IT’S been a frustrating few days – with four of my last five NAPs coming home second, Bobby K the only one delivering the goods.
But they’re in the mixer with a shout and it’s only a matter of time before we go on a roll.
THOMAS DARBY (Ascot, 2.05) is just the tonic to snap this spell of ‘seconditus’.
There’s only eight runners in this hot hurdle, but it’s a field full of potential. None more so than Olly Murphy’s five-year-old who is reunited with Richard Johnson.
He won in good fashion at Cheltenham, when looking like a big baby and should come on a tonne for it.
He looked a tad wayward up the hill but found plenty when challenged by Elixir De Nutz.
Despite being green, he showed he’s willing and didn’t lack for a gear change when needed. He’s big and gangly, and the signs are he will improve plenty.
The Tizzard runner-up has franked the form nicely, winning the Grade 2 Supreme Trial over the November meeting.
This is a step up, but Murphy will know where he stands with this horse heading into the race, with Elixir De Nutz beating the Murphy-trained Itchy Feet over the weekend.
Murphy has said “he wouldn’t swap his horse for anything” and I think he has every right to be confident in his runner.
He’s bred to belong at the top level and could be the horse that takes Murphy to the next level this season.
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Staying at Ascot, I like BREAKING WAVES (1.30). He ran in a very strong bumper on his reappearance and the form of that looks red hot. If he takes to hurdles he should be a level up from his rivals.
At a decent price, MORE BUCK’S (Ascot, 2.40) looks worth an each way shot. He’s on the up and those at the top of the weights have a lot to find on recent form.
On the all weather I’m chancing Charlie Appleby’s AQUANURA (Kempton, 6.45) who looks a shoe in on handicap debut.