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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Johnston sends three runners south for track's richest fixture

Mark Johnston: trainer of Rebel Assault
1 of 1

Bath stages its richest-ever fixture with a pair of valuable handicaps the main attractions on an eight-race card worth a total of £182,750.

The track's new Good Friday slot follows significant investment in racecourse facilities, including the opening of the new Langridge Grandstand last summer, and the £60,000 prize for the 1m3½f handicap (3.30) has tempted Mark Johnston to send a trio of contenders on the long journey down from Middleham in North Yorkshire.

"We've had this race ringed on our calendar for a long time and we are throwing three good darts at it," said Johnston's son and assistant Charlie.

"Permian keeps the weights down hugely and keeps three of them out of the handicap, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was good enough to give the stone and more away to the others that he's required to.

"Sofia's Rock and Mister Manduro are both unexposed and could be anything."

After victories at Wolverhampton and Lingfield, Emenem bids for a hat-trick for trainer Simon Dow, who said: "The form of his penultimate win looks very good with three of the five that finished behind him going on to win and this has been his target for while.

"He will need to improve being 4lb out of the handicap but we're hoping he can do so."

The form of the Betway Lincoln will come under scrutiny in the second most valuable contest - the £50,000 mile handicap (4.30) - as runner-up Oh This Is Us carries topweight of 9st 10lb.

The bookmaking industry dodged a reported £40 million bullet at Doncaster as Ryan Moore was just denied a memorable four-timer on Oh This Is Us, who appears to have a good chance off a 2lb higher mark with Pat Dobbs taking over in the saddle.

Unexposed four-year-old El Vip looks the main danger for Luca Cumani judged on his form last year, while at the other end of the experience scale Bold Prediction is set for his 52nd start with Ed Walker booking promising 7lb claimer Jane Elliott for the ride.

"He's a lovely horse and very consistent, but probably too consistent if anything as he hasn't won for more than a year despite running well," the trainer said.

The highest-rated runner on the card is classy sprinter Muthmir, who makes his first start of the season in the 5½f conditions stakes (4.00).

Without success since winning the 2015 King George Stakes for William Haggas and Hamdan Al Maktoum, the seven-year-old has the weights in his favour and should relish conditions.   

However, Haggas said: "We weren't expecting fast ground in April and his first proper target is the Palace House, so I've been taking my time with him.

"He's definitely not as fit as I would have preferred, but he's not wildly unfit and it looks a perfect opportunity to give him a race before Newmarket."

Having run six times on the all-weather during the winter, Poyle Vinnie will not be lacking for sharpness but trainer Mick Appleby is concerned about the ground.

"He's in cracking form but if it dries up anymore we won't be running," he said.

Bath card

I wouldn't be surprised if he was good enough to give the stone and more away to the others
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