Race five at Taunton is a competitive looking six runner handicap hurdle, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Grade 2 winner ROADIE JOE was in the process of running a brilliant race over C&D on his latest start when coming down from the lead two out, and he has since been dropped two pound in the handicap. He is now 2lb below his last winning mark and conditions are perfect for Evan Williams’ eight year old, who has the services of the in form Tom O’Brien to do the steering. He should take all the beating in a field full of question marks, with perhaps The Unit being his biggest threat with the form of his latest runs working out well.
1 QUALANDO – Won the 2015 Fred Winter at the Festival but things haven’t been straight forward since then, and incidentally he is yet to win since. Over fences this season, he was yet to really threaten and his latest fifth at Taunton was also his last run for the Paul Nicholls yard, as he has now joined the Alan Jones stable. Reverts back to hurdling which looks the right move and in this sphere he now 2lb lower than when second here over C&D in April. Conditions are to suit and if back to form he looks likely to run a big race under Tom Scudamore, respected.
2 ZARIB – Running well over fences but he returns to hurdling after falling at Cheltenham in January, looking beaten in a tougher race than this (2m 4f, Soft). Reverts to hurdling as a result, and he has shown some good form in this sphere, including a second at Fontwell behind Midnight Shot in October (2m 3f, Soft). On the same mark today which makes him very interesting a trip he stays out well, with the better ground likely in his favour. Dan Skelton’s yard is in brilliant form at present and he has to be respected.
3 THE UNIT – Has been steadily improving in this sphere and won over C&D on his penultimate start, comfortably dispatching Nicky Henderson’s Phobiaphiliac who was well fancied that day. Despite a 9lb rise he ran another brilliant race over C&D on his latest start, beaten by Air Horse one, with that form working out very well. Alan King’s yard are going very well at present and he has the assistance of Wayne Hutchinson which is another positive. He remains on the same mark for his latest run and looks the most likely winner.
4 ROADIE JOE – In the process of running a good race when coming down over C&D on his latest start, only narrowly headed at the time. Down 2lb in the handicap which makes him interesting and today’s conditions will, with wins on good ground in the past. Grade 2 winning hurdler at his best so he is clearly a smart sort at his best, and looks likely to run another good race for Evan Williams and the in form Tom O’Brien. Another to consider and shouldn’t be discounted.
5 ST SAVIOUR – Ran a big race three starts ago when third at Hereford in a blanket finish (2m, Soft), but has not been in such good form the last twice, well beaten at both Wincanton and Fontwell. Now back down to a mark of 126 which may help, but the better ground does raise a question mark and he faces some tougher competition today. Philip Hobbs’ yard is going well at present and Richard Johnson takes the ride but others do make much more appeal today.
6 VOLPONE JELOIS – Won a two mile course maiden back in December (2m, Good) and hasn’t been disgraced the last twice, finishing second to an improver at Taunton in February (2m, Soft). Remains on the same mark for Paul Nicholls and does have potential as a four year old, with stable jockey Sam Twiston-Daives taking the ride. Conditions are to suit and this trip wont be an issue, so he does have to be respected off a basement weight, looking a very likely danger.