Rhys Williams was on the mark with a 7/1 winner yesterday and has a bumper Friday of eight selections.
"Extrodinair has looked at his best when able to make the running and I think he should be able to do that without too much pressure tonight and the combination of that and the quick ground gives him the ideal opportunity to show if he can be better on turf that he’s shown so far."
Return to better ground on handicap debut
After getting no further than the first on the first two starts of her career in a point and a maiden hurdle, Bavarian Girl showed some ability in bumpers for Richard O'Brien.
She shaped well at Roscommon when held up and still in tenth leaving the back straight before making a big move which took her into a close second going through the wings of 2 out. The effort of making such a move took its toll late on as she couldn't go with Beret Rouge but she held off the rest of the field to finish second.
The step up 2m4f and the yielding ground on her next two starts probably weren't ideal for Bavarian Girl but she still ran respectably before a good run on her final start in a bumper behind Robinnia, who has gone on to be rated 118 over hurdles, at Sligo.
All of Bavarian Girl's four starts over hurdles have come on ground ranging from yielding to soft to heavy and I think that ground wouldn't bring out the best in her so, as a result, it's unlikely that her true ability was shown.
I think she will appreciate the return to good ground and her runs in bumpers suggest that she has more ability than her opening mark over hurdles of 94.
There is a concern that she can race keenly and there's not a lot of confirmed pace in this race but they tend to go at least a fair pace around this track so hopefully that won't be an issue and she will settle fine. Any 8/1 or bigger appeals.
Strong-traveller shaped well on return
Shawshank was a curiously campaigned horse in 2018 and 19 but he showed that he had a good level of ability. Having won two Irish points, he shaped well on rules debut in a strong beginners chase at Punchestown, travelling well for a long way before weakening late on. The other four finishers all ended up with ratings of 139+ over fences.
They dropped him back to 2m1f and 2m for his next two starts and that proved too sharp for him before then switching to race over hurdles early in the 2019/20 season.
He was very unlucky to not win on hurdles debut at Wexford but got off the mark at the same track with ease on his next start.
However, it then went wrong for Shawshank as he was reported to have a wind problem on his next start and then pulled up lame when 5/4 favourite for a handicap chase.
He was off the track for 691 days before returning at Wexford last month and he shaped very well. Wearing a tongue tie for the first time, he raced keenly for the first circuit behind runaway leader Rudy Catrail and almost got rid of his jockey when pitching on landing at the second.
He was left in front going down the back after that rival ran out and he was still travelling well turning the final bend while his rivals were under pressure. However, he ploughed through 2 out and was headed and stopped very quickly on the run in to finish 13½ lengths behind the winner in fourth.
The manner in which Shawshank travelled through the race suggests that he still retains plenty of ability and that a drop back in trip to 2m4f today could suit.
There is a concern that he finished very tired and is returning to the track only 30 days later on his second start after a very long absence but hopefully he is over the exertions of that outing.
He may also just be a weak finisher as that's not the first time he's faded rapidly but in the past it may have been his wind causing that and the presence of a tongue tie suggests he could have had a wind op during that long break so hopefully it was a combination of the early keenness, returning from a long break and trying to take 2 out home with him that caused Shawshank to fade late on at Wexford.
I think there's more to come from Shawshank and any 9/2 or bigger appeals in this contest.
Left-handed track could bring improvement
Abraham has never been the most reliable of conveyances but I think he's capable of putting in one of his better efforts on chasing debut after a fairly promising effort last time at Kilbeggan.
He had shown little on his three previous starts over fences in deep ground and against strong company but on his return to good ground in a weaker beginners chase, he ran well for a long way.
He raced just behind the leaders and showed a tendency to jump out to the left for much of the race. He joined Demain des l'Aube in front turning down the back straight for the final time and was just being nudged along going to 3 out where he got in close. He started to lose touch with the leader and came under pressure after that, fading into fourth.
A return to a left-handed track is likely to suit Abraham on that evidence and it's possible that he was in need of the run after 182 days off so that could have been put him spot on for today.
There is a concern that he has been so inconsistent in the past and his two wins over hurdles in 2020 came with cheekpieces on so he may only show his best over fences when those are reapplied but I think he could be better than his rating of 109 and any 14/1 or bigger appeals.
Better than the result in last two runs
Spirit Of The Bay was initially set to be a strong bet before the overnight and early morning markets took a hammer to her price. However, despite that, I still think she's overpriced given how much more potential she has for improvement than most of this field.
After showing some ability on her first two starts, she ran in a valuable nursery at Newmarket on her final start of last season over seven furlongs.
She raced handily from the off and was still going well with three furlongs to go but she was all over the place going down into the dip and lost her position. She get battling away and picked up again once meeting rising ground but the damage had been done and she finished seventh.
The winner of that race, Mystery Angel, has gone on to win a Listed race and finish second in the Oaks this season. The fourth, Meu Amor, was second in a Listed race next time and has won a Listed race this season. And the second and third are now rated 10lb and 11lb higher respectively.
Spirit Of The Bay raced off a 5lb lower mark than at Newmarket when making her first start of this season at Lingfield and she had an awful trip.
Drawn in the second widest stall, she was dropped out at the back of the field and got on to the inside rail before leaving the back straight. She couldn't get a run doing down the side of the course and was still in last turning the final bend where she was switched towards the outside to try to get a run. Her path was blocked again early in the straight before she finished strongly to finish sixth.
It was a nightmare trip for Spirit Of The Bay and she had no chance to show her true ability in those circumstances.
There is a slight concern over the ground as she has quite a high knee action but the trainer/jockey combination have two runners earlier on the card so they have the chance to see if the ground is suitable for her and take her out if they have any concerns.
Unlike most of this field, I think Spirit Of The Bay has more to offer and any 7/2 or bigger appeals.
Excuses for recent poor runs
In the same race, Roller might be capable of running better than his big price and latest starts suggest.
He finished seventh on his return to turf at Bath in April but the slow pace was against him and he ended up being a bit keen and wide on the bend which didn't help his chance.
He was well held in fifth next time at Chepstow but the straight track there doesn't suit a lot of horses and he looked uncomfortable, with the soft ground possibly not helping his chance either.
On his most recent outing at Chester, Roller was very awkwardly away from the stalls and lost plenty of ground. He managed to get on to the back of the field but understandably couldn't make any more headway in what was a strong claimer.
He's been dropped 8lb for those three runs where there were obvious excuses and I think this race should be at least evenly run which will help his chance.
Roller is obviously quite tricky to win with as he needs everything to drop right for him and he might repeat his antics from the stalls at Chester but I can't let him go unbacked at a big price as he's got the ability to run well off this mark. Any 16/1 or bigger appeals.
Application of blinkers could spark improvement
There's very little obvious positives to take from most of Crutches Lad's recent outings but I wouldn't be surprised if he bounced back with blinkers on for the first time.
He showed some ability in points and hunter chases in 2019, winning two points and finished third on two starts in hunter chases. In the first of those hunter chases at Downpatrick, he chased home My Oakclahome (given a rating of 99 soon after) and Nabraska (given a rating of 95 after this run). He was once again behind My Oakclahome on his next start when finishing third to Hi Murphy.
His performances in two handicap chases and a maiden hurdle after that were a long way below this level. He was being niggled along from a long way out on handicap debut at Downpatrick and didn't show much interest on his next two starts.
Following a long break, he returned to action back in the pointing field at Dromahane on good ground and ran well behind Thedancingfarrier, who is now rated 98 under rules. The fourth, Kind Witness, has since run well off 87 over fences in Britain.
Crutches Lad didn't show much of any of his last three starts, including back on good ground on his latest start.
He's looked a lazy horse who needs to have his mind focused on the job in hand and I'm hoping that the application of blinkers for the first time will help to sharpen him up. He's shown that he has the ability to be competitive off a mark of 81 on this ground and hopefully they will send him to the front and look to make all, which is never a bad plan at this track.
There is a chance that he just won't take to the headgear and the hustle and bustle of a 14-runner handicap at this track will lead to him sulking so he could run another shocker but if it works, Crutches Lad could cause a big shock and any 20/1 or bigger appeals.
Trainer switch to bring a revival
Sanibel Island is another horse to have moved to Pat Kelly from Stephen Mahon and I think he could be capable of bouncing back to a better level of form as a result of the move.
He reached a peak rating of 127 in his time with Gordon Elliott but it was downhill ever since moving to Mahon. He occasionally showed a little ability, running respectably off marks in the mid-90s in the 2019/20 season and he ran ok on his final start for Mahon at Sligo off 86.
Having raced just behind the leaders for much of the race, he briefly moved into a share of the lead at 3 out but after jumping 2 out he gradually dropped away and was beaten 16½ lengths.
Sanibel Island is quite small and, even if Kelly revives him, there's a chance that he might still struggle over fences or be better suited by a small field. There is, of course, also the chance that he might just not be any good anymore.
However, Champagne Monarch took a big step forward and Forever Frankie bounced back after an awful second run when making the same trainer switch at Cork last week so it wouldn't be a surprise if Sanibel Island did likewise and any 14/1 or bigger appeals.
Chance to take advantage of much lower turf mark
The immediate instinct with Extrodinair is to think that he's just an all weather horse with four victories and four second places from fifteen starts on artificial surfaces while he's been beaten a combined margin of 96 lengths on his four starts on the turf on the flat.
However, I'm not sure there's definitive proof that he's a 17lb worse horse on turf and he could take advantage of that difference this evening.
His flat debut came on turf at Windsor and he was slowly away before racing awkwardly on the bend and he could never get competitive.
His next turf run was on heavy ground at Haydock off 82 and he was beaten 23 lengths, with the trainer saying after that he was unsuited by the surface and would prefer a quicker surface.
Extrodinair was then moved into Listed company three starts later on Doncaster over six furlongs. Unsurprisingly, he found that company far too strong but at least showed enough speed to race in third early on and he stayed in touch before dropping away from 1½ furlongs out.
On his most recent start on turf on soft ground at York, he was ridden by a jockey having only his second ride under rules. Given the trainer's previous comment about the ground at Haydock, it was no surprise that Extrodinair ran poorly and he hadn't been running too well on the all weather in his previous two runs or the following run on that surface.
Since then, he bounced back when making all at Chelmsford off a mark of 82, beating Path Of Thunder who won a handicap at the July Festival by three lengths after that.
Extrodinair has looked at his best when able to make the running and I think he should be able to do that without too much pressure tonight and the combination of that and the quick ground gives him the ideal opportunity to show if he can be better on turf that he's shown so far.
It may turn out that he doesn't go on turf at all and will struggle again but this is the first time he's had a chance to show his true ability on the surface and racing off a 17lb lower mark than his all-weather rating, any 3/1 or bigger appeals.
RHYS' PROFIT/LOSS 2021
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