1.15pm Taunton Tips & Betting Preview 20/12/2016

14 Maiden Hurdlers go to post for the 2nd race of the day at Taunton, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: Although he’s finished 2nd on five occasions, CASPER KING has bumped into more than one useful horse in those races and this is probably his best chance yet to win a race so has to be respected. The main danger may well be Volpone Jelois for the inform Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies combo who showed promise on his hurdling debut last time out.

1 ARGUS – Won three times on the flat back in 2015 for Ralph Beckett but hasn’t been in the same for this year and has been pretty poor. Makes hurdles debut in a reasonably hot race and probably best watched today.

2 CASPER KING – Finished 2nd 5 times in a row in bumpers and hurdles races before a very flat effort at Cheltenham back in October, weakening very tamely at quite an early stage (2m, Good). That effort was surely too bad to be true and his form before that stage sets the standard as he’s bumped into some useful types on more than one occasion, and this most likely is his best chance yet to take victory so has to be respected.

3 CHELTENAM DE VAIGE – Showed some promise on bumper debut but hasn’t since and was always behind at Bangor on hurdles debut. Can’t be recommended.

4 GIOS LAST – Won four times on the flat but jumped slowy on hurdles and was always behind on his hurdling bow at Leicester (1m7f, Good), on stable debut also. That was after a year and a half layoff and he should come on from it but doesn’t really appeal today.

5 GOOSEN MAVERICK – Placed in a Point to Point which is the only promise he’s really shown, finishing a long 4th at Exeter on hurdles debut (tailed off) and then was always behind at Chepstow (2m3f, Good). Doesn’t make any appeal now down in trip again.

6 ICEY STEEL – Pulled up in three Point to Points in the spring and makes rules debut today for Jimmy Frost, hard to fancy today and best watched.

7 POKARI – Steadily improved in bumpers, winning readily on the third attempt at Newton Abbot back in September (2m, Good). Could improve for the switch to timber and may have each way claims if nibbled at in the market.

8 SIGURD – Never threatened on the flat, struggling to beat a rival in 7 starts, and was a tailed off at Uttoxeter on hurdling debut, struggling from an early stage. Doesn’t appeal.

9 SOULSAVER – Wasn’t disgraced when 6th in a listed bumper at Cheltenham back in January but hasn’t gone on from it, struggling to beat a rival at big odds in the the 3 runs. Doesn’t make any appeal.

10 ZIPPLE BACK – Showed promise in bumpers and has posted two solid efforts thus far over hurdles, finishing 2nd behind a useful Hobbs’ horse at Wetherby in October (2m, Good) and then 3rd in a hot Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton last month (2m, Soft). Needs to improve for win purposes but is one of the likelier players and has place claims.

11 SPADER – Won on the flat in Ireland but pulled very hard on hurdles debut at Warwick earlier this month, weakening out of contention 3 out (2m, Good to Soft). If settling better he is hard to discount but really does need to show improvement to feature in this.

12 UNBLINKING – Poor on the flat in two runs at Chantilly and Nottingham but stayed on well at Warwick latest when never managing to threaten the leaders (2m, Good to Soft). Seemed to be getting the hang of it towards the end and should have place claims if building upon that run.

13 VINCENT’S FOREVER – Showed promise on the flat for John Gosden including a win at Kempton in August but was bitterly disappointing on hurdles debut at Market Rasen finishing tailed off (2m Good to Soft).

14 VOLPONE JELOIS – Finished 2nd on hurdling debut at Fontwell (2m1f, Good), staying on but never managing to get to the ready winner but 6 lengths clear of the 3rd place. Should have more to give over hurdles with that effort a good learning curve for him, and with the team of Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies going well at present, he has to be considered a huge danger today.

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