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Friday 5 December 2014

Wilton Milan to follow-up

The Hennessy Gold Cup blog last Saturday was one of the most read blog pages I've published in recent months. Many thanks to all who read the blog, and I hope you all voted for me in the UK Blog Awards.

I hope those who read it enjoyed yesterdays look at the racing career of HEY BIG SPENDER who won the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle for the 3rd time in 4 years last Saturday. If you haven't already done so, please take the time to read it as HEY BIG SPENDER is a considerable chaser, possibly one of the gamest chasers in training over the past few years; and keeping him at the very top of the handicapping tree has been a significant feat of training for Colin Tizzard and his team.

There are a couple of interesting meetings today at Exeter and Sandown but, after an early view of the cards, it's unlikely that there will be much in the way of value. At Exeter, the novice chase over 2m3f & 110 yards looks exciting, as it brings together Deputy Dan and Saphir Du Rheu who were at the top of the novice staying hurdlers last season. I reckon the official rating of Deputy Dan of OR145 seriously underrates the ability of that horse, while the OR165 rating given to Saphir Du Rheu is probably a bit too generous - as such, I don't think there is that much between them over this sort of trip. However, Saphir Du Rheu does have a 5lb advantage on the race conditions. Nothing else in the race comes close to the quality of this pair so, as long as one of them are still in the race after the final fence, the winner should be one of them. I can't split them, so it's a race to watch and enjoy.

The handicap chase over the same C&D which is the next race on the card at 1:40 is more interesting. The race-fav is the Paul Nicholls trained Wilton Milan who won very easily last Friday at Newbury over a similar trip. He has since been re-rated OR134, but runs off his old rating of OR123 today - he looks as near a certainty to win as it is possible to get over jumps. Of the opposition, Filbert could be the one to give him most to do, as he's slipped from OR135 to OR130, and this "in-between" trip of 2m3f & 110 yards could suit him perfectly. He doesn't stay much beyond today's trip, so LTO at Sandown he was never going to win - but his run wasn't bad in the circumstances, especially as the ground that day was far more taxing than the "good-to-soft" description (more heavy than soft in my opinion). However, odds of 4/1 are poor value in my opinion, and I'm more taken by WORKBENCH who last won over 2m2f at Fontwell in October, and showed enough to suggest he was capable of wining at this sort of trip when only losing out on 3rd place on the run-in at Cheltenham on 18th October (race won by Johns Spirit). He didn't have the stamina for the 3m1f Badger Ales Trophy LTO, but was still the 4th horse past the post. This trip will be much more to his liking and odds of 7/1 look fair eachway value. Even so, it is difficult to see past WILTON MILAN and if you can get odds of 9/4 or better then that's the one to be on. Stan James go 5/2 but I'm not sure how much they'll let you have on.

Exeter 1:40 WILTON MILAN, £10 win @ 5/2 with Stan James (odds of 9/4 available elsewhere)

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