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Thursday 17 November 2016

Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle Preview

The Betfair Exchange “Fixed Brush” Handicap Hurdle, run over 2 miles 6 furlongs and 177 yards at Haydock, is often not quite as competitive as it appears on paper. Three favourites have won in the last 10 years, but nine winners in that period were sent off at odds of 12/1 or shorter. Nevertheless, the rigid construction of the obstacles – which are similar to plain fences, but obviously not as high – always makes for a fascinating contest, in which the emphasis is on clean, accurate jumping as well as stamina.

Rathpatrick (25/1) hasn’t been seen since pulling up in the valuable Murray Spielman Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown in April, but was sixth of 24, beaten 3½ lengths, behind Mall Dini in the Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival on his visit to mainland Britain and warrants close attention off an identical handicap mark. The Oscar gelding remains 12lb higher than when winning at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, but should be competitive if fit and ready to do himself justice after an absence of 205 days.

Western Cape (20/1) weakened quickly when only thirteenth of 18, beaten 70 lengths, behind Barney Dwan over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Sandown on his final start last season. That form leaves him with plenty to find with Two Taffs, but he was only beaten a head by Herbert Park over 2 miles 7 furlongs on his reappearance at Worcester and is entitled to improve for that run, his first since March. The Westerner gelding only 5lb better off for 63¼ lengths with Two Taffs, but he is almost certainly better than he showed at Sandown and remains a decent prospect.

Donna’s Diamond (40/1) unseated rider at the third fence on his chasing debut at Wetherby three weeks ago, but doesn’t look impossibly handicapped on the pick of his form over hurdles and merits consideration, despite stepping up in class. The Cloudings gelding is relatively lightly raced for a 7-year-old and, although still 5lb higher in the weights than when winning over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, has an abundance of stamina that should stand him in good stead for this stern test.

Selections: Haydock Saturday 2.25 Rathpatrick, Western Cape, Donna’s Diamond


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