A good card at Exeter for the ITV cameras on ground described as good to soft on Saturday morning.
Anthony Honeyball has his string in good form, and FANFARON DINO can maintain his decent run in the 2m handicap hurdle. The selection is Richie McLernon’s only ride of the day, and the jockey could certainly do with a winner, having gone thirty-seven rides without a winner at the time of writing.
McLernon was in the plate when the lightly-raced grey scored at Fontwell back in the spring when he showed improved form for the switch to a decent surface. He represents powerful connections, and a market move would be significant.
Both Faustinovick and HOW’S THE CRICKET did us a favour last time out, and I am loath to desert the former, but not for the first time in recent years - the Tizzard yard have had a dip in form in recent weeks – one winner from their last thirty runners – and preference is for the Harry Fry trained gelding who is 8lbs higher than when scoring at Ffos Las on his chase debut last month.
Get Back Get Back was given a shocking ride/didn’t have the race run to suit at Ascot on Friday, but the Harry Fry yard remains in good form, and I am also looking forward to seeing Dubrovnik Harry make his chase debut for the yard earlier in the card.
This is a terrific race that befits the prize money on offer, and many believe the selection may have been a tad fortunate to score last time when Ballinsker came down two out while still holding a narrow lead. I disagree and feel the step back up in distance to three miles will bring about further improvement.
Fern Hill has yet to win in five starts over fences, but he has finished second four times and deserves to get his head in front. However, he may have to play second fiddle again to BEAR GHYLLS, who ran a tremendous race on chase debut when third at Carlisle when he made a couple of significant errors.
That was his first start in almost 600-days, and he has been dropped a couple of pounds for the run. James Bowen keeps the ride for this exciting novice who would not want the ground to dry out too much. Conditions were given as soft on Saturday morning, and that would be ideal.
I am a fully paid-up member of the STATE MAN fan club, having been with the horse at Cheltenham – County Hurdle - and Punchestown – Grade 1 Novice - last season, and I hope to see him make the transition from novice to Champion Hurdle contender in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle for Willie Mullins who has saddled the winner of the corresponding race nine times in the last decade.
Stablemate Sharjah has won the race twice previously – 2018 & 2021 – but if there is a Champion Hurdler in the stable, then it is surely State Man or this year’s Triumph Hurdle winner Vauban who was taken out of the race at the 48-hour stage.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.