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Chris Dixon's Sunday selections: The Gipper rates value punt

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Sun 4 Feb 2018

By Chris Dixon

The second day of both the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown and Musselburgh now well-established Cheltenham Festival Trials weekend means there is some high quality action taking place on Sunday while a competitive card at Taunton offers lots of interest and means there’s plenty to look forward to.

I was always told it was important to be able to forgive and forget so it’s a lesson I’ve taken forward into my betting over the years and one which is especially apparent today as three of today’s four selections need to bounce back from poor runs last time. Let’s hope I’m feeling quite so positive by 4pm!

1.40 Taunton: Bradford Bridge at a general 8-1

Although he ran well at Chepstow on his penultimate start, Bradford Bridge has never really seemed to enjoy chasing and I’m hoping that a return to smaller obstacles can spark a revival in Philip Hobbs’ charge.

He’s never looked the quickest and is bred to stay well so there could be some improvement in him as he tackles the longest trip of his career so far on ground that will be fairly hard work.

The best of his hurdles form suggests he’s on a decent mark and although both runs at this track have been disappointing, at 8/1 in an open race I’m happy to take a chance on him.

2.15 Taunton The Gipper at a general 6-1

Vocaliser is a short-priced favourite for this race having really progressed for his in-form yard since going over fences, however, at the prices The Gipper makes more appeal.

The Evan Williams trained eight-year-old has four lengths to find with the favourite on his latest form over 2m here but has a small pull at the weights today and more importantly for me, looks like he’ll be well suited by the two-furlong step up in trip given the way he shaped last time.

[(full)Watch Replay] ()

Well handicapped based on his hurdles form, he put in his best round of jumping so far over fences here last time and if able to build on that encouragement has a better chance than his odds of 6-1 suggest.

3.35 Leopardstown: Our Duke at a general 100-30

Supasundae’s win in the Irish Champion Hurdle ensured it was a good opening day of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown for Jessica Harrington and the stable can hopefully now enjoy a super Sunday courtesy of Irish Gold Cup hope Our Duke.

A progressive novice chaser last year, Our Duke boats strong form with performances such as his defeat of proven Grade 1 performers Coney Island and Disko over this course and distance at the top level and wide margin win in the Irish Grand National marking him down as force to be reckoned with in open Grade 1 races this season.

An odds-on defeat on his seasonal return at Down Royal in November was disappointing but Our Duke scoped dirty after the race, providing a legitimate excuse for his run.

Still unexposed over three miles and more, Our Duke arrives with the highest official rating in the field but I believe he still has more improvement to come and with the yard in better form over the past month than at any other point this season he can start to show it here.

3.45 Musselburgh: Carlton Ryan at a general 9-2

A prolific point-to-point winner, Carlton Ryan has done almost all of his racing under Rules in Hunter Chases and appeals as a well handicapped horse off a mark of 112 based on his best efforts in those races.

That includes a second place finish behind Wonderful Charm (successful again in the same race yesterday) in the Hunter Chase at this meeting last year and though he didn’t live up to market expectations on his handicap debut at Bangor last time he was entitled to need the outing in conditions that were pretty desperate.

His proven form at the track is a plus, while his young rider knows him very well and the stable have their horses in good form at present.

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