Tip of the Day: Follow the money
Matt Brocklebank is encouraged by the weight of support for Ben Pauling's only runner at Newton Abbot this afternoon.
Trainer Ben Pauling is a shrewd customer with a good team behind him
It's a big year for trainer Ben Pauling – Nicky Henderson's former right-hand man now in his fourth season with a National Hunt licence – and stable star Barters Hill could be in action as soon as next Tuesday if he takes up his engagement at Bangor.
In the meantime it will be fascinating to see what Pauling can conjure with the likes of Leoncavallo, who has done the Appleby-Ferguson-Appleby double shuffle in mixing both codes over the past couple of years. He's one of the new recruits to Pauling's ever-expanding yard now containing 60 horses ahead of the start of the season proper and is pencilled in to follow his head second in Round 7 of the Pontefract Stayers Championship 2016 earlier this month with a bid for hurdles glory at Cheltenham's Showcase meeting this weekend.
And the omens are good, from an admittedly very small sample, with the trainer's 'first winter horse' (according to the refreshingly informative benpaulingracing.com) getting them off to a flyer at Market Rasen recently.
He won a bumper by three and a half lengths at 5/2, while the yard's two subsequent runners have finished third in a handicap chase at Kempton (Raven's Tower) and ninth in a Worcester bumper yesterday (Perfect Pirate).
So that makes today's only runner Expedite the yard's first winter horse to compete over hurdles and it's not hard to envisage the five-year-old being fully wound up for his first outing for his new trainer in the Par Inn Support "Prostate Cancer UK" Handicap Hurdle (4.05) at Newton Abbot.
He was described as a slow learner by his former handler Charlie Mann after opening his account at the second time of asking over obstacles on Boxing Day last year, but he had shown a modicum of promise in bumpers and was allotted a mark of 120 following his festive breakthrough, where he beat Dan Skelton's Late Night Lily and a couple of other subsequent winners in pretty taking fashion.
Two public outings in the New Year yielded next to nothing, Expedite having to be pulled up on both occasions but they were warm enough races and there's certainly enough factors in place now to think he could be worth chancing first time out.
They clearly include the stable switch to Bourton Hill Farm, which worked wonders for a number of animals last season, while the assessor has eased the selection 5lb to 115 ahead of his handicap debut in a race restricted to horses rated no higher than that figure.
Quickening ground would be a minor concern for a son of Brian Boru, whose progeny tend to enjoy getting their toe in, but there's some 'good to soft' in the description at the time of writing and if it was a wind problem that was preventing him going through with his effort when last seen (I'm speculating but he did drop out very quickly), Expedite could enjoy racing on a slighter better surface than he was last winter. The weight of money for him in the market suggests connections are hopeful that could be the case.
Midnight Sapphire is a danger according to the market but he beat a non-stayer in On Demand here last time and doesn't have the same scope as the selection anyway, while Jonagold and Alderley Heights have both gone up in the weights despite being beaten recently.
There are exciting times ahead for Pauling and while Expedite is highly unlikely to be a name on everyone's lips when the major meetings come around in the heart of the campaign, he's very much worth considering in the short term for a smart trainer on a sharp upward trajectory.
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NAP of the Day
|Date||Silk||Selection||Time / Course||Price|
|£10 Win Single Pays £45.00 with Bet365|
|18/08/2017||Pacific Salt||18:50 Newmarket|