Racing tip of the day
Our man Will Hayler looks through today's action at Exeter and selects On Trend as value to score in first-time blinkers.
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The application of headgear is no mysterious panacea. A slow horse will always be a slow horse, whatever fancy dress you equip him with.
But for a horse capable of showing a decent level of form who seems suddenly to have lost his way, fitting something to keep his mind and his eyes on the job can produce remarkable results.
On Trend barely lifted a leg at Sandown last time out, leaving connections deflated over such a miserable performance in a race he had won 12 months earlier.
But the cumulative effects of that effort and a sequence of other efforts varying between very poor and fair this season means he now sits on a handicap mark more than a stone lower than from which he started the campaign and there are reasons for thinking sudden improvement might be forthcoming in the ICB International Construction Bureau Handicap Chase, the 4.10 at Exeter.
Not only does he encounter good ground for the first time since finishing a fair seventh (beaten 24 lengths, off 17lb higher) in a £50,000 race at Cheltenham's Open meeting, but having registered his last two successes at Sandown and Towcester, tracks with notoriously stiff uphill finishes, there's every chance he will be winging up Haldon Hill this afternoon when other rivals have cried enough.
If the blinkers help him to travel better, as I hope they will, he certainly won't lack for stamina over this three-mile trip. Tom Cannon might even think about changing the tactics as he has made all successfully in the past, although I guess there's a risk that he might do too much too soon if sent to the front to the start.
Either way, I think he has a better chance than double-figure odds suggest and he's worth a small bet. It's been a while since Nick Gifford last sent out a double but I wouldn't put you off his stablemate Generous Ransom in the NFRC South Western Committee Handicap Hurdle Division 2. He too has been waiting for better ground and looks far from harshly-treated for his first step into handicap company.