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Taunton Preview: Shy John ready to shine

Shy John has posted some solid efforts this season and looks weighted to take all the beating in the 3m 2f handicap chase at Taunton today (4.50).

Trained by Jennifer Mason, the gelding won his first two starts in hunter chases last year and went on to finish a highly creditable eighth of 24 to Tammy’s Hill in the Foxhunter at the Cheltenham Festival off an official rating of 124.

The nine-year-old is now able to race off 10lb lower, and signalled that his time was near when narrowly beaten last time out at Ludlow.

Shy John got beat just a head by Shuil Royale having travelled strongly throughout, and arguably would have won but for a bad mistake two from home.

The winner is a useful sort who was well-in at the weights, and in the circumstances it was a cracking effort from Shy John.

A repeat is going to make the son of Kier Park tough to beat, and this looks a great opportunity for Shy John to get back into the winners’ enclosure.

Wizards Bridge has some strong form to his name and can take advantage of what looks a fair mark to land the 3m 1f handicap hurdle (4.20)

Trained by Colin Tizzard, the gelding showed a good attitude to open his account over 2m 4f at Fontwell back in November and shaped quite well in a handicap two starts back when fourth to Private Malone at Wincanton off a mark of 118.

The six-year-old also ran well last time out at Exeter in a 2m 1f novice contest when a fourth of 15 to Qualando, and the winner has since gone on to land the ultra-competitive Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off a rating of 131 to give the form a solid look.

It makes Wizards Bridge’s current mark of 117 look exploitable, especially with the claim of his young rider Paul O’Brien taking another 7lb off his back.

The step back up in trip should also suit, and everything points to a big run.

Selections:

2.15: Final Nudge

2.50: Perspicace

3.20: Martin Cash

3.50: Vayland

4.20: Wizards Bridge (NB)

4.50: Shy John (NAP)

5.20: Winning Spark