Timeform Radio Tips: Flashman for Hexham sextet

Rory Delargy heads to Hexham for his best bets.

Rory Delargy fancies a course specialist to roll back the years at Hexham...

"The outing will have done Harry Flashman the power of good, and had this race been run a year ago, he'd not be much bigger than Evens..."

Mondays were never meant to be easy, particularly for the nine-to-fivers, but Flat racing has a habit of throwing up fiendishly difficult cards at the beginning of each week, as typified by the fare put on at Windsor, where the city boys guzzling champagne probably lose less money that the stay-at-home punters. For my sins, I've had the job of compiling the card at Windsor this evening, but that hasn't caused any winners to jump off the page.

It's to lowly Hexham I'll go for my best bet, where it's worth taking a chance on the well-being of Harry Flashman in the hunter chase at 17:00. The 12-year-old has an excellent record at the track, winning five times from 9 completed starts for Donald Whillans, the latest on a lively surface in May. A repeat of that handicap win will definitely be enough to dispose of the vast majority of today's rivals, although he did finish lame there on his final start for the yard.

Now in the care of Greg Aitken, the chestnut gelding made what appears an inauspicious debut in the pointing field recently, pulling up in a race won by Buckstruther at Morpeth, but there were valid excuses, given that was his comeback on unsuitable terrain, and he shaped as if retaining ability. The outing will have done him the power of good, and had this race been run a year ago, he'd not be much bigger than Evens. It seems to me that layers are taking a huge chance with him at 9.08/1 this morning, and while there is an element of risk in backing him, the upside of his current price is compelling.

Palos Conti is a worthy favourite, having bolted up on his return from a lengthy absence at Sedgefield last time, and I'm in no hurry to lay Alison Christmas' gelding after he landed a plunge there, but he would be receiving nearly a stone from the selection if this were a handicap, and he's as short as is form entitles him to be. The only other runner who looks worth considering to me is the ex-Chris Grant runner Ngong Hills, who has enjoyed a new lease of life in points of late. Perhaps the best way of insuring against a flop from Harry Flashman is to have that pair in a modest reverse forecast.

In the preceding contest at 16:30, it's very hard to oppose Lady of Verona in a pretty dire mares maiden hurdle. Lucinda Russell's charge is no superstar, but the only reason she's failed to win so far is simply that she's lacked a change of gear against superior rivals. This is by far her best chance to get her head in front to date, and the opposition look very poor on the whole. The possible exceptions are Valsesia and Hidden Horizons, but the former has been off for a long time since showing her only solid piece of form (reads well now, but she may have been flattered by the run of things), while Hidden Horizons has shown nothing on her last 2 starts, albeit at the minimum trip. She'll do much better dropped to this level and up to a stiff 3m, but looks nowhere near as solid as Lady of Verona, who really shouldn't be troubled to win.    

Both at Hexham
Back Harry Flashman @ 8.415/2 in the 17:00 (NAP)
Back Lady of Verona @ 2.506/4 in the 16:30 (NB)

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