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DONTCOUNTURCHIKENS (David Dennis), 11-0, tongue tie

After sporting a tongue tie for his bumper debut and apparently making a pretty good fist of the new adventure by finishing third, he had failed to satisfy those closest to him and had a wind surgery. The first run after that was a big step backwards, and the second place that came next was a well beaten one in a five horse race. The hurdles debut was similar – third of five, not stuffed but lacking threat. Some sort of progress is needed, with only what he may have learned on hurdles debut being any reason to bring it about.

ESPRESSINO (Chris Down), 11-0, hood

Ended a run of pulled ups in pointing with an unseat. That is variety, even if the final outcome is still failure to finish. The switch to Rules implies that either the fences completely bamboozled him or that he does not stay well enough to see out a point-to-point race, even the three tried at 2m 4f. Whichever you opt to believe (or both!) it is rash to dive in and support a complete transformation in a 2m 3f hurdle race – even though it cannot be dismissed as impossible.

MONTANA GREY (Emma Lavelle), 11-0

He has one race under his belt so far. It was a Lingfield all-weather bumper, so a completely useless form guide, and it was back in December. The end result was a thirteen lengths fourth, which is a bit odd because those races tend to end in a late sprint, which means lots of clumping in the final positions. Clear winner Nimby has been beaten in both races since, the runner-up is now 0/4, the third has the same career record, and the sextet behind him have contested over two dozen races and have only a very suspect Irish point success to show for it. There are no good omens, unless he takes to racing on turf with a passion.

SPICY FRUITY (Louise Cabble), 11-0, official rating 110

After a fairly poor show when starting out in Irish points in 2015, he finished a close second in a confined maiden at the third try and switched to Rules. Four bumpers were taken in, four fourth places collected, then he looked at hurdles and had three thirds and a second place. Gordon Elliott sent him on his way after that and after missing all on 2016 he had a couple of poor British pointing runs. Another long absence was broken by a second place last May and current connections had a peep at hurdling. He ran perfectly well in a four horse race first time (second to now 137-rated Serosevsky) but pulled up next and has been off for eight months. He has a chance if fit enough.

STORY OF FRIENDS (David Pipe), 11-0, tongue tie

Another former Irish pointer, he trod a more familiar path, schooling round on debut and winning at the second attempt – although he was not especially fancied in the betting to pull the trick off. Runner-up Inthefrontfoot has won a bumper and a hurdle in recent months. He has contested three bumpers in Britain, giving it a decent effort here and then getting a second and a win at Exeter. The theme was that as the going got drier, the finishing position improved. The tools are there to make it over hurdles.

GOTALOTON (David Brace), 10-9

He has two British pointing runs to his name. The first was a fourth of seven, in which he was last to finish, over 2m 4f at Pyle. Since then he has unseated at Cothelstone, but the Racing Post website is choosing to keep the details secret – the only way of knowing the location is that it was the only point-to-point last Wednesday. Switching to hurdles does suggest that he has been finding pointing all a bit much as a mere four year old, but like Espressino earlier, surely a bumper would have been more tempting – maybe there just is not one around.

OVERFLOW (Dan Skelton), 10-9, tongue tie

His racing debut was less than six weeks ago, losing a bumper by six lengths in a blanket finish. It was not an informative race as the two who had looked best up to then were ground-based non-runners and the race was run at an extremely cautious pace. For educational purposes he has squeezed in a hurdles debut since, finishing fourth of thirteen, but beaten nineteen lengths. That was a two miler and he certainly ran as if this slightly longer distance would get a thumbs up. It remains to be seen whether the physical what now is there.

YCCS PORTOCERVO (Richard Newland), 10-9

This will be his first run in Britain and his French career is not the easiest to assess. Starting off in a Listed race at Auteuil showed some optimism and UK-Jumping, coincidentally present, noted that his midfield thirteen lengths loss could have been much better but for a bad error at the final hurdle. Next stop was a poor show at Compiegne, after which he ran OK at Vichy and Le Touquet, the latter being a pleasant enough track but not one from which the defeated go on to mighty things. He has been off for eight months and with that Auteuil race in mind, should not be ignored if fit enough.
EIRIK BLOODAXE'S DAILY RACING PREVIEW
The Plan is to pick a race each day and give it a fairly detailed preview - hopefully picking up a worthwhile punt, but not scrabbling around for one. In reality, the "every jumps day" might prove impractical. For instance, you have been to Plumpton, had a couple of pints, get the train back, go to the pub. There might well be time to go through a race and publish, but no-one wants the unintelligible guff. So The Plan and The Harsh Reality may not always coincide.

The verdict is simple for each horse: The more Axes the better, but lay, or at least avoid, the Stalins. Keep a wary eye on the Mysterons
In order to handle changeable ground, a preference table has been added - the key is:
Y+ = Strong preference      Y = OK      Y? = Probably OK      ?Y = Maybe OK      ? = insufficient evidence
?x = Maybe a problem      x? = probably a problem      x = definite problem      blank = no evidence to judge
Preferences
22nd May, Warwick 2.20, William Eborall Maiden Hurdle (class 5)

Course: Left-handed, easy, ujndulating

Distance: 2 miles 3 furlongs
 
Going: Good

Stables in strong form: none

Stables out of form: none

Claiming Jockey Watch: Connor Brace (Gotaloton) claims 5 lb, 26/213
THE BLOODAXE VERDICT
HorseGoing DistanceCourse Comments
HeavySoftGd-SoftGoodGd-Firm2m 3fLHEasyUndul
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DontcounturchikensY??Y??YYY
EspressinoRules debut
Montana Grey?Hurdles debut
Spicy FruityYYY?YYYY?Y
Story Of FriendsY?YY?YYYHurdles debut
GotalotonRules debut
OverflowY??YYYno run beyond 2m
Yccs Portocervo?Y?Y??UK debut, no run beyond 2m 1.5f
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STORY OF FRIENDS
SPICY FRIUTY,  OVERFLOW
none
MONTANA GREY,  YCCS PORTOCERVO
Points of Order
Story Of Friends gets the nod, but with his lack of hurdles experience and addition of a tongue tie last time, we can all see angles where the tale could unravel. The minimum price is 3/1. Anyone on course and comfy with his readiness could take a shot with Yccs Portocervo, although each-way is probably the better target.
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