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Dark Horses 11th March

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2:30 Newcastle – Ring Pretender

At the time of writing Stuart Coltherd has his yard in superb form, with a 100% strike rate in the last 14-days (3-3) and he looks to have found a good opportunity for RING PRETENDER to extend that run. A daughter of Great Pretender, she made her debut in an Ayr bumper in January this year, finishing 4th behind subsequent Fairyhouse winner Burn the Evidence (Gordon Elliott). Having made the running, she wasn’t able to quicken on the Heavy ground and was outpaced into 4th place in the closing stages. The better ground at Newcastle should be much more suitable and given the way that she travelled through the race at Ayr, there is every chance she will give a better account of herself on a sounder surface. She is a half-sister to a French hurdle winner and comes from a family that includes several winners over 7f on the flat, so there is hope in her pedigree that a flat track on spring ground could be her ideal conditions. In a race that lacks any significant depth, she is a lively each-way chance if taking to hurdling.

1:15 Exeter – Valsheda

Considering the Cheltenham festival is just 4-days away, there is a very decent card at Exeter on Friday and one of the standout horses to watch looks to be Nicky Henderson’s VALSHEDA. He won over hurdles at this meeting 12-months ago and although he fell on his debut over fences, he put in a much better display at Kempton last month on his 2nd start. He was well backed for that Kempton run where he found only Killer Kane too strong, but the pair of them had pulled clear of the rest in the closing stages. This more galloping track should suit him better, as he proved when winning his Novice hurdle 12-months ago and as he is Nico de Boinville’s only ride on the card, he will hopefully make the trip worthwhile.

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