good form having finished third here over todays trip in December then following this up with a close second over twelve furlongs earlier this month. With a strike rate of 37% for finishes in the first three he could be the main danger to the favourite and should outrun his 14/1 price (at the time of writing).
We head to Exeter for our second selection, hoping that the course passes its morning inspection. Queen Of The Stage is the early market leader and bids for a hat-trick after wins at Ludlow over sixteen furlongs and here over nineteen furlongs in November and December respectively. Talented young jockey Lizzie Kelly keeps her place in the saddle and has a 50% win rate here at Exeter. She is in great form at the moment with five wins from ten rides since Boxing Day and should be able to add to this with another win here.
Pitter Patter won two from three on the flat but her best effort over hurdles came when finishing third to our selection at Ludlow and she has been well beaten since so the most likely dangers look to be Kozmina Bay and Miss Sassypants who both arrive on the back of recent wins.
Miss SassyPants is one of only two horse in the field who is proven over seventeen furlongs but that was in an NH flat race and prior to her recent win she had shown little over hurdles in four other attempts.
Kozmina Bay has a 35% strike rate for finishes in the first three places but raced over todays’ trip on six occasions without success.
Queen Of The Stage (WIN)
We return to the Wolves for our final selection of the day, which comes in a competitive looking class five handicap. Dana’s Present was a PFTP selection in December when being backed in from 7/1 to evens and winning comfortably at Kempton. He couldn’t follow that up over a shorter distance but he resumed winning ways here earlier this month and now has a 66% win rate over course and distance. Although raised 5lbs he has won off higher marks in the past so should be able to remain competitive today.
Sheriff Of Nawton hadn’t shown much in four previous all-weather runs but put all that behind him with a hard fought win here just before Christmas and has to rate as a threat if turning up in the same mood.
Of the remainder, The Gay Cavalier and Coillte Cailin both arrive on the back of recent victories so cannot be discounted but the biggest danger looks to come from Breakheart who has placed in his last two races but both winners from these races have gone on to win again so the form holds up well.
Dana’s Present (E/W if 5/1+)