Teaplanter looks at two races at Taunton on Wednesday and he likes the chances of Petite Power and Join Together.
Taunton 1:10 - Petite Power
This is an interesting maiden hurdle with the market headed by the Harry Fry trained and with some horses in here such as De Bene Esse who are surely better than they have shown so far under rules. In addition ChurchtownChamp never got a chance to show what he could do for Dan Skelton last time at Leicester, when he fell early on. However the horse that really makes appeal under the conditions is the Ali Stronge trained Petite Power.
Petite Power was an impressive winner of his only point to point at Cothelstone in March of last year, when he stayed on very strongly to win going away. This suggested that stamina was very much his strong suit and it was no surprise to see him struggle in his two bumper runs at Aintree and Worcester, even though he still shaped with credit.
He was much better on his hurdling debut, when he was stepped up in trip to 2.5 miles and finished second to Handsome Sam at Leicester. The increased emphasis on stamina suited him very well and he stayed on strongly in the closing stages to be beaten under 2 lengths at 33/1, with a further gap back to the highly touted Abbreviate.
Petite Power looks a strong stayer and the further he goes up in trip the better. Taunton might be a sharp track, but this further step up in trip to just under 3 miles is certainly in his favour and the testing ground will not present any problems. We would expect him to take a lot of beating in this contest.
2 points win Petite Power at 11/4 with Betfred, Bet365 and Boylesports
Taunton 3;40 - Join Together
Join Together was a very useful handicap chaser for Paul Nicholls when he contested the National and ran with great credit in some other big races, taking the scalps of the likes of Teaforthree and Mossley around Cheltenham. He was rated 157 at his peak for his former trainer, but was transferred to the point to point scene after his last run for Nicholls in December 2013.
After the switch, he ran up a sequence of 6 wins in points before the end of the 2013-14 season under Megan Nicholls and importantly, they included impressive wins going right handed at Tabley and Upcott Cross.
He was off for a long time before reappearing last month at Larkhill and he ran a blinder on his return when he was 2nd to No Loose Change, another former Nicholls horse, at Larkhill. The winner poached a nice lead down the back, but Join Together emerged from the remainder of the field to chase him down and managed to get within about 4 lengths at the line. The winner has disappointed since, but something may have been amiss and Join Together looks set to make his mark in hunter chases now and has a solid chance here.
Pealysteps is now 13, but he has very strong hunter chase form, such as when 4th to Paint the Clouds in the Horse and Hound Cup at Stratford in May 2014 and 3rd in the Champion Hunter Chase in May of last year to On The Fringe. However he is getting on now, lacks a recent run and has to give weight away all round, including 8lb to our selection, before the jockey's claims are considered.
Chance Du Roy is a formerly very useful staying chaser for Philip Hobbs and might have a future in this sphere, but this is his first outing of the season and although he has won on his first start of the year in the past, that was with Hobbs and it might be a bit of an ask to win first time this time, so we will side with Join Together at the prices.
1.5 points win Join Together at 11/4 with Boylesports