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Sin Bin to score for in-form duo

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Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls

SPORTSFILE

Paul Nicholls

Carruthers returns to the scene of his finest hour when he tackles the three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase at Newbury today.

A half-brother to last week's massively popular Gold Cup hero Coneygree, the 12-year-old 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup victor has a similar catch-me-if-you-can running style to his younger sibling. With the ground after drying to good, though, Mark Bradstock's charge is likely to struggle to maintain his position at the business end here under close to top-weight for Nico De Boinville.

The recent Sandown winners No Duffer and Financial Climate are to the fore in the betting. Of the two, Tom George's Paddy Brennan-ridden No Duffer may be the one with the most scope to improve, as he is eight pounds higher this time on just his ninth chasing start.

He defeated the subsequent Carlisle scorer Russe Blanc by six lengths at the Esher track a month ago, so odds of 9/2 are reasonable, and he is an each-way bet to nothing at that.

However, it might be worth speculating that Paul Nicholls' Sin Bin can finally shake off his tag as a frustrating sort under Sam Twiston-Davies. Successful in two of his three bumpers, the Presenting gelding has failed to win in 13 starts since, twice finishing second in winter all-weather bumpers put on to counter abandonments.

In five hurdle starts, Sin Bin finished second three more times, and he has just one runner-up finish and a third to show from six chasing outings. That summary, though, doesn't do him much justice, as he seems to be an honest sort that simply lacks a gear.

On his most recent start at Ludlow, which is a quick track, he missed the first and last fences, keeping on at one pace for third off a mark of 120. The handicapper saw enough merit in that performance to raise him two pounds, leaving him in here second from bottom off 11st.

If Sin Bin improves slightly, he really should go very close, as many of his nine rivals are of the more exposed variety.

Crucially, he will absolutely relish the sounder surface, while the switch to the Hennessy course and distance will put a renewed emphasis on stamina, which seems to be his strongest attribute.

At odds of 7/1, then, Sin Bin appeals as a value option for a team that continues to thrive.

George's O Maonlai is worth keeping on side in the earlier handicap chase over two-and-a-half miles. A bumper and maiden hurdle winner here for Tim Hyde, the Oscar seven-year-old took time to acclimatise across the water this term.

On his latest outing at Newbury, he finally began to fulfil his potential, skating up over two-and-a-quarter three weeks ago.

O Maonlai is a whopping 15lbs higher now, but he has the scope to justify that hike under Brennan at odds of around 11/2.

 

Watching Brief...

Djakadam and Road To Riches head the betting for Punchestown's Gold Cup.

It's hard to argue with that, though it is possible to make cases against the Gold Cup second and third at this point, given that Djakadam ideally needs plenty of cut and Road To Riches had a hard race in defeat at Cheltenham.

Don Cossack is a top-priced 8/1 for the race, and there is some appeal about him at those odds. Gordon Elliott's charge won over most of three miles at Punchestown in the autumn, and he ran admirably well to be third in the Ryanair Chase in the Cotswolds, when he missed the ditch on top of the hill and then should have fallen when sandwiched two-out.

In the circumstances, Don Cossack showed character to battle up the hill, and it may be that three miles on decent ground is what he needs now. If Bryan Cooper (above) is on him come April 29, 8/1 will look very big.

 

A Little Each-Way

At Kelso, Knockara Beau returns for a first time since disappointing over flights at Cheltenham on his October reappearance.

As big as 20/1 outsider of 10 for the three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase, his Kelso record reads 1311212. He may be 12 years old now, but he has dropped to a favourable rating of 144, having won here off 139 18 months ago.

If Knockara Beau is anything like his old self, he will go close at his favourite track.

 

Dark Horse

Bling Noir is an interesting newcomer for Tony Coyle in the mares' bumper at Bangor.

A five-year-old daughter of High Chaparral, she has generated €33,000 in sales visits, Coyle paying £5,000 for her on her third appearance.

She is a three-parts sister to Pat Fahy's Little Miss Vic, which won a point-to-point and was placed in two maiden hurdles when last seen in the autumn.

Top Man Marty, which won a Thurles bumper for Gordon Elliott in November, is another sibling that was placed in an English maiden hurdle recently.

With all that in mind, Bling Noir is one to monitor in the market this evening.

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