Just in time, after an unfortunate week, comes a dubious regional “National”. These parochial mud-slogs have fuelled our Winter campaign with a succession of good priced winners – we’re certainly putting that to the test today.
The Devon National at Exeter has been around a lot longer than many, and is a proper test of stamina on this beautiful but demanding track that has one of the larger ovals in racing.
Thomas Patrick is a progressive young stayer and the obvious market leader. He has wining form here over hurdles, but one chase is perilously few for a test like this, and this massive marathon trip will be an unknown.
We had success with Cresswell Breeze in the Southern National, she’d have chances here although jockey bookings suggest stablemate Act Now may have the edge after a decent second last time.
Emperor’s Choice is always to be feared in a muddy marathon, but this former Welsh National winner is in veteran stage and comes off the back of a crunching fall.
This looks like a race that could spring a surprise with Dawson City and Yanmare both looking lively outsiders. Both love an extreme trip, but Dawson City rather sulked when running here two outings ago and that has to be a repeat risk.
Instead we will hope Jamie Bargary has a good night’s sleep as Yanmare is a nightmare, but capable of something special. Last time at Warwick, the rhythm of the race had him quickly in trouble, but that course can do that. The time before, here at Exeter, he again looked in trouble before staying on from an impossible position to prevail near the line.
Jamie will know not to give up, he’ll also know there will be a time when it will feel like he should – keep kicking Jamie, Yanmare does his best work after 3 miles, and if he can just stay in the race, he could do some damage up the long uphill straight where so many other will cry “enough”.
Recommendation: Yanmare, (1650 Exeter), 1pt win, 8/1 generally available
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