Showed ability in bumpers and ground to suit
Exeter 13:55: Karlie 1.5pt win 9/4
Puffin Bay heads the market for this mares' maiden hurdle following her victory in a bumper at Stratford but I'm not sure that form entitles her to be so short considering Karlie ran to a better level in bumpers.
Karlie was ridden for a turn of foot in both her runs in Irish points and while she could never get competitive on debut, she won on her second start in quite comfortable fashion.
Subsequently bought for £42,000 she got off the mark on rules debut in a bumper at Taunton. She raced quite keenly under restraint in midfield in a steadily-run race before making headway wide on the final bend. She cruised into contention and once shaken up soon put the race to bed despite edging right.
Karlie very much showed a quick ground action that day so I think she did well to finish fifth in a Listed bumper at Huntingdon on her next start. She was held up out wide at the back of the field before starting to creep closer going down the back straight. She still looked to be travelling well turning the final bend in sixth but once coming under pressure soon after, she couldn't go with the front pair and finished 18½ lengths behind the winner.
Karlie's final run of last season was a disappointing one on the all-weather at Newcastle when she was poorly positioned out wide towards the back of the field and she couldn't get anywhere near the leaders at any stage.
She's since had a wind op so it may be there was an issue which caused that below par display at Newcastle and if she shows the ability that she did at Taunton or Huntingdon then I think she might be a notch above her rivals today.
It is a bit concerning that she ran so poorly last time and there's the unknown over how she will take to hurdles although having jumped fences in points it would be hoped that she will be fine on that front. I think she should be favourite in this race as she's shown the most ability and any 15/8 or bigger appeals.
Return to softer ground will suit
Worcester 15:23: Shaw's Cross 0.5pt win 25/1
Shaw's Cross was a selection in this column when he fell at the second at Warwick two starts ago having been sent off at 9/2. While he has been well beaten since, I think there was a clear reason for that and he could be capable of bouncing back today.
His most recent run came at Worcester over two miles on good ground and he didn't appear to be travelling with his usual zest at any stage. It may be there was a lasting impact of the fall only eight days earlier but I think he certainly didn't like the ground as his best form has come on soft ground.
Shaw's Cross was dropped 6lb for his defeat last time and that seems overly generous to me as his run at Warwick three starts ago suggested that he still had ability having shaped much better than the 21-length defeat suggests.
The trip is a concern as I think he ideally wants a well-run two miles rather than 2m4f but I can't let him go unbacked at a big price and any 25/1 or bigger appeals.
No issue with bottomless ground
Ayr 16:55: Taxmeifyoucan 1pt win 25/1
They will likely be needing flippers and a snorkel by the time of the last race at Ayr today with heavy rain forecast throughout the day and such conditions, along with the reapplication of headgear, could spark a revival from a horse who has been woefully out of form of late.
Taxmeifyoucan reached a peak rating of 89 as a three-year-old after a win on heavy ground at Haydock and he's run to a good level of hurdles since then while being a bit inconsistent.
He's worn headgear for much of his career but that has been left off on his three runs on the flat this season and he's been beaten a combined total of 80 lengths in those three starts while showing little interest in racing.
As a result of those performances, Taxmeifyoucan has been dropped 15lb which now makes him eligible for a double class drop into a class 6 for the first time in his career.
The market currently has him priced up as though he's lost all ability and will continue on a downward spiral but a visor goes back on today and I think that could cause a revival from him having worn a visor to three victories as a three-year-old and he ran well in a hurdle at Kelso when last wearing a visor.
It may turn out that he's just not the horse he was and will run badly again but I think his current price underestimates the possibility of a return to form under these circumstances and any 16/1 or bigger appeals.