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Leicester and Wetherby previews: The Organist to call the tune

David Metcalf | January 26, 2016

Oliver Sherwood’s The Organist can lead rivals a merry dance

The Organist can maintain her unbeaten record and enhance her Cheltenham Festival claims with success in the 2m novices’ hurdle on today’s card at Leicester (13.55).

A winner on a bumper at Perth on her sole start for Irish handler Stuart Crawford, the mare has created a huge impression in winning both her starts over the obstacles since joining trainer Oliver Sherwood.

The five-year-old made all and pulled clear in effortless fashion to score by 15 lengths and Huntingdon, and followed up in similar style when running out a facile 28 length winner at Fontwell on Boxing Day.

Although what The Organist has beat so far is questionable, the manner of the successes suggest she is a very exciting prospect who needs keeping firmly onside.

The daughter of Alkaadhem clearly has a huge engine, and Sherwood is keen to get some more experience into her before a possible tilt at the newly introduced Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Leicester 24/02/09

Coral make The Organist a 10/1 shot to win the inaugural running of the race on Thursday, March 17th, and I fully expect her to get the better of main market rival Tara Flow to pass this test with flying colours.

Knockgraffon can kick rivals into touch

In the 2m 4f novices’ hurdle (15.00), Knockgraffon can defy a penalty to follow-up his recent win over course and distance.

After finishing a highly promising runner-up on debut over hurdles in a warm race at Aintree, the Dan Skelton trained gelding duly went one better when cosily beating King Kayf by 3/4 of a length at this venue.

Knockgraffon made smooth headway from off the pace to take up the running two from home, and only has to be driven out with hands and heels on the run-in to get the job done.

The pair pulled 3 1/2 lengths clear of the highly-regarded Onefitzall, and it was a performance which suggested there was even better to come.

Knockgraffon does have to shoulder a 7lb penalty for that victory, but remains totally unexposed after just four runs under rules and I expect him to prove up to the task.

Leicester Selections

13.20: Pret A Thou
13.55: The Organist (NAP)
14.30: Doctor Harper
15.00: Knockgraffon (NB)
15.35: Call The Detective
16.10: When In Roam

Mr McGregor handicap to strike at Wetherby

Mr McGregor can take advantage of a career-low mark to open his account under rules in the 3m handicap hurdle at Wetherby (14.50).

The Heather Dalton trained gelding is yet to get his head in front in 10 starts, but has run well to make the frame on eight occasions.

They include a solid third to Steel Summit in a handicap hurdle at Taunton off a mark of 91, and three excellent second placed efforts over fences off a rating of 95.

Mr McGregor now reverts to the smaller obstacles off a mark of just 86, and that makes him potentially thrown-in at the weights on the pick of his form.

The eight-year-old should also now be spot on to do himself justice after two outings to blow away the cobwebs following a break, and the fitting of the cheekpieces for the first time looks a shrewd move as Mr McGregor can tend to race lazily.

Wetherby

The booking of Richard Johnson to do the steering for the first time is also a big plus and one which suggests connections mean business.

Poet Mark has plenty going for him on handicap debut

In the 2m 3f handicap hurdle (13.45), Poet Mark looks weighted to go well at a big price.

The Tim Easterby trained gelding shaped with plenty of promise on debut over hurdles when a not knocked about sixth of 12 to stable companion Out Thomas over 2m at this venue, finishing a neck in front of Harley Rebel who has come out and won since and is now rated 117.

Poet Mark then ran as well as could be expected when a 21 length runner-up to the 138-rated Duke Of Medina at Market Rasen, but has not been at his best in two subsequent outings.

However, the four-year-old looks a potential improver now going down the handicap route and an opening mark of 99 could well be on the lenient side judged on the pick of his form.

Connections have also done well with similar types over the years, and this is a weak class 5 contest lacking any real strength in depth in which Poet Mark should be capable of being very competitive.

Wetherby Selections

13.10: Pinkie Brown
13.45: Poet Mark (NB)
14.20: Take The Mick
14.50: Mr McGregor (NAP)
15.25: Throthethatch
16.00: No Comment

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