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Racing: RACING POST RATINGS - Bumper ace Arctic Moss primed to make her mark over hurdles; View from the training centres Well-drawn A Teen poised to end his long losing run for in-form Howling team.

Byline: Steve Mason

CATTERICK'S Racing Post -The Horses Mouth Handicap Hurdle (3.30) is long on quantity but short on quality and is unlikely to take a great deal of winning.

Most of the runners are exposed as modest performers and, while she is clearly nothing out of the ordinary, the mare Arctic Moss does at least have the potential to rate a fair bit higher than her current official mark of 86.

A winner of a bumper for Alan Swinbank on her Musselburgh debut in February 2004, she went on to win two similar events for Edwin Tuer at Sedgefield and again back at Musselburgh the following year. While many form students remain wary of the value of the form of these typically slowly run races, I have been keeping bumper ratings since 1994 and have been surprised by how useful a guide they provide when a horse goes hurdling.

Obviously, as with horses from the Flat, it can often take time for an individual to reproduce that level of bumper form over hurdles and this was certainly the case with Arctic Moss, who cut little ice on her first couple of hurdles starts. However, she turned in a much better effort when chasing home Top Brass back at Musselburgh last month and the winner has since finished a fair third in a Newbury handicap.

That run was worth a RPR of 88, which puts her bang there on the figures today. However, all three of her bumper wins, while nothing special, were worth figures in the 90s and the best of them merited a RPR of 99. It is not unreasonable to expect her to go on to match that level of form over hurdles and she is potentially nicely in on her handicap debut.

Her bumper form suggests she is equally at home on ground ranging from soft to good to firm and she should hopefully prove immune to any going changes.

Top-weight Merryvale Man must be the busiest jumper in training, but has been in a bit of form of late and is competitive off his current mark. He could again figure prominently, although he has now failed to get round in three of his last seven starts.

Moyne Pleasure, a winner of a seller at Sedgefield in January, and Leadaway, a fair fourth over course and distance in a similar race last time, look best of the remainder.

Today's bets

Arctic Moss

3.30 Catterick

Nap

Beau Torero

2.00 Catterick

Same again

Made light of a lengthy absence when beating the consistent The Castilian and subsequent dual winner Sunley Future at Fakenham in January. Has been given a decent break to recover from those exertions and a repeat of that level of performance should suffice in this company.

Hibernian

2.20 Fontwell

Conditions to suit

Looks a tight race on paper but the Oliver Sherwood-trained gelding showed his best form when fourth behind the useful The Cool Guy in soft ground over today's trip at Haydock and seemed to find things all happening a bit quickly over a shorter trip on better ground at Bangor last time.

North Tom O'Ryan

Industrial Star (3.00 Catterick, nap)

Made a pleasing return to action when outgunning Balyan over this course and distance in January and is well regarded. Considered capable of taking another step up the hurdling ladder here.

Misleain (4.30 Catterick)

Created a good first impression when a close-up third on her debut at Musselburgh last month. That experience should stand her in good stead and is expected to run a big race.

Ariesanne (4.40 Southwell)

Taken off her legs before staying on stoutly to chase home Christian Bendix over six furlongs last time, and is expected to relish this extra furlong. Fancied to resume winning ways.

Others to follow

Catterick: 2.00 Armentieres, 2.30 Wee William, 4.00 Brave Rebellion.

Southwell: 2.10 Suhezy, 3.40 Tommytyler.

West Country Andrew King

Kilty Storm

(3.50 Fontwell, nap)

Expertly switched back to novice company, where he carries only one penalty and is expected to score again.

Milan Deux Mille (2.20 Fontwell)

Unluckily got rid of his rider on hurdles debut, but this bumper winner can make amends here.

Ebony Jack (3.20 Fontwell) Takes his racing pretty well and his liking for this figure-of-eight circuit can help him get back in the winning groove.

Others to follow

Fontwell: 2.50 Its A Cracker, 4.20 Message Recu, 5.20 Lappeenranta.

Lambourn Rodney Masters

Trigger The Light (5.20 Fontwell, nap)

From a stable with a good line on bumper form, this half-brother to Sea The Light is ready to build on a satisfactory debut when a staying-on third over a similar trip at Plumpton. Blessed with the right attitude and the type to progress.

Hibernian (2.20 Fontwell)

Found wanting for pace when dropped in distance last time, and a revival anticipated over this more suitable trip. Should have the measure of this opposition.

Kandjar d'Allier

(3.50 Fontwell)

A 136-rated chaser who has lost his way since a poor run on ground faster than ideal in the Hennessy. A switch to hurdles may induce a return to form.

Newmarket Tony Elves

A Teen

(2.10 Southwell, nap)

On a long losing run, but nothing wrong with his latest effort when short-headed by Straffan over course and distance ten days ago. Looks well drawn on his return and Paul Howling's team remain in great form.

Hits Only Life (4.10 Southwell)

Has shown a modicum of ability in better company than this and the drop in class could work the oracle for the Jeff Pearce-trained gelding.

Other to follow

Southwell: 3.10 High.

CAPTION(S):

Beau Torero: form of his reappearance win at Fakenham has been franked and he is fancied to follow up at Catterick
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2006
Words:975
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