Monday 24 July 2017

Master Fong can leave 'gypsies' reeling

The in-form Donald McCain and Jason Maguire have already far exceeded their personal best tallies this season.

At Hexham tomorrow, McCain saddles just two runners, both in the opening SIS Novices' Hurdle. With little to recommend Sally's Idea, Maguire's chosen mount Master Fong warrants a good look.

The powerful Howard Johnson-Denis O'Regan axis is represented by the sole winner in the race, King O'The Gypsies. Placed in his two previous starts before scoring at Kelso earlier in the month, that one clearly has the potential to carry a penalty to success in a race with few genuine challengers.

Nonetheless, King O'The Gypsies must concede a full 13 pounds to Master Fong in heavy ground, and that might just prove too big an ask. Master Fong has run four times over flights, only once finishing out of the first three.

The Dr Fong gelding has been competing in much more competitive races than tomorrow's. On his penultimate start, when third in a novice at Doncaster, he had two subsequent winners well held behind him, while the runner-up, Barwell Bridge, went on to finish fifth in the Triumph Hurdle.

Master Fong disappointed when beaten 15 lengths into third on his most recent start at Stratford, but there was an excuse for that effort. McCain opted to put blinkers on him for a first time, a decision that backfired when the horse was too keen for his claiming rider.

Lesson learned, the blinkers are off tomorrow, and Maguire's presence in the plate is a huge plus. With little else expected to trouble either of the two principals, the weight Master Fong receives from the likely favourite is enough to allow him another chance.

At Wincanton, Paddy Brennan has three mounts for Tom George. Quick Fix, in the Children's Trust Novices' Handicap Chase, may be the most attractive as a betting proposition.

Wise Men Say and Mon Chevalier probably come into this with more solid form on the book, but little has gone Quick Fix's way since he landed a maiden hurdle under Brennan last April. That was the only time that Brennan sat on the horse, and a combination of a falling handicap mark and suitable conditions of two miles on some decent ground could see the Galway-born rider keep that 100pc record intact.

Irish Independent

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