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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Longsdon hoping for more Burke heroics on Midnight Shot

Midnight Shot bids to bounce back to winning form in Uttoxeter's feature chase
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Race Of The Day

3.40 Uttoxeter
Actionclad Handicap Chase | 2m4f | ATR

Going: Good to soft (good in places on hurdles course)

Weather: Dry

After cementing their new partnership with a remarkable victory via Azure Fly at Newton Abbot on Friday, the Johnny Burke and Charlie Longsdon team are hoping for further success with Midnight Shot in the feature event.

Burke’s performance aboard Azure Fly, who needed to be cajoled and pushed throughout the final circuit before turning what looked certain defeat into last-gasp victory, was wonderful to watch, and his boss said: “It will have done Johnny’s confidence the world of good, and he must be on the short-list for ride of the week.”

Midnight Shot is a more straightforward type, the slick-jumping seven-year-old having taken really well to fences this year with three straight wins at Towcester (twice) and Hexham before being found out in stronger company at Market Rasen and Southwell.

He has come down 5lb in the weights for those two defeats, though, and Longsdon is hoping for a decent effort.

“It’s a £25,000 race, but represents a drop in grade,” he said. “Midnight Shot loves his jumping, and is a very honest and enthusiastic horse.”

One of Midnight Shot’s most serious rivals looks to be recent Stratford scorer Exitas, who has been nursed back to peak health by Phil Middleton after a catalogue of problems.

“He ran in the Greatwood Hurdle three years ago when rated in the 130s,” Middleton recalled. “However, things fell apart for him after that race. He came in from the field one day with his legs all swollen - we think he may have been bitten by an adder.

“At one stage the vet said, 'You’ll never get him back', but we’ve worked hard and got the horse right again now. He’s in great order and won really well at Stratford. He’s off 115 now with a nice, low weight, and I think he’s got a great chance.”

At the other end of the handicap, Alan King’s Midnight Cowboy heads the 12-strong field under 11st 12lb.

An improving six-year-old who has thrived since switching to fences in May, winning three of his five starts, he seems sure to prove popular with punters.

Richard Newland must always be respected in events of this nature too, and his six-year-old Beau Bay, the mount of Sam Twiston-Davies, has also made a bright beginning to his chasing career, winning impressively at Perth prior to finishing third at Newton Abbot off a 12lb higher mark.

The handicapper has dropped him 1lb for that defeat, and Beau Bay could well bounce back on ground which will suit him better than at Newton Abbot.

Bastyan boost for Khismet

Mitch Bastyan’s 7lb claim is unlikely to last long, and the talented teenager appears to have a decent chance of a tenth winner of the season aboard Khismet in Uttoxeter’s Sentinel #localandproud Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (4.10).

“I was very pleased with her second at Bangor last time,” trainer John Flint said. “She has matured and is in good heart. It’s a mares’ only race – which always helps – and Khismet must have a decent chance.”

Fort Gabriel could bounce back

Fort Gabriel took his form to a new level on joining David Bridgwater in the summer, stringing together three consecutive wins at Fontwell, Ffos Las and Newton Abbot.

A spectacular round of bold jumping from the front at Ffos Las in particular will live long in the memory, but the gelding has been below that level in his last two starts.

Bridgwater may have found a good opening for the six-year-old to resume winning ways in Plumpton’s Andrew “Super Wack” Jackson Memorial Handicap Chase (2.50), particularly with a return to fast ground in his favour.

“We’ve freshened him up, and I think he’s got a really good chance,” Bridgwater said. “He’s only six, and is still going the right way. He’s in great nick.”

Holly Bush Henry bids for quick double

Holly Bush Henry, a Musselburgh winner in January 2016 off a mark of 134, took advantage of a drop down the weights to score at Worcester on Monday when rated 122.

Phil Middleton’s gelding still looks ahead of the game under a 7lb penalty in Plumpton’s Crystal Services Handicap Hurdle (3.50), and his trainer said: “It took me a bit of time to figure out that he needed three miles, and that step up in trip plus the application of blinkers did the trick at Worcester.

“He’s a horse with a lot of ability, and has come right again.”

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He loves his jumping, and is very honest and enthusiastic
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