ITV Racing Friday Exeter And Down Royal Preview

James Mackie | @jamesmackieee

Down Royal - November 04 2022
Down Royal 13:30
Mr Pat Taaffe

Champagne Problem

J: Mr Pat Taaffe
T: W P Mullins
Age: 5
Weight: 11-0
Days: 35

The first race of the afternoon on ITV comes from Down Royal in the Grade Three Mares Novice Hurdle and looks a fascinating event.

Full of smart bumper horses with plenty of strong form on offer we are siding with the Willie Mullins trained Champagne Problem who looks to have a big each way chance.

With four in the race it is tough to decipher which is the strongest horse for Mullins, but from what we have seen so far this five year old could go close.

Having some of the most experience over hurdles, she made her debut over flights in July when at Cork in a Maiden Hurdle and bolted up by 14 lengths.

A 38 length winner on her second start at Kilbeggan in August, she was last seen finishing second to a nice type for Normal Lee in a Listed Mares Hurdle at Gowran Park.

Experience might be key in this one and at the prices she should run a valiant race.

Exeter - November 04 2022
Exeter 13:50
Jonathan Burke

Whisky Express

J: Jonathan Burke
T: Harry Fry
Age: 6
Weight: 11-8
OR: 109
Days: 224

The first event from Exeter on Friday we have a selection for on the TV is Whisky Express for Harry Fry in the Mares' Handicap Hurdle over 2m 5 1/2f.

A winner on bumper debut in March 2021 at Taunton, she then made his seasonal debut last term over hurdles at Lingfield in January in a hot event with Russian Rumour and Speech Bubble the first two home.

Seen again in March she was a better in a Mares' Novice Hurdle at Wincanton, but she learnt from those experiences and finished the season by getting off the mark at Newton Abbot on soft ground.

Making her handicap debut in this event off a mark of 109, she should be better than that and looks an interesting runner for a yard who's had a few winners.

Down Royal - November 04 2022
Down Royal 14:05

Fil Dor

T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 4
Weight: 11-10
OR: 147
Days: 188

The feature race of the afternoon at Down Royal is the Grade Two WKD Hurdle and although a poor renewal of the race, the top two in the market are exceptional talents and extremely hard to split.

We are giving the nod to Fil Dor from a price perspective, although Pied Piper has the fitness angle, we think Fil Dor is worth backing at odds against.

A superb talent for Gordon Elliott last term starting at this meeting having joined from France and he went on to bolt up by 16 lengths, from Listed winner Sea Sessions.

Making it back to back wins in a Grade Three at Fairyhouse when showing grit, he made it a hat-trick of wins at Christmas at Leopardstown when beating the same horse by a wider margin, giving weight away.

From there he has raced three more times in Grade One company and has bumped into the superb Vauban and has chased him home on all three occasions.

Starting in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the DRF, he was then second again in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and then again at the Punchestown festival.

It is a coin toss between Fil Dor and Pied Piper but we are siding with the French exploit on price.

Exeter - November 04 2022
Exeter 14:25
Tom O'Brien

Thyme Hill

J: Tom O'Brien
T: Philip Hobbs
Age: 8
Weight: 11-2
OR: 161
Days: 209

Although having only three runners, the Silver Bowl Novices' Chase over three miles sees Thyme Hill make his chase debut and we think he will be very tough to beat.

A superstar hurdler who's record speaks for himself a Grade One winner at Aintree's Grand National meeting in 2021, he has also landed a Challow Hurdle as a novice and Long Distance Hurdle during his career.

As well as those wins he is also known for putting up placed efforts in races like the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, Long Walk Hurdle and Stayers' Hurdle at the 2022 Cheltenham festival.

Now sent chasing and said to be schooling well at home, he is a far better horse than these in the field and the only thing that can stop him are the fences.

Down Royal - November 04 2022
Down Royal 14:40
Sam Ewing

Now Where Or When

J: Sam Ewing
T: S R B Crawford
Age: 7
Weight: 11-5
OR: 123
Days: 201

The final event from Northern Ireland is the Handicap Chase over 2m 1/2f and this event is an extremely tough one to call from a betting angle, with a lot of strange form on offer.

Many of the horses are better over further distances but a winner at then trip and largely consistent throughout his career is the Stuart Crawford trained Now Where or When.

A fair hurdler in 2021 between 2m and 2m4f, he was sent chasing at Down Royal in December and was second to the smart Fakir D'alene.

Dropped to two miles at Fairyhouse in January he got off the mark in good style and then backed that up over todays course and distance when third.

Tried at three miles on handicap debut he was pulled up at Navan, he was then tried at the trip again and was a better third behind Dusart at Ayr in the Novices' Champion Handicap Chase at the back end of last season.

Having one more run last term he was a decent second to Gevrey who he opposes again in this, that was on level weights that day but now getting 11lb, he could go close at an each way price if taking to the drop back in trip.

Exeter - November 04 2022
Exeter 15:00
Brendan Powell

Killer Kane

J: Brendan Powell
T: Joe Tizzard
Age: 7
Weight: 12-0
OR: 130
Days: 209

The penultimate event of the afternoon on ITV comes in the Stayers' Handicap Chase over three miles and Killer Kane, although top weight looks a class above these horses.

The Joe Tizzard trained gelding was bought for £300,000 in 2020 at the Cheltenham sales and although taking some time to warm up, looks to be a classy chaser.

Learning from his first three chase runs that were average, three starts ago on his first try at three miles he got off the mark in taking style, revelling in the trip at Kempton.

Up to a mark of 126 he landed a Listed Handicap Chase over 2m4f, staying well at the finish to land the prize.

Upped to a mark of 131 he went in search of a big pot at Aintree's Grand National meeting and was a decent third behind Sam Brown and Shan Blue.

Dropped 1lb to a mark of 130, although giving weight away he should be going close in this if wanting to be competitive in good staying chases throughout the season.

Yard flying.

Exeter - November 04 2022
Exeter 15:35
Harry Skelton

Third Time Lucki

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 10-11
OR: 153
Days: 209

The final event of the afternoon is Exeter's feature event of the year with the Grade Two Haldon Gold Cup seeing five decent chasers head to post.

We are taking a chance on Third Time Lucki on his first try in open company and hopefully being ridden differently might be the making of him.

A decent hurdler winning some Novices' hurdles and rounding off the 202/21 season with a sixth of 25 in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.

Sent chasing last term he looked a superb talent, winning his first two events at Cheltenham from the front, his second win in Grade Two company.

Third behind Edwardstone in the Grade One Henry VII Novices' Chase, he then went to Doncaster in January and landed the Grade Two Lightning Novices' Chase with ease, albeit only beating two runners.

Second to Edwardstone at Warwick In the Kingmaker Novices' Chase he skipped the Cheltenham festival and was seen finishing third to Gentleman De Mee in the Grade One Maghull Novices' Chase.

Goes well fresh and looks a big contender.