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Trading Post: Barton can exploit markover shorter; well-in Barton Nic 2.00 Plumpton.

SUPPORTERSof Strong Flow on Saturday might agree that the cases for chasers well handicapped on their hurdles form, or vice versa, can often read exceedingly well in theory but fail to work out quite so neatly in practice.

Strong Flow also had his wellbeing to prove on a return from injury, but the Sky Bet Press Red To Play Roulette Handicap Chase (2.00) at Plumpton features a similar scenario, involving a horse whose efforts already this season suggest that he has never been better.

Barton Nic is the horse in question, a 12-year-old now but an improver in each of his three campaigns under R ules for up-and-coming trainer Paul Keane, whose chasers this season have a strike-rate of 30 per cent.

Barton Nic has been switched in the opposite direction to Strong Flow, into handicap chases from handicap hurdles, having won over the smaller obstacles at Sandown in November. The difference between Barton Nic's two official ratings is even greater than that which Strong Flow attempted to exploit at Warwick, as his hurdles mark is 125 and he appears today off a chase rating of 83.

This argument has been made for him before, of course, only for Barton Nic to be beaten off the same mark on his last two attempts over fences.

There is a good reason why the outcome will be different this time, however, as both of those races - in April 2004 and earlier this month - were at around two and a half miles, whereas this Plumpton contest is over two miles and a furlong.

As a hurdler, Barton Nic won over three miles in 2002 and two and a half miles in 2003, but his performances since at around the minimum trip are well in advance of those victories. The Sandown win was just the latest example.

Nick Fox's nap

Figaro du Rocher

2.25 Doncaster
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2005
Previous Article:Trading Post: Lay of Darkness can brighten up the day; plays of the day.
Next Article:View from the training centres: West Country.

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