Eel Presidente has chance to take charge
Formerly a winner on the Flat and over hurdles for Mick Halford, El Presidente catches the eye on his jumping debut for Neil King at Sedgefield tomorrow. The Daylami five-year-old encounters fences for a first time in the card's beginners' chase, and looks a more appealing option than either of the two horses forecast to be ahead of him in the betting.
Industry prices suggest Howard Johnson's Gringo will open favourite but, at 5/4, he is too short for a first-timer. Son Of Flicka, representing the Donald McCain yard, is next best. Having failed to complete the course on two of his three runs over fences, neither does that one look a smart option.
While we don't have much recent form to go on with El Presidente, his trainer's horses have been running well, and 9/2 represents a bit of value about an unexposed type. A winner of a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park in December 2008, El Presidente subsequently ran a blinder in a winners' race at Leopardstown.
Giving 12lbs to the winner, which hasn't run since, he had the highly regarded Alexander Severus behind when finishing a good second that day. El Presidente failed to progress from there, and was bought by King at the end of last summer.
Ultimately, El Presidente's indifferent form after that Leopardstown run may have been down to the fact that, between hurdling and Flat racing, he had been on the go non-stop for nearly 12 months during what was his first season in training. Since joining King, a respected handler, he has had just one run on the Flat, when struggling on unsuitably fast ground. Having been freshened up, the switch to chasing, combined with some soft ground, may bring about a return to form.
Later on the card, Only The Best is taken to score for Ferdy Murphy (above) and Graham Lee in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle. Twice placed in maiden hurdles on stiff tracks at Hexham and Carlisle, Only The Best got no run when stepped up in class around the much sharper Huntingdon. Murphy has opted to send him handicapping now, and this is the right race to start in.
Sphinx, which is unlikely to run if Haydock goes ahead, is hardly a progressive sort at 12, while Of Course, the only recent winner, is already well exposed.
With three miles and three furlongs in soft ground expected to suit Only The Best, the seven-year-old can strike.