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Snake Charmer expected to make first three; TODAY'S ACTION.

2.20 Wincanton C4/RUK

Higos Insurance Services Handicap Hurdle (2m6f)

Key stat Helen Lewis has a 50 per cent record (3-6) with handicap hurdlers at Wincanton and relies on National Trust here Although it does not merit the 'winner without a penalty' badge, Royaleety made a successful first appearance for Nicky Henderson in a charity race on the Flat at Kempton, where he was ridden by Simon Sherwood. He has not been the easiest to train, however, and his most recent official win was in 2003. National Trust continued trainer Helen Lewis's fine run when showing the right spirit at Ascot off a 4lb lower mark. Harris Bay, who has a decent strike-rate despite failing to complete on several occasions, is switched to hurdles.

What they say

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Nakai

See column, page 8 Helen Lewis, trainer of National Trust

"He's improving and must have a good chance provided the ground does not become too testing. He was put up 4lb for his win at Ascot last time, but may have improved by that much."

Henrietta Knight, trainer of Harris Bay

"He ran a dismal race over fences at Ascot two weeks ago. He has to go right-handed, so there are only a handful of races he can run in. He is better rated over hurdles than fences. "

Peter Bowen, trainer of Coq Hardi

"He ran a nice race at Aintree first time out for us and should run well again."

Seamus Mullins, trainer of Cold Mountain

"I probably got the tactics wrong last time when he made the running. I thought he'd get a soft lead, but it didn't work out that way. He'll be ridden more conserv atively this time .

He'd have an each-way chance."

Bob Buckler, trainer of Mossville

"I was expecting a big run at Kempton last time but she was very disappointing and was pulled up. No reason came to light, and she has worked well since."

Johnson White, assistant to Philip Hobbs, trainer of Lincoln's Inn

"As the switch to chasing wasn't a success last time, he's now back to hurdling. The blinkers are on to help give him a bit of confidence, and he should travel better with them. He'd have an each-way chance at best."

Milton Harris, trainer of Snake Charmer

"He's a novice taking on seasoned handicappers, but he had plenty of experience on the Flat. He won nicely at Uttoxeter just before Christmas and will appreciate the step up in trip. I'll be disappointed if he's not in the first three."

3.25 Wincanton C4/RUK

Higos Insurance Services Handicap Chase (2m5f)

Key stat Graham Lee has a 31 per cent strike-rate when riding for Richard Guest (pounds 14.58 profit to a pounds 1 level stake) and partners Our Armageddon for him today

Kaldouas was travelling smoothly and set to challenge when falling three out in a conditional jockeys' chase at Cheltenham's Boylesports meeting. He returns off an unchanged handicap mark. Our Armageddon returns after almost two years out. When last seen, he won a pounds 34,000-to-the-winner chase at Uttoxeter. Nacarat is a recent arrival from France, where he won a chase and over hurdles.

What they say

Bob Buckler, trainer of I Hear Thunder

"The ground went against him at Haydock, where he made a mistake at the first and was never travelling. Daryl Jacob thinks he is better suited by these shorter trips. He should run a big race."

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Kaldouas See column, page 8 Nick Mitchell, assistant to Robert Alner, trainer of Mort De Rire "This horse had an operation two seasons ago and it has taken him a long time to recover his form, but the way he ran at Lingfield last time suggests he's on the way back.Wincanton should suit him, and we think he'll go well."

Milton Harris, trainer of Craven

"He was just behind the leaders when slipping and unseating at Cheltenham last time. He's an enigmatic character but he does have a lot of ability and one day he's going to win a race like this when everything drops right."

Tom George, trainer of Nacarat

"He arrived from France six weeks ago, and I've been pleased with his work and schooling. We're still on a learning curve with him, but he did have some useful form in France. He'll appreciate the cut in the ground."

Venetia Williams, trainer of Spring Lover

"He has run decent races at Ludlow on his last two outings and we are taking plenty of weight off him with Aidan Coleman's claim."

Johnson White, assistant to Philip Hobbs, trainer of Snow Patrol

"He was a little disappointing at Huntingdon, running rather lazily, and blinkers will be fitted this time in the hope he'll travel better with them. He has schooled well since."

Andrew Turnell, trainer of Squires Lane

"He is better suited by longer, but as it will be his first run since October 2006 I didn't want to drag him over three miles. A lot of our horses aren't spot-on at the moment, and his blood will be tested before he runs."

Keith Goldsworthy, trainer of Rajam

"I ran him under a penalty at Taunton but that was too soon after the Sandown win, and he was a little flat; he's fresh again now. He's not an extravagant jumper and I believe he'll be suited by Wincanton."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2008
Words:899
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