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Friday 8 May 2015

Swinton Hurdle Preview

The Pertemps Network Hurdle, registered as the Swinton Hurdle, has thrown up winners at 25/1 and 16/1 (four times) in the last ten years, so it’s definitely one of our favourite races at this time of year.

Rayvin Black (14/1) has been found wanting over 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Ascot and 2 miles 4 furlongs at Sandown in recent months, but has shown progressive form at, or around, 2 miles. Back at the minimum trip on a flat track, the Halling gelding promises to be a different proposition and is just 4lb higher in the weights than when beaten three-quarters of a length in the Imperial Cup, over 2 miles ½ furlong, at Sandown two starts ago. Underfoot conditions are likely to place the emphasis on speed, favouring those who race on or close to the pace, so Rayvin Black is definitely one for the shortlist.

Lexi’s Boy (25/1) has evidently had his problems, which have restricted him to just four runs over hurdles in the last three seasons, but he ran better than his finishing position suggests when ninth of twenty-one, beaten 19 lengths, in a similar race over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Aintree last month. The Verglas gelding only weakened between the last two on that occasion and, if he can build on that effort, looks far from impossibly handicapped. All four of his career wins have come at the minimum trip, on good, good to soft and soft going, so he looks another to keep on the right side.

Fergal (20/1) is an interesting contender insofar that he’s run in a novice chase at Plumpton, a maiden at Lingfield and 0-100 handicap at Chelmsford on his last three starts. He finished last of four in the former and last of seven in the latter, but won by 9 lengths at Lingfield, so probably isn’t badly handicapped off a mark of 141 if you consider he finished eighth of twenty, beaten 8¼ lengths, in the valuable Galway Hurdle last July off a mark of 143. Furthermore, he attempted to make all on that occasion, so a return to forcing tactics could show him in better light here.

Selections: Rayvin Black (14/1 generally available), Lexi’s Boy (25/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Coral) and Fergal (20/1 with Paddy Power).

Good luck!