Steve Hughes has two selections on a valuable card at Carlisle
It is Northern Lights finals day at Carlisle, an initiative to bolster the prizes available to connections based to the north of Britain. In truth the quality of horses on show does not meet with the amount of prize money on offer, but it offers these lesser animals an opportunity to claim a big pot for their owners. I have selections for two of those contests. The Bay Birch was placed for the each-way bet on Saturday (advised 20/1).
Carlisle 2.00: Barrys Jack
Trainer Brian Ellison is always one to build up a long term plan for his horses and there is little doubt that Barrys Jack will have been lined up for this contest some time ago.
The 8yo ran up a hat-trick on testing going at around 2m last autumn, including two wins here. He was sent off at long odds-on for the last of those three wins from a mark of 107, the very same rating he runs from today. He did lose his way badly during the second half of last season, but has of course come back down the ratings as a consequence.
However his fourth place in a big field here last month suggested he is back in form and the more testing going and superior race fitness will play in his favour. It looks significant that crack claimer Danny Mcmenamin has been booked, as he was for Nietzsche for the same owners two weeks ago for that brilliant Greatwood win.
Carlisle 2.30: Mahler Lad
In theory as a class 2 race this contest is open to horses rated as high as 150. In reality this contest only contains one horse rated more than 105 and as such Mahler Lad can make his class count.
He has just had the one run this autumn to warm up for this prize and he was a solid second over 3m2f here on much quicker ground. Able to race off the same mark as today, this race is actually much weaker and offers him a chance to dominate the race from the front.
He made all to win at Musselburgh in February and does seem happiest when able to lead. He does possess plenty of stamina and having lost his place battled back up the stiff Towcester hill to win in May. He does act on testing ground having been second here on heavy going in April. With a relatively small field of mediocre horses to take on, Brian Hughes might well be able to get Mahler Lad in front and set a rhythm the others will struggle to live with.
1pt win – Barrys Jack – 2.00 Carlisle – 9/4 William Hill, Paddy Power
1pt win – Mahler Lad – 2.30 Carlisle – 4/1 general