Tip Of The Day: Rock solid?
Can you forgive a horse turned over at 1/2 on his hurdling debut? Our Will Hayler says he can at Ascot this afternoon.
Alan King, trainer of Criq Rock.
It will be a big surprise if Tom George doesn't register his most successful campaign for a long time this season.
With 25 winners on the board already, a serious challenge towards his best-ever total of 50 achieved back in 2003/4 looks well on the cards.
George – whose 'claim to fame' of being the poshest-voiced trainer in Britain has come under a serious challenge in recent times from the likes of Charlie Fellowes and some of the other young bucks in Newmarket – has every chance he could improve upon that tally today, even if the interesting Behind The Wire has been pulled out this morning at Ascot (another day, another novice handicap chase for that one).
The Chepstow bumper won by The Worlds End has worked out notably well and I'd expect him to have a good season. He's already been nibbled at in the betting for the opener at Ffos Las and a big run must be on the cards.
But the main selection today comes at Ascot where Criq Rock is worth a bet to beat favourite Thomas Campbell in the Olympus Introductory Hurdle.
The winner of two bumpers and mid-division in the big one at the Cheltenham Festival, he's held in a bit of regard by Alan King, but didn't get the chance to show his true colours first time out over hurdles at Chepstow.
Held up in rear behind a very slow pace, the horse pulled far too hard for his own good and made a mess of the second-last hurdle, but showed appealing resolution to make late gains behind the first two and he was only beaten a couple of lengths at the line having looked set to finish well beaten after that jumping error.
I suspect he will be going up in distance at some stage, but I still think he's worth a bet to overturn the favourite whose Cheltenham form from the Showcase meeting carries mixed messages.
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