A nine runner handicap is the penultimate race on Taunton’s card on Friday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Yur Next and Fraser Canyon arguably bring the best for into the race but this could be fifteenth time lucky for THE LION MAN. Although pulled up on his latest start at Towcester, he finished a good fourth over the same C&D the time before in conditions similar to today’s. He’s 3lb lower today with a capable 5lb claimer shedding further weight from his back and if given a soft lead and settling a bit better out front he’d be dangerous to discount and has to be respected.
1 YUR NEXT – Stayed on well to land the spoils over C&D in December and followed that up ten days later with a close second over C&D again, sticking on in a valiant performance despite the 7lb penalty. 5lb higher again today which makes things tougher but she’s likely to run well in conditions that will suit and over a trip she stays very well. Main contender and has to be respected, though she does need to show further improvement again off this mark.
2 FRASER CANYON – Finished second behind a progressive horse at Fontwell back in November (2m 3f, Soft) which was a good performance as he was 25 lengths clear of the third place. He’s been well held the last twice however at Hereford (2m 3f, Soft) and Market Rasen (2m 4f, Good to Soft) though those races looked slightly tougher than this. Down 2lb from his latest run which is a help and the Tim Vaughan yard have hit form again with a record of 4-18 in the past two weeks so is likely to run a good race today with conditions to suit and he’s respected.
3 FAR FROM DEFEAT – Has been pulled up on six of his last eight runs over hurdles, including the last twice so his record really doesn’t exude any confidence. His start five starts ago at Chepstow (2m 3f, Soft) was a good effort and would bring him into the equation but its impossible to know if he’s in the right mood today and backing him is a very risky proposition. Likely best avoided on balance despite the Michael Scudamore yard having two winners from their last six runs.
4 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE – Has shown some decent form at points in her career including a good third three starts ago at Uttoxeter (2m 3f, Good), and that form reads well in the context of this race. Hasn’t been so good the last twice and has been soundly beaten on two starts since, but she now steps up to three miles which is certainly interesting, with no real clues as to whether she’ll stay. Richard Phillips remains optimistic, posting on his Facebook page about his six year old’s chances: “The ground should suit her and it should be interesting to see how she runs if she gets the trip.” Likely to run a better race now at his sort of trip and may well sneak a place today.
5 HOW’S VIENNA – Only raced four times over hurdles but was soundly beaten at Ayr on his latest start despite finishing third (2m 4f, Heavy), 28 lengths behind the eventual winner in dire conditions. Possible he’ll improve for the further trip though there is no evidence to suggest he will stay, with good ground another question mark. Best avoided on balance today though could run into the places if this turns into a stamina test.
6 AVITHOS – Finished a good third at Chepstow four starts ago (2m 3f, Good to Soft) which was a promising effort, but has been soundly beaten three times since. If recapturing that form he’d have a good chance in this off a mark of 86 but he’s impossible to recommend at present and others have much sounder claims.
7 THE LION MAN – 0-14 over timber and though he was a goodfourth when employing front running tactics at Towcester (2m 7f, Good) on his penultimate start, only beaten around 10 lengths. Now on his lowest mark over hurdles, so if given a soft lead and settling better he should be a big danger with conditions to suit. A capable 5lb claimer on board helps him shed further weight so is an interesting proposition, and one worth taking today.
8 GUITING POWER – Wasn’t far away when second at Fontwell in November (3m 1f, Good) which was a good effort and he’s now on a 1lb lower mark, but he’s still 0-10 over hurdles and a modest maiden at best. Nigel Twiston-Davies yard is in great form with a record of 8-34 in the past two weeks and if back to his best on this mark he’d certainly be dangerous to discount, with conditions to suit. Big Each Way player and is one of the more interesting runners in the race.
9 EDDY – Wasn’t running badly in 2015 with several second places off 3lb higher marks than today’s, but was a well held 10th on his return at Wincanton (2m 5f, Good to Soft), though it wasn’t devoid of promise after over a year off. Will need to step up on his second run after the break with a record of 0-17 not helping his case, but he’s entitled to come on from that run and could be a good each way angle into the race with Thomas Cheeseman claiming 5lb.