Bitozapuzzle Something Special

December 18th, 2015 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

You don’t often see horses prepared for handicaps the old-fashioned way these days, but Nicky Richards has stuck to many of the traditional methods adopted for so long by his late father Gordon and we saw further evidence of that today when Baywing landed a hat-trick over hurdles at Uttoxeter.

The six-year-old, who was very well bought for just 14,000Euros as an unbroken three-year-old, was beaten a total of 159 lengths on his first three starts over hurdles last season, receiving a handicap mark of 90. He was then beaten off that mark at Ayr in March and was then put away until this season.

Heavily supported on his return in a 0-110 at Carlisle in November, he was hammered in the market from 5/1 in places overnight to evens, winning easily by 10 lengths. He then followed up a month later off 104 at Uttoxeter before winning today over an extended 2m 7f from a mark of 117 – two stone higher than his winning mark at Carlisle.

Baywing loves the mud and stays forever so it will be long-distance chases for him next winter. As for now he will be kept to pot-hunting over hurdles while he has his ground.

I need to say a few words about Bitofapuzzle, certainly my favourite mare in training and quite possibly my favourite horse of either gender at the moment.

You will be familiar with her form over hurdles, when she followed up a fine effort to finish third in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with a Grade 1 success at Fairyhouse. It was her big day at Exeter on Thursday, when she made her chasing debut in a more than fair novices’ chase. Up against rivals rated 130 and 140 over hurdles, she made all to win with great ease by 11 lengths without appearing to move up a gear.

All Harry Fry is prepared to say at the moment is that she will ‘take on the boys’ at some point this spring. I assume, if that means Cheltenham, that she will be entered for the RSA Chase and the JLT. Although she won over an extended 2m 7f in a Grade 2 at Ascot last January, her best form has been at two and a half miles. That may incline connections to keeping her at the shorter trip, but I have backed her at long odds for both races. We will learn more after she runs again.

Finally, the Winter Guide was published on Thursday and is also available to view online. I am also writing my Boxing Day & New Year Online Preview on Monday and Tuesday, packed with gems for the holiday programme including a few snippets for the low-profile meetings. Please refer to the shop for further details.

Have a great weekend and bye for now.