3.50pm Exeter Tips & Betting Preview 24/02/2017

A marathon three furlong and six furlong trip awaits the runners and riders of teh 2017 Devon National on Friday, in what looks a very competitive affair. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: West Of The Edge is really starting to hit new heights over fences but needs more off a career high mark, so this can go to SPOOKYDOOKY. Now 8lb below his last winning mark, he drops back to Class 3 company for the first time since his last win at Newbury in November 2015. Since then he has been a creditable fourth in the Midlands Grand National off a 15lb higher mark and has been tried in some much tougher races than today’s. He will stay today’s trip strongly and the softer conditions are to suit, so all is right for another big run from this likeable nine year old for the in form Jonjo O’Neill team who have previously won this race in 2010 and 2015. Abracadabra Sivola and Barton Gift are two others who look likely to place.

1 MOUNTAINOUS – Likeable thirteen year old who is twice a winner of the Welsh Grand National, and returned to some sort of form last time out when second at Hereford in a valiant effort behind stable mate Goodtoknow (3m 1f, Heavy). He plugged on that day and will clearly love this extra distance, with the softer conditions are likely plus. Only a 1lb above his winning mark for his last Welsh Grand National win and likely to be in their pitching under 7lb claimer Richard Patrick, and has to be respected.

2 THEATRICAL STAR – Wears the familiar colours of Brocade Racing for Colin Tizzard and has been in good form for the majority of this season, finishing a close second on his penultimate start in the Veterans’ Chase Final at Sandown in January (3m, Soft). He plugged on behind Perfect Candidate when fifth here on his latest start and this step up in trip looks certain to suit, as he was a game second in the 2015 Class Chase at Warwick over the 3m 5f trip. Now 2lb below his last winning mark and looks a likely candidate, so has to be respected.

3 KINGSWELL THEATRE – Has become inconsistent this season and despite running well at Chepstow three starts ago when third in the Grand National Trial (2m 7f, Good), he’s been well beaten the last twice. He was behind from an early stage in the Classic Chase at Warwick, and is now 2lb below his last winning mark as a consequence. He still makes little appeal however with that being his first attempt at the marathon distances, and others certainly making more appeal.

4 ABRACADABRA SIVOLA – Running well this season and got a well deserved victory when staying on much the strongest to land the spoils at Taunton earlier this month (2m 7f, Soft). Contends with a 5lb rise but looks interesting upped to this trip on the basis of his staying on second at Wincanton behind Alfie Spinner at Wincanton in January (3m 2f, Soft). Conditions are fine and looks a likely stayer, so if continuing this upward curve he’s impossible to rule out and needs consideration.

5 BARTON GIFT – Very sluggish start to the season but has got his act together in recent months, first winning at Bangor in December (3m 5f, Soft) and despite a lesser effort at Warwick off his 6lb higher mark (3m 2f, Soft), he got back to winning ways at Bangor over that same C&D a month later in good style despite looking very tired. C&D as recently as April, albeit off a 18lb lower mark but he has improved since then clearly. Conditions are to suit and Nico De Boinville is an interesting jockey booking, though a 7lb rise for this doesn’t see him very well handicapped. Hard to completely rule out and if this turns attritional he’s likely to be in there pitching, but just looks vulnerable off this mark for win purposes

6 DAWSON CITY – Another who has become inconsistent this season, and although a good second at Plumpton on his penultimate start (3m 4f, Soft), he was unable to pack it up when well beaten at Hereford two weeks ago (3m 1f, Heavy). Likely to be happier now back up in trip but others certainly are more interesting, especially as he’s still a maiden after ten runs over fences. Five second places don’t help his case and others are much more likely.

7 SPOOKYDOOKY – Now 8lb below his last winning mark, with that win coming back in November 2015 at Newbury (2m 6f, Soft) and he’s been highly tried since then in some tougher races where he hasn’t been disgraced on occasion, not forgetting his fourth in the 2016 Midlands Grand National (4m 1f, Soft) at Uttoxeter off a 15lb higher mark. Last seen tailed off in the Classic Chase at Warwick (3m 5f, Soft), but he is now on a dangerous mark with conditions and this trip to suit, also not forgetting his last venture into class 3 company resulted in his last win at Newbury. Jonjo O’Neill’s yard is in brilliant form and he has the services of Aidan Coleman, so must be respected as such as the handicapper handicapper really has given him a great opportunity today.

8 SAY MY NAME – Rated 130 over hurdles and wasn’t disgraced on chasing debut, finishing third at Chepstow after plugging on past beaten rivals (2m 7f, Soft). Retains the same mark as his hurdling one and looks likely to improve for the step up in trip, though there is certainly no evidence that he will. Needs more and others look much more likely, so he is dismissed today.

9 AUDACIOUS PLAN – His penultimate start at Bangor was a pleasing run back in December (3m, Soft), though he was unable to back that up when tenth at Newbury in January (2m 7f, Soft). Now on a mark of 121 which is a pound lower than when he was second at Punchestown over the 3m 6f trip back in May 2015. On that basis he’s interesting if back to his best he’d certainly be a threat off this mark for Rebecca Curtis with Jonathan Moore claiming 3lb, and needs considering. Can only be give place claims, though.

10 WEST OF EDGE – Had been running well over fences this season, winning for the second time this season from three races driven to success at Carlisle in December (3m 2f, Soft). He did however go back over hurdles when last seen, and was a disappointing second (3m, Heavy). Much more interesting back over fences, though he does need to contend with a 6lb rise from his last victory in December. He’s a winner at the 3m 3f trip and does look likely to stay, with conditions perfect for him and the Dr Richard Newland yard flying at present with three wins from their last four runners. Has to be respected and looks likely to run a big race with Sam Twiston-Davies taking the ride.

11 WOODFORD COUNTY – Ten year old for Philip Hobbs who is a C&D winner, with that coming back in December 2015 off an 8lb higher mark than today’s. Would be well handicapped on that basis but has been mainly poor ever since that victory, and was last seen tailed off at Plumpton in January (3m 4f, Soft). Almost impossible to recommend on that basis and others make far more appeal, so is best watched today.

12 MILLICENT SILVER – A very inconsistent horse over fences, with form figures of P411BP on her runs so far. The latest of her wins came in April at Newton Abbot (3m 1f, Soft) off today’s mark, though she clearly has work to do as she was last seen over these obstacles pulling up at Bangor in December. Went back over timber for her latest run when third at Ludlow (2m 7f, Soft), not beaten far and that may have gained her some confidence back. Others make far more appeal though, and she is best watched today.

13 VICE ET VERTU – Gained his first victory over fences when winning at Ludlow in November (2m 7f, Good to Soft), winning by twelve lengths and as a consequence was raised 12lb. He was unable to cope with that rise though when beaten at Warwick in December and is only lowered a pound on that back of that run (2m 7f, Soft). Raised in class for today’s effort and looks up against it here, despite the trip looking likely to suit. Small each-way claims if back to form but others make much more appeal.

14 TALK OF THE SOUTH – Form figures of PP2F2 don’t inspire much confidence behind Paul Henderson’s eight year old and although he was second on his latest start at Plumpton (3m 1f, Heavy) off today’s mark, he looks unlikely to back that up. Raised in class and not certain to stay this trip, as he will travel well on occasion but find little when asked. Others are readily preferred on this occasion.

15 AMBION LANE – Only six runs under rules but hasn’t shown much promise in any of those, and he was never threatening when pulled up four out at Ffos Las in December on chasing debut (2m 7f, Heavy). Goes up dramatically in trip but on the basis of everything he’s shown thus far, he cannot be recommended with nothing looking to be in his favour.

16 THE CLYDA ROVER – Thirteen year old who has completed one run in his last five, with that only completion when tailed off at Exeter in Novmeber (2m 7f, Soft). On that basis, he is impossible to recommend and would be a hugely surprising winner of this.

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