Sunday 17 December 2017

Smiling poised for happy return

Keith Hamer

Exit Smiling can give punters the last laugh by winning the feature race at Ripon. The eight-year-old is a regular at the North Yorkshire venue and is a course and distance winner.

However, on his last visit he found the 10 furlongs beyond him as he finished fourth to Kings Gambit in a stronger race. He ran much better than his final position suggests when ninth to Osteopathic Remedy in the Thirsk Hunt Cup when only beaten three and a quarter lengths.

A return to his happy hunting ground can result in victory for Exit Smiling in the £16,000 Ripon, Yorkshire's Garden Racecourse Handicap.

Favourite Girl has not scored since her juvenile days but she can get back on track in the CB Hutchinson Memorial Challenge Cup (Fillies' Handicap). Her trainer Tim Easterby took this race 12 months ago with Ponty Rossa and this four-year-old has run respectably in both her starts this season.

She is steadily coming down the handicap and has been dropped a further 2lb after running fifth behind Tangerine Trees at Redcar three weeks ago when she was sent off favourite. She is definitely worth another chance.

The only Flat card of the day in Britain is complemented by a couple of summer jumping programmes at Market Rasen and Stratford. There are two £10,000 races at Stratford including the Moreton-In-Marsh Handicap Chase which can fall to the Renee Robeson-trained Kikos.

The eight-year-old returned from a nine-month absence to win at Uttoxeter three weeks ago when getting the better of Norborne Bandit, the only other finisher, by nine lengths in what started off as three-horse affair. That was probably an ideal way to come back and Kikos can strike again while the iron is hot.

Eve Johnson Houghton looks to have a useful National Hunt recruit in Roodolph and the six-year-old has a good opportunity to progress in the Salford Priors Novices' Hurdle.

Ovthenight can reap the benefit of a promising run at Stratford by getting his head in front in the Legsby Road Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen.

Sunday Independent

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