Side with Shernaz to make it a double
Having created his own little bit of history by becoming the very first Irish-trained winner at Plumpton on Monday, Shernaz is taken to follow up under a penalty at Towcester tomorrow.
A consistent sort with two Tramore wins to his name from 18 previous outings, the eight-year-old benefited from a shrewd bit of placing by Jim Dreaper on Monday, not to mention a canny front-running steer from Richie McGrath.
With just three rivals to beat, Monday's result amounted to a fairly typical example of a horse that had so often been frustrated at home enjoying a far less competitive opportunity in England.
Dreaper would have been a long time waiting to find a race in these parts that Shernaz could have won with such ease off a mark of 97, and there is a good chance that he has highlighted another winnable opportunity tomorrow.
With top weight of 12st 4lb, Shernaz might seem up against it, but this really is another pretty dire contest.
Jolly Boys Outing is about the only one of his eight rivals that you could see being a legitimate threat. A bit of a course specialist, that one finished last season with a first, second and third at the Northampton venue.
However, he has never won first time out in his life, and is now 16lbs higher than when he scored here back in March.
When you compare that with Shernaz's seven-pound penalty for what was a comprehensive triumph on Monday, it's not hard to see McGrath's mount collecting again.
Also fancied is Spot The Ball in the conditional jockeys' chase. Just five run in this, and there are none more intriguing than Jonjo O'Neill's six-year-old, which is making its fencing debut in a handicap off its hurdle rating.
That isn't entirely unusual for one of O'Neill's, while the booking of Maurice Linehan, who takes eight pounds off the selection's back, is a real positive.
Granted, Spot The Ball failed to win over hurdles, but he was an encouraging second on his seasonal bow at Uttoxeter in September.
Outsider to note
Warren Greatrex's eight-year-old is well worth a look at what should be fairly long odds in tomorrow's novices' handicap chase at Exeter. A decent bumper winner nearly three years ago, Cabinet Minister won a handicap hurdle the following season off today's mark of 120.
He ran just once more after that, pulling up before missing the last campaign with an injury.
As a result, he comes here after a long lay-off, but Greatrex knows how to prepare one, and it is significant that he has opted to start off in a handicap.
With the peerless Noel Fehily booked, it would be no surprise if Cabinet Minister runs in to a place.
Exeter 2.00 -- Cabinet Minister
Towcester 2.15 -- Shernaz
Towcester 3.15 -- Spot The Ball
Cork 2.25 -- Daring Article
85,000 Sea The Stars' 2012 service fee at Gilltown Stud. Unchanged for a second year in a row, the price-freeze was announced the day before his first five foals sold for an average of €590,500. You wonder if it's a figure that might soon be revised.
1,456 Race meetings scheduled for Britain next year after the delayed fixture list was finally revealed on Thursday. The figures represents a drop of 24 on 2011.
2 The number of Cartier Awards that went Ballydoyle's way on Tuesday, with Maybe and Fame And Glory honoured in their respective categories.
Quote of the week
"I just wasn't happy with him -- a few of mine are a bit backward. If it had been another horse, without the high profile he has, I probably wouldn't have made the decision until Friday." -- On a day that he saddled a treble at Fairyhouse and 24 hours before saddling another at Thurles, a red-hot Willie Mullins announced that Hurricane Fly would not run at Punchestown tomorrow, and left us to ponder what his horses might do if they were less backward than they are right now.
Three things we
learned this week
1 Jim Bolger is still the daddy when it comes to predicting where the money's at. One of the first to identify and profit from Galileo's stallion potential, on Thursday he consigned three of Sea The Stars' first crop of foals at Goffs.
They sold for €2m, with the sale-topper breaking Goffs' record for a foal at €850k. The same day, Waterford's Michael Ryan sold a filly foal by Sea The Stars out of Finsceal Beo -- which Bolger trained -- for €800k, before Bolger's Banimpire brought the house down yesterday by becoming one of the most expensive thoroughbreds ever to come under the hammer in Ireland when selling for €2.3m.
Imagine how bright the Wexford native's future might have been if he'd only finished that accountancy degree all those years ago...
2 Ruby Walsh has rarely encountered such competition for rides.
He remains the supreme practitioner of his trade but, with some owners having their own jockey and Willie Mullins seeking to give son Patrick more opportunities over jumps, Walsh has recently been supplanted with unusual regularity. Davy Russell and Andrew Lynch have been the other beneficiaries on the Mullins horses, and being able to draw on Mullins-trained firepower is a considerable addition to both men's briefs.
3 Understanding the dynamics of Irish racing is no easy task. Over 100 horses were balloted out of last night's all-weather card at Dundalk, bringing the figure to over 1,000 in the past nine meetings. Yet, in four races worth an aggregate of €180k at Punchestown tomorrow, there are just 20 runners. Try figure that one out.
Monday: Ffos Las, Kempton, Ludlow.
Tuesday: Lingfield, Sedgefield, Southwell (AW).
Wednesday: Fontwell, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield (AW), Wetherby.
Thursday: Thurles, Kempton* (AW), Newbury, Taunton, Uttoxeter.
Friday: Dundalk* (AW), Doncaster, Musselburgh, Newbury, Wolverhampton* (AW).
Saturday: Gowran Park, Bangor, Newbury, Newcastle, Towcester, Wolverhampton* (AW).
Sunday: Wexford, Navan, Carlisle, Leicester.