A rare visit to Exeter for terrestrial television with Ed Chamberlin and the team taking in three races from the Devon race course with a further four coming our way from Punchestown with the feature race of the day being the Morigana Hurdle with Willie Mullins saddling three of the five runners. Officially the ground is good to soft (or yielding in Irish speak) at both meetings. Here are my horse racing tips for this Sunday.
The day’s ITV racing kicks off with a 2m 6 1/2F Grade 2 novice chase which should only concern the front four in the market. Amirite’s chase victory at Fairyhouse has been boosted by the subsequent victories of the 2nd and 3rd and shouldn’t be dismissed easily even though this will be tougher. Idas Boy is a classy gelding trained by Noel Meade and he looks the one they all have to beat following his second to Willie Mullin’s El Barra at Cork in a decent race. Meade also saddles Thedevilscoachman who will need to improve his jumping to take a hand in the finish. The only one of the seven not to have jumped fences in public is the Gordon Elliot trained Minella Crooner who is two from three at this track over hurdles and is a major player if taking to fences. I’ll play him to small stakes.
MINELLA CROONER 1 point win @ 3/1 bet365
Five go to post for this years renewal of the Morgiana Hurdle, the feature race of the day. Three of those are trained by master Closutton trainer Willie Mullins headed by last years winner Sharjah and ridden as usual by Patrick Mullins. He has a good record fresh and can put it up to the likely favourite and stablemate State Man. He was a very smart novice last season winning at the Cheltenham (County Handicap Hurdle) and Punchestown Festivals. Official ratings actually have Sharjah a 3lb superior horse to State Man although obviously the five year old may have more improvement to come than his nine year old stable companion. Mullins third string is Saldier who ended last season out of form and has it to prove again now. Gordon Elliott’s runner is Teahupoo, who like Saldier, lost his form at the end of last season and has something to prove now. It looks like it maybe a one two for Mullins and at the respective prices I’ll take Sharjah to pip his four year younger stable companion.
SHARJAH 1 point win @ 9/4 William Hill
A 2m 3F novices’ handicap chase to kick things off at Exeter today with nine declared. Four of the nine are making their chasing debuts and it’s Harry Fry’s Dubrovnik Harry who appeals as the most likely winner to me. Given a good write up in a recent stable tour this smart hurdler re-appears having had his wind done and tongue tied with Sean Bowen in the saddle. His mark of 128 looks reasonable and he can take this from the likes of David Pipe’s Neon Moon who should be suited by the drop in trip today and fencing newcomer Bowtogreatness owned by Harry Redknapp who is held in high esteem by his in form handler Ben Pauling but has missed two engagements this week already as he needs it very soft. Top weight Gustavian has already shown ability over fences and his experience will hold him in good steed today. Tricky but it’s Dubrovnik Harry for me on a day where trainer Harry Fry has some interesting runners.
DUBROVNIK HARRY 1 point win @ 4/1 bet365
It’s not often you have a maiden hurdle on terrestrial television but here we are with a 2m 5F 80 yards race where you can only really fancy a handful of runners as is typical of a race of its type in Ireland. Willie Mullin’s Seabank Bistro is a confident selection to make a winning hurdling debut with Paul Townend doing the steering. A comfortable 5L winner of a bumper at Naas on his hurdling debut he then went to Cheltenham for the Champion bumper finishing a highly credible 4th beaten only 9L. That is solid form which has already worked out well with winner Facile Vega, American Mike (3rd), Authorised Speed (5th), Poetic Music (6th), Music Drive (8th) and Spanish Present (9th) all winning since. If he can jump adequately he should be winning this with Sean Thomas Doyle’s Monbeg Park likely to chase him home.
SEABANK BISTRO 3 points win
A bumper field of fifteen line up for this three mile handicap chase. Harry Fry could be in for a good day at the Devon course today and his How’s The Cricket who’s been raised 8lb for easy win at Ffos Las four weeks ago should be thereabouts where the step up in trip likely to suit the seven year old. Joe Tizzard saddles recent Chepstow winner Faustinovick and has claims along with last years runner up St Erney. A lightly raced horse I can’t resist backing is Michael Scudamore’s Upton Road who is making his handicap chase today but this fragile eight year old could of got in lightly today. A maiden point to point winner three years ago he’s only run three times since but showed up well for a fair way in the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle three weeks ago and looks each way value. I’ll back him each way with enhanced places and the favourite How’s The Cricket.
HOW’S THE CRICKET 1 point win @ 9/2 bet365
UPTON ROAD 1 point each way @ 10/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
A typically tough Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle qualifier run over just short of three miles and with the rules changed this year that you have to finish in the first four rather than seven to qualify for the final at Cheltenham at March might entice some contestants to try and get a bit closer. It’s a very tough race with the betting market well worth watching. Without the knowledge of that it maybe worth a small each way interest with enhanced places on Gordon Elliott’s Coventry under Jack Kennedy. He doesn’t have a very good win record having won just the once from seventeen starts which is a bit of a worry but was an eyecatcher last time when 3rd of 16 at Galway in a similar contest over 2m 6F. Small stakes only here I feel.
COVENTRY 1/2 point each way @ 9/2 bet365 1/5th 12345
A dozen hurdlers line up for this 2m 2F class 3 handicap. There’s some interesting and unexposed types here none more so than Dan Skelton’s JP McManus owned Hartur D’Oudairies who we haven’t seen since flopping at Cheltenham 11 months ago. He’s making his handicap debut here and any market move would be interesting. As unexposed is Harry Fry’s Forever Blessed a winner of his first two starts last season before pulling up when favourite in the Finale hurdle at Chepstow at Christmas. He could be well treated. An interesting runner to my eyes is the David Pipe trained Martinhal who re-appears having been dropped 8lb and had a wind operation. He’s won twice from three starts at the Devon track and with the Pipe stable on fire currently he’s the bet here.
MARTINHAL 1 point each way @ 14/1 bet365 1/5 1234
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