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The Loader Look: A Silver Lining At Huntingdon

There has been a lot of racing over the Flat and Jumps across the long Easter weekend, with the All Weather Finals on Good Friday at Newcastle and the three-day Fairyhouse meeting, which included the Irish Grand National, so we’ve got plenty to dissect.

My first port of call is going to be with Duke Of Oxford, who finished second in the Marathon Handicap on All Weather Finals Day for Michael Bell. He ran well to stay on in the closing stages and was the only horse that made significant headway from across the pace, which should be marked up.

The son of Kingman He’s been improving a lot across the winter in staying handicaps and has taken the scalps of some good horses, including the likes of Enemy, who won the Winter Derby and placed in competitive races in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, he has mostly been campaigned on the all-weather in his career, with only two appearances on turf. However, he should be worth another go on the grass, as he had excuses for both runs, and he looks like a different horse now. 

The handicapper currently has him on a mark of 91, and with him looking like he’s still on an upward curve, he could definitely feature in a race like the Chester Cup or the Northumberland Plate later in the season.

Elsewhere on Newcastle’s card, Elegant Man looked like the racing old cliche of a group horse in a handicap. He had plenty stacked against him going into the race with a wide draw and carrying the top weight, but he managed to overcome both of those things as he made all the running. The four-year-old colt has entries in the Alleged Stakes and Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in the coming weeks, so he could well go on to be a top-class horse.

Moving on to Saturday, the only horse that made my list at Haydock was Salsada for Brian Ellison. She did well to come from a long way back to finish third in the hands of Rhino’s racing ambassador, Henry Brooke. Connections have made it clear that they think she’s a smart horse and that the key to her is good ground. Last year, she finished fifth in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, off a 10lb higher mark than what she’s racing off now. I think if they decide to roll the dice again with her in the same race later this month, she could run a big race at a big price as long as the ground isn’t too soft.

Plumpton had a good two-day meeting, with the highlight for me being Sea Invasion. It looks like Chris Gordon had been bringing him along with handicaps in mind, and he made mincemeat of his handicap mark with a comfortable success. Before his win on Sunday, he had been campaigned over 2m which just looked to be on the short side for him. I think in the future we’ll see him more over intermediate trips and possibly even further, which should suit. He looks like one to note next season, wherever he goes, over hurdles or fences.

Lastly, my attention is going to turn to Huntingdon, where I think the bumper is going to be a race that will throw up a few winners. The winner Country Mile was a well-backed favourite for the Skelton’s, but the horse that I am taking away from it is Silver Thorn, for Emma Lavelle. 

He hadn’t been seen since January, when he finished fourth at Fontwell on heavy ground. I think he shaped better than the bare result that day, and I also think his connections decided to keep him away from those kinds of conditions, which showed yesterday with his second-placed effort on better ground. We might not see him again this season, but I think he’ll be a horse to follow over obstacles, so he’s one to put in the tracker.

With the weather playing havoc with the racing fixtures this week, we might not have too much to talk about, with the likes of Sedgefield and Nottingham having already been called off. However, the Grand National is just around the corner, and I’ll be doing plenty of previews to look ahead to the biggest race of the year, so stay tuned for more from me!

Horses To Note

Duke Of Oxford (Michael Bell)

Elegant Man (Adrian Murray)

Salsada (Brian Ellison)

Sea Invasion (Chris Gordon)

Silver Thorn (Emma Lavelle)

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