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Carlisle Choices: Etxalar fancied to enhance excellent course record

| 08.04.2014

There is some decent jumps action at Carlisle today, and Etxalar looks good value to enhance his excellent record at the track in the 2m 4f handicap chase at 4.55.

The Lucinda Russell trained gelding has won four of his nine starts at the venue, with two of those coming this season.

The first came over this afternoon’s trip in December, where after leading he rallied gamely when headed and only had to be driven out to beat Indian Voyage by five lengths.

He now meets the runner-up, who is favourite for this, on 18lb better terms and that rival faces a tough task to reverse the placings despite having shown improved form since.

The selection has since gone on to land a 2m 3f contest at the track, and ran really well last time out at Ayr when third to Mister Philson where he was beaten just four lengths after making a couple of costly errors.

That run showed that he remained in good form, and off 1lb lower he looks sure to run well and take the beating now returned to his favourite stomping ground.

Elsewhere on the card, the well-treated Knight Valliant looks worth siding with to cash-in on his falling mark in the handicap hurdle at 4.25 now that he gets the services of a professional in the saddle.

Barbara Butterworth’s gelding is on a long losing run having not scored since winning over course and distance back in October 2012.

However, he won by five lengths that day off a mark of 92 and now gets into this off just 89 having shaped far better than his form figures suggest in recent starts.

The 11-year-old is a tricky customer who needs to be delivered late on the scene, and although he has run some solid races under his regular amateur rider Liz Butterworth it may well be that he needs stronger handling at this stage of his career to get his head back in front.

If that is the case then the booking of Sean Quinlan may well work the oracle, and there is little doubt that he is weighted to go in again if being persuaded to put his best foot forward.

In the bumper that closes the card at 5.25, Bryden Boy looks to have major claims of opening his account at the third time of asking.

The Jenny Candlish trained gelding has finished runner-up in both his starts, and the form of the first of those when beaten just a length by Relic Rock at Wetherby sets a high standard for his rivals to aim at.

The winner is a really useful sort who got beat just a head in a valuable 19-runner bumper at Aintree last week, and that is very strong form which suggests the selection should be more than capable of winning a race of this nature.

2.20: Un Guet Apens
2.50: Hallmark Star
3.20: Lively Baron
3.50: Sharney Sike
4.35: Knight Valliant (NB)
4.55: Etxalar (NAP)
5.35: Bryden Boy

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David Metcalf

A lifelong Manchester United supporter, David has over 25 years’ experience in the media industry having worked for regional and national newspapers. He is a huge horse racing, football and greyhound fan and has done interviews on various radio and TV stations, including talkSPORT and Sky Sports, whilst working as a PR front man for a betting firm. David has also written for most of the top Premier League football fan websites, and produced a Cheltenham Festival guide with former eight-times champion national hunt jockey Peter Scudamore, MBE, after helping him to set up a syndicate for his trainer son Michael.