Carlisle 12.20 Handicap Hurdle - Class 4 - 2 miles 4 furlongs - 17 run - Going is Good with Soft patches (little or no rain forecast)
A very competitive Class4 Handicap Hurdle and some nice Course form and also plenty who have had a run.
It's a big ask to win fresh here, a Course though where some will bring horses knowing they will have a good blow and gain fitness. A couple of miles round here is ideal fitness builder.
The top end of the market sees GORTROE JOE make stable debut for Fergal O'Brien, who is in great early form again, comes from Skeltons, best form on easier right handed tracks and may just need this, so I'll take him on. Also happy to take on second favourite CLONDAW PROMISE from Jonjo, that Yard has made a better start this season, couldn't be much worse than last few seasons, but another i think will benefit from the run. To cap a trio of travellers from The Midlands, is Newlands Handicap debutant TANGO ECHO CHARLIE, likely to be very well backed as some will follow Newland off a cliff. Had no real P2P form, went NHFlat and a few runs in non handicaps to get this marks. A collateral look at what's beaten it in those runs and what they have achieved in a few Handicap runs suggests the mark is "about right" but certainly not a handicap snip. I'm not convinced and happy to take it on. If those 3 come home 1-2-3, I'll have no complaints and simply have read the race completely wrongly. I'm happy to take that chance.
Of the rest, I think that BALLYCRYSTAL COURT for an in form Rebecca Menzies will be a danger, it's been a while since it raced over Hurdles though, has suffered from sloppy jumping over fences and although fit this may be a confidence booster. TRAPPER PEAK runs well fresh and has won last 2 seasons on seasonal debut but I'm not sure this Course will suit and nor about the inflated Handicap mark either.WBEE tries a new trip, caught my eye a few times but not for today I don't think.
That left me with my short list of three.
I'll just leave out AMBEROSE for Nicky Richards but will put it in a Tricast perm and if you want a bit of loose change, I won't put you off. A Course winner, likes right handed, ran well on seasonal debut, I think this trip just stretches the horse though and best runs at it have been on far easier flatter tracks.
I really like the form profile of IOLANI rock hard fit from the Flat, a Course and Distance winner when similarly fit, a bit above a winning hurdle mark of 108, off 112 here but that win was on softer Going, so no stamina concerns and I think core fitness will be a big asset here in the final stages.
I was drawn too to the profile and prominent running style of BANNIXTOWN GLORY for the McCain yard. Yard has had a quieter start than normal but nothing seems wrong generally. The horse has decent 3 mile P2P form so no stamina concerns, has had 3 runs so will be plenty fit enough, can run from the front and that could be an asset here and a win mark of 112, so the mark of 117 with a 6lbs Claimer, looks spot on and very competitive.
TRACKERS - Iolani + Bannixtown Glory (throw Amberose in if you want a cheeky Tricast Perm)