Pull a Lapin out of the hat
Ben Linfoot picks out a best bet, a longshot, a horse in focus and a daily special to consider ahead of today's action.
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Nick Williams has hit a bit of form recently after a slow start to the season with three winners from his last seven runners. One of those was a debut winner of a bumper but the other two had had runs under their belts and Lapin Garou looks like another who could improve markedly following a run out. His seasonal debut came at Uttoxeter where he was a remote fifth of seven in a beginners chase but this point winner looks to have been given a much easier task here in a weak handicap off a mark of 87. His efforts in points show he has potential and as an unexposed five-year-old against a bunch of moderate handicappers even a modicum of ability would have to see him go close. Prices around the 11/4 mark look fair for a horse whose type his trainer excels with.
Alastair Lidderdale's seven-year-old mare had a couple of years off the track before a promising reappearance at Newton Abbot in August where she was fourth of 14 in a handicap hurdle off a mark of 103. Next time she disappointed at the same track off the same mark but it could be that second run back she really felt the effects of her long lay-off. Given time to recover since she could be a different proposition today and because of that latest run is available to back at prices up to 25/1. She could be worth an each-way investment at those sort of odds as she's been dropped 5lb by the handicapper and is now just 3lb higher then when she won a handicap hurdle over today's course and distance in August 2010. That was on much better ground but she's won in heavy conditions off a higher mark and is worth close scrutiny if you are happy to put a line through her latest run.
A week ago today Billybo hosed up on his debut for Tim Vaughan from 9lb out of the handicap, making all to win by 36 lengths and landing odds of 4/7. His price is even more prohibitive today but with his 7lb penalty he's just 4lb out of the handicap with Richard Johnson taking over from Dougie Costello in the saddle. He's obviously a much improved performer since his switch to Vaughan and looks nothing more than a steering job today against a bunch of moderate rivals over a trip that should suit.
The tradersbettingexchange Handicap Hurdle at Sedgefield looks a particularly trappy race even with the defection of Ballybriggan supposedly making things easier for the punter. The Thirsty Bricky and Stanley Bridge are both in-form course and distance winners who will be fine in the testing ground and they look sure to be given a race by Lightening Rod who was a good third at Wetherby last time. Throw in Micky Hammond's Pertuis who could be interesting at the weights and it has all the ingredients of a close encounter. Almost 2/1 about a winning distance of under 2.5 lengths therefore looks fair in this competitive 2m1f contest.