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Preview - 18 Apr 2008

4:00 AYR HILLHOUSE QUARRY HANDICAP CHASE (CLASS 2) (5yo+) Winner £18,786.00 2m4f GD-SFT

1. Three Mirrors – goes very well this time of year for Ferdy Murphy and isn’t a rariety as quite a few in the stable come to hand around this time of the year. The ground at Ayr Has started to dry out in the last few days and wouldn’t expect it to be too soft underfoot and more tacky ground that can still play havoc to those nearing the top of the handicap in terms of weight. Bounce back to form last time at Aintree behind a interesting type, he won at this meeting 12 months ago and clearly has a lot in favour today with the conditions underfoot very much to his liking. Has by far the best piece of recent form and is well respected in this handicap today.

My Rating – 144

2. Dear Villez – Well suited to soft ground he was never travelling in the Jewson handicap last time and may be in the grip of the handicapper as the Champion trainer looks for improvement in the horse against some more exposed types under these conditions and trip. Very Lightly raced for a 6yo he has had most of his runs in the last 12 months since beginning his career with Paul Nichols and may be an interesting horse next year. Needs to prove that tacky ground suits but is more then unexposed to potentially benefit from it.

My Rating – 138

3. Lucifeur Bleu – Has struggled this season after a profitable one prior and could well be struggling against the handicapper. For a 9yo he is quite lightly raced and has had some problems in the past, however he found his improvement after those missed seasons and may now need some help from the handicapper to be winning again. However with the ground starting to dry out his speed could be a interesting factor here today and certainly is likely to improve on recent efforts for the drop back to 2.5M after struggling to stay 3M at Newbury last time. Needs improvement to win of current mark and may be just held.

My Rating – 138

4. Endless Power – Hacked up in a average novice handicap at Aintree after the grand national and has a lot more on his plate today following that easy victory. The class of opponents is much stronger then that race and the tacky ground aren’t likely to help him out either having relished the quicker surface. 15lbs looks very harsh on that win and it may have put paid to him winning again. This race isn’t the greatest class 2 handicap either but he may be handicapped wrongly on that form last time as to me it wont stand up as genuine class 2-handicap form.

My Rating – 140

5. Edmo Yewkay – Winner last time when narrowly holding out to Ela Re in a class 3 handicap over 2M at haydock and is one of the most exposed chasers in this field if not the most. We know what we are likely to get from the horse and he does seem in the best shape of his career so far and is likely to be on the downwards curve next season. A win over Borora albeit from the right end of the handicap is most probably his best performance he has put up and despite the win last time, he should be handicapped to go well in what isn’t the classiest of class 2 handicaps. The trip he does stay, but wouldn’t want any further and he is vulnerable to a horse that may improve. The ground should be ideal and makes the shortlist being in good form.

My Rating – 137

6. Lysander – Quite lightly raced for a 9yo, but we know what to expect from the horse in these conditions. Ideally placed over trip and conditions, connections must have had this race in mind as he is likely to be in peak fitness and goes well this time of year. Yet to get to the same level he achieved over hurdles in this country where he was placed twice at this level he has started to get his act together over fences and could well hold his form at this higher level as he hasn’t be overburdened with racing since changing codes. The recent win over sparkling Taff has been franked since and he was well clear of the runner up that day.

My rating – 142

7. Coach Lane – Hacked up last time thanks to the clear 2nd coming to grief at the last fence and is from a yard that has been firing in the chase winners this spring since the Cheltenham festival. Stepping up in trip today he does have the hallmarks of a horse that has been on the downgrade since winning some half decent class 2-novice chasers in the winter months of last season. The bounce back to form in a rather weak race will have done the horse no harm and he may be able to bounce back to some sort of form. However he has been heavily tried and the possibility could well be that he isn’t as good as he once was and needs to be a little lower in the handicap to win a class 2 chase these days. Ground and trip are not certain to suit.

My Rating – 135

8. Jimmy Bond – A lot depends on how much the last race took out of the horse in extreme conditions at Ayr that day and the fact he made up so much ground under such a welter burden of weight has to be a bit of a concern in terms of today’s race. However he is a big strapping horse who should be able to handle the weight and he does have a action accustomed to bog like conditions. That piece of form would give him one of the leading chances in this handicap if under those conditions again, but with the ground drying out with the spring weather finally starting to arrive he may not have it all his own way. The ground shouldn’t go to much against him and he is one that enjoys tacky ground and with the trip and course in favour he has to go on the shortlist after the small rise in the handicap.

My Rating – 143

9. Another Native – out of the handicap here and looks very much on the downgrade after some good efforts back in 2005. Tacky drying ground has never been a good pointer to the chances of this horse. The trip however is ok and if he could find his old form he would have a chance as for a 10yo he hasn’t had to withstand too much racing. Dropping down to a mark he can win off, he has struggled to win at this level in the past and with his best performance recently over shorter; the hope is he can improve for the step back up in trip.

My rating – 133

My tissue – Three Mirrors 7/2, Jimmy Bond 4/1, Lysander 9/2, Endless Power 8/1, Dear Villez, Lucifeur Bleu 9/1, Edmo Yewkay 10/1, Coach Lane 14/1, Another Native 25/1.

Verdict – This is not a vintage class 2 handicaps for day 1 of the Scottish Grand National meeting, but one with some inform types in, so there is recent form to use. Three Mirrors clearly loves this time of year and given the lack of true class in the race, should run into the frame at the very least and the 6-1 on offer at some bookmakers is more then generous. Lysander was always going to be short given the recent effort and the fact he has been laid out for this. Jimmy Bond put up a cracking performance last time is very much one to consider if not feeling the effects of that race. 11-1 is worthwhile price to find out.

Selection Jimmy Bond 1 pt win @ 11-1 (BF 12.0) & Three Mirrors 2 pts win @ 6-1 (BF 7.0)

Best of luck all

Well Chief