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Barrakilla begging to be backed at 11-2.

Today's bets Barrakilla 2.00 Cheltenham 1pt win at 11-2 generally Brother Brian 3.45 Cheltenham 1pt win at 14-1 with Ladbrokes (12-1 with Betfair and Coral) Straight Girl 6.40am tomorrow Sha Tin 1pt win at 25-1 with Ladbrokes (20-1 generally) World Ace 7.50am tomorrow Sha Tin 1pt win at 25-1 with Hills and Ladbrokes CAID DU BERLAIS must have a good shot at backing up his Paddy Power win in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (2.00) at Cheltenham. The handicapper must have been in a good mood when he put him up just 5lb for winning last time and, given the race didn't go his way, he is more than capable of winning off his revised mark.

However, in a way the soft ground last time played into Caid Du Berlais' hands as most of the runners started racing too far out and as a result the only horses finishing to effect were those who had never been put into the heat of battle.

Maybe the same will happen again and there is every chance Caid Du Berlais will have improved for that run, but he is not the slickest of jumpers and I can see him getting knocked out of his rhythm if No Buts and Easter Meteor put the pressure on early.

No Buts has a good chance after his really impressive win at Newbury last time as he went off fast that day and never came back. I certainly wouldn't put anyone off No Buts, but on Sandown running he isn't going to beat Barrakilla and at 11-2 Evan Williams' horse is the bet.

Barrakilla was backed into favouritism at Sandown and ran really well in third despite appearing to be in need of the run in a race that has worked out well. Williams has targeted him at this contest since and he has a good line into the form given how well his Buywise ran in the Paddy Power, despite smashing into half of the fences.

If Barrakilla can get into a rhythm early on he looks the one horse in the race who might have 10lb or so in hand.

The New One might not find it easy to give 8lb to Vaniteux but the International Hurdle is basically a match. In contrast those at the head of the market in the Relkeel Hurdle (3.45) are susceptible to an improver and Brother Brian is a sporting bet at 14-1. He clearly has to improve but every time he runs he progresses and he also stays really well. Rock On Ruby is not getting any younger and Lac Fontana has a penalty to overcome, so Volnay De Thaix might end up being Brother Brian's biggest danger.

In Hong Kong tomorrow morning it might be worth getting up to back a couple of Japanese runners in the big races at Sha Tin.

I firmly believe Japanese racing is on the way up and in the Longines Hong Kong Mile (7.50) World Ace is begging to be backed at a massive price. But for a few problems he would have been a star by now.

World Ace hasn't had life easy and has had stalls issues, but he is reportedly in great shape and he might have won the Mile Championship at Kyoto last time but for blowing the start.

Able Friend will be hard to beat but there is no way World Ace is a 25-1 shot.

The Longines Hong Kong Sprint (6.40) tends to go to a finisher up the middle of the track and the horse tailor-made for the race appears to be the mare Straight Girl. She was unlucky not to beat the boys in the Sprinters Stakes in Japan last time and has been kept fresh for this.

Her workouts have had the clock-watchers rubbing their eyes in disbelief and I would much rather back her than either of the Irish superstars who have been on the go all season.

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Brother Brian: progressive sort who stays well
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2014
Words:674
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