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Blinkered view could make Flighty mighty.

Byline: RICHARD BIRCH

AYR'S abandonment early yesterday morning came as a huge disappointment, with seven horses who figure on my 'follow list' among the five-day declarations.

I was praying the Scottish track would get the go-ahead to stage this afternoon's only scheduled jumps meeting, having tipped a runner on the all-weather with strong turf form credentials in last Tuesday's column, only to watch open-mouthed as it drifted from an overnight 4.8 on Betfair to 15.5 at lunchtime.

Virnon, the horse in question, finished a tailed-off last at an SP of 10-1 and, with no explanation given on the 'stewards reports' section of the BHA website, I can only conclude he hated his first public experience of racing on Polytrack.

Given my punting history over the last 20 years, I would always prefer to bet or tip on the outcome of events on barely raceable turf - the sort of surface we've seen in recent days at Chepstow, Towcester and Exeter - but there is no choice but to get involved with the sand action today with Wolverhampton and Kempton the two surviving fixtures.

I am keen to keep things very simple and all three selections have no questions to answer in terms of acting on the type of surface they will encounter.

Flighty Filia, my nap in Kempton's 2m racinguk.com/anywhere Handicap (2.00), already possesses excellent course-and-distance form and a mere reproduction of her neck second to the highly progressive Duchess Of Marmite two outings ago ought to be good enough.

That winner, who was rated 65 at the time, now boasts an official mark of 81 after two subsequent victories plus a running-on second, and both she and Flighty Filia managed to pull impressively clear of the third, Grey's Angel, in a sustained duel through the final two furlongs.

The grey daughter of Raven's Pass was conceding 13lb and upwards to all four rivals when beaten a head at odds-on by Grand Facile next time out at Lingfield, but that form has also been franked by third-placed Coorg's eight-length Chelmsford romp last Wednesday.

In receipt of weight from all bar two of her eight opponents this time and likely to be sharpened up by the application of first-time blinkers, Flighty Filia should prove devilishly difficult to beat.

Believe It, who joined Richard Hannon after being bought for 170,000gns at Tattersalls in October 2013, has graduated to handicaps off a basement mark and very much takes the eye off bottomweight in the Ladbrokes Apprentice Handicap (12.45) at Wolverhampton.

Now with Richard Hughes, the four-year-old opened his account over course and distance 20 days ago with a head victory over Caledonia Laird.

Having sat just off the gallop in the early stages, Believe It always looked likely to win in the home straight and probably had a bit more up his sleeve than the winning margin suggests.

When Chris Kelly's 7lb claim is taken into consideration, the colt is effectively competing off a 4lb lower mark and a follow-up looks on the cards.

After only four career starts there is surely further improvement to come from the 57-rated Believe It, who can get the better of triple course scorer Bogsnog.

Tijuca, a bang-in-form mare, is likely to prove very popular in the Bet In Play At Coral Handicap (3.25), but the seven-year-old's tendency to start slowly is cause for concern.

Last Monday's neck defeat by Rockwood - even allowing for a trademark tardy exit - suggests she has little, if anything, in hand of her current mark of 60 and I doubt she will be able to give a start and beating to progressive dual course winner Roman De Brut.

The Rock Of Gibraltar gelding won a handicap in this grade at Wolverhampton in very fluent fashion on December 26, crossing the line with seemingly plenty of petrol still in the tank.

I loved the way he strode out in the final two furlongs when shaken up by Tom Eaves and he clearly loves his racing.

That was the first time Eaves had ridden the four-year-old and he is in the saddle once more. A 6lb rise is very fair and, from a good draw in stall four, Roman De Brut can continue his improvement by recording a third win from his last four starts.

CAPTION(S):

Shannak (Danny Mullins) on his way to winning the 2m4f handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday. Talk of the Tracks, page 14

CAROLINE NORRIS ?RACINGPOST.COM/PHOTOS?
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2016
Words:745
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