Fry's 'King' ready to rule at Wincanton
HARRY FRY, the man who successfully fine-tuned Rock On Ruby's Champion Hurdle preparation, might get one over on his old boss Paul Nicholls at Wincanton today.
Fry teams up with Rock On Ruby's Cheltenham rider Noel Fehily for three at a track that is synonymous with Nicholls winners and King Of The Night is expected to cause a bit of an upset in the Grade Two novice chase.
Nicholls' Poungach and Venetia Williams' Houblon Des Obeaux are the obvious dangers, but Poungach may lack experience having tipped up at the first on his fencing debut, and Houblon Des Obeaux has plenty to do under a penalty.
A smart hurdler that scooted up off 143 at Kempton last year, King Of The Night did lots right on his chasing bow under west-Cork born Fehily at Cheltenham in October.
Having been ridden patiently, he came to challenge three-out there, before being outgunned by Gordon Elliott's Carlito Brigante and Nicholls' Domtaline, which are two far more practiced rivals.
It was a cracking display that suggested he might yet fulfil his potential -- he pushed Sprinter Sacre to a nose in an Ascot bumper in 2010 -- and, given his prolific record at similarly quick tracks, the emphasis on speed here should suit once the ground is not too soft.
In the Elite Hurdle, Nicholls has a formidable hand in Zarkandar, Prospect Wells and Escort'men, but Baby Mix isn't without a chance for the bang in-form Tom George stable.
Another pacey individual that won at Cheltenham and Kempton on good ground last term, the French import held his own in what was a decent juvenile crop as a novice.
While he looked badly in need of his reappearance run at Cheltenham recently, he will strip fitter now and could have a big say off a feather-weight 10st 4lb under Paddy Brennan.
On the Flat, the British turf campaign draws to a close at Doncaster, with the showpiece November Handicap typically trying.
Following the unblemished season-long farewell to the mighty Frankel, it is somewhat apt that Henry Cecil and Tom Queally will be the focus of attention, with the still unbeaten First Mohican a hotly fancied favourite for the big race.
Highly regarded at Warren Place, this four-year-old wasn't seen for two years after making a winning bow at Yarmouth in October 2010.
On his return last month, he picked up two handicaps in quick succession, latterly drawing readily clear in soft ground at Nottingham.
He steps up to 12 furlongs now and, while that may not be a problem, of more concern is that he has shot up 20lb in the handicap. At a best-priced 7/2 from a bad draw, he is opposable.
Andrew Balding's Communicator has plenty appeal at up 16/1, though Blue Surf is taken to just shade the verdict.
Improving three-year-olds are always worth a second look against their elders at this time of year, and this Amanda Perrett-trained gelding is once such horse.
Blue Surf has won three from six this term, each time when the ground was good or slower, as it will be here again.
Over 10 furlongs in heavy ground at Newbury last time, he travelled with tremendous ease before stamping his authority all over the race from the two-furlong pole.
He did idle towards the end to allow Borug get back within a neck, but that was a flattering margin for the runner-up. A five-pound hike leaves Blue Surf with just 8st 7lb to carry now, and there are few more appealing than Jim Crowley's mount at around 11/1.
Reckoning also warrants consideration in the 10-furlong Listed race.
Sajjhaa is a more established sort and Wannabe Loved could yet prove smart, but Reckoning made a fine impression when scoring on its only previous start here just over a year ago.
Whatever it was that kept her off the track is obviously a slight concern, but Jeremy Noseda, fresh from Grandeur's triumph at Santa Anita, wouldn't run such a smart filly this late if she wasn't just right. With champion jockey Richard Hughes up, Reckoning should have her day.
Best Bet: King Of The Night