The penultimate race of the day at Exeter on Tuesday is a two mile handicap hurdle, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: If in the same vein of form again, BACCALAUREATE looks a tough one to beat in this. Springing back to life when winning here over C&D eleven days ago, he won comfortably that day under today’s seven claimer and should be able to shrug off a 6lb rise in the weights in similar conditions. His opponents for the most part all have something to prove and Lovely Bubbly is likely to be his main creditable threat, though he needs to prove he can handle the ground.
1 HIGHLAND LIFE – NR
2 LOVELY BUBBLY – Tumbling down the weights this season after three very poor efforts so far this season, with his latest sixth at Fontwell in December (2m 3f, Good) another tame effort. Now down to a mark of 96, which is a career low and 14lb below his starting mark in handicaps, so he certainly has been given a chance by the handicapper. Tim Vaughan’s yard have been well and truly among the winners of late and Alan Johns takes off another valuable 3lb. The main concern though is that he goes onto soft ground for the first time today, with all eight of his starts on good ground. If handling it though he would have to be given a huge chance and is respected.
3 BRAVE DEED – Usually saves his best for Exeter, with his penultimate fourth here over the 2m 5f trip a step in the right direction. He didn’t however back that up on his latest start here over the same C&D, well beaten in ninth and he has some big questions marks to answer today. Namely the drop in trip, as going back down to the two mile trip doesn’t look likely to suit based on previous evidence. Conditions are to suit and a mark of 96 is fair at present, but there has to be a suspicion he’ll be outpaced in this if it turns tactical.
4 BLACKFIRE – Showed some useful form in France back in 2015 but his British form isn’t quite as compelling, well beaten on all three runs this season for Tom Symonds. He was always in the rear when tailed off on his latest start at Hereford and (2m, Heavy), and will need this 6lb drop in the weights if he’s to be threatening today. That may well be the case and this isn’t the strongest of races, baring in mind he has placed off a mark of 105 in the past. He’ll handle today’s ground and needs to be respected, as digging deeper does show he has a creditable chance in this.
5 BACCALAUREATE – Won his first race since June 2013 when taking home the spoils over C&D under today’s rider eleven days ago and has been raised 6lb as a result. He won comfortably that day though and he has the same 7lb claimer on board today to negate that penalty, with the rider clearly striking up a good partnership with him. This eleven year old will be right at home in today’s conditions and should take all the beating in a very weak race.
6 SPANISH QUEEN – Lightly raced four year old who is yet to show anything in four starts over hurdles, well beaten when last seen at Plumpton three weeks ago (1m 7f, Soft). On the face of it, she makes little appeal, but this is her handicap debut today and she has a much easier task on her hands with this race. Theo Gillard takes off a useful 7lb and she isn’t one to discount on paper for Mark Gillard. Watch the market, as she looks to have a solid each way chance in this weak looking race.
7 BUS NAMED DESIRE – Her form capitulated in January 2016, pulling up on four straight occasions which immediately sends out the red flags. She returned this season when well beaten at Southwell nine days ago and she looks firmly up against it today despite the in form Stan Sheppard taking off a very useful 5lb from her back. Others make far more appeal and it’ll likely pay dividends to look elsewhere in this.
8 SPARKLING ICE – Has suffered some very heavy defeats this season, including her latest start when well beaten at Plumpton last month (2m, Soft). She did show something when sixth at Taunton on her penultimate start (2m, Good), but that run is dubious when you consider the fact she has been well beaten on her other three runs this season. Softer conditions are a question mark and it’s hard to make a case for her today with all things consider.
9 MYSTERY DRAMA – Formerly useful on the flat and over hurdles, but she has been poor in both spheres since October 2015, with her latest start at Taunton another unsurprising heavy defeat (2m 3f, Good). Now down to a mark of 80 which is a career low, but she is only on this mark due to how poor she has been for a number of years. She’d be obviously dangerous if rediscovering some of her old spark, but there seems little danger of that occurring and she is likely best left alone.