Fans of sci-fi hokem The Matrix will recall that Keanu Reeves' character Neo was foreseen as "The One", and hopefully Nigel Hawke's Master Neo can prove the one for punters in the 14:45 at Ffos Las today. Master Neo already has a verdict over 2 of today's rivals, finishing well ahead of Volador when the pair made their respective debuts at Worcester in October. That came in a beginners' chase, and Volador is forced to run off his old hurdles mark (the BHA's new novice chase reform was introduced purely to increase field sizes in novice chases and not for the handicappers to see further evidence upon which to assess horses), which gives him little chance from a logical handicap perspective.
The son of Turgeon finished well clear of Benheir at Newbury last time when neither shone in a competitive novices' handicap, and meets that rival on the same terms today. A return to further on heavy ground will suit Master Neo, who impressed when winning in similar conditions at Uttoxeter. A change of tactics didn't help last time, and he should be handy from the outset today. Incentivise comes here seeking a hat-trick, but has crept up in the weights, and his purple patch looks set to end, especially with the less exposed Kaybeew reopposing on significantly better terms having finished a promising third to Richard Lee's charge at Fontwell last time. Kaybeew faltered late on there, either as a result of his stamina ebbing away, or due to a lack of race fitness. Either way, he should do better now, and is worthy of plenty of respect.
Daryl Jacob made headlines when dropping his hands on Ulis de Vassy earlier this month, and his appeal against a 10-day ban was recently rejected. Many will view the pair as banker material when lining up in the 15:15 at Ffos Las, a race which looks weaker than the Wincanton event. He should certainly go very well, but it's worth pointing out that he's taken a 6-lb rise in the weights for that defeat, and isn't the handicap blot he might appear to some, especially with a slight worry about whether the blinkers he wore last time will be as much help a second time.
Few of his rivals can be fancied on recent efforts, but a couple who appeal as capable of bouncing back are Scorched Son and Captain Paulie. The former was runner-up in this last year, and probably needed the outing when well held at Sandown on his only start since; that will have put an edge on him, and he looks a player, but it's Captain Paulie who makes more appeal. A winner of a 2m Cork handicap hurdle in April last year for Colm Murphy, he's failed to fully convince over fences for either Patrick Holmes, or in a couple of spins since joining Evan Williams. That said, he didn't shape at all badly at Chepstow last month, and can bounce back now reverting to the minimum trip over timber.
Back Master Neo in the 14:45 Ffos Las @ 7.06/1 (NAP)
Back Captain Paulie in the 15:15 Ffos Las @ 6.25/1 (NB)
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