Bird set to fly at Southwell

First published in Sport

TENNESSEE Bird can gain sweet solace for a narrow reverse at Doncaster when he reports for duty over hurdles at Southwell today.

The Mike Sowersby-trained five-year-old is far from a legend of the turf, having shown next to nothing in nine tries before his latest assignment on Town Moor.

But a combination of better ground and a significant helping-hand from the assessor saw Tennessee Bird demonstrate that he at least possesses a degree of ability.

Sowersby’s inmate ate up acres of ground in a typically strong Doncaster handicap to go down by a short head to Overdante, whose jockey, Noel Fehily, used all of his cunning to bustle clear.

Tennessee Bird would probably have won within a handful more strides, so the handicapper’s decision to add 5lb for the coral.co.uk Mobile Casino Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle seems fair enough.

This extended two-and-ahalf- mile test looks far inferior to the race at Doncaster, while it is reassuring Gavin Sheehan, who is one of the best conditionals around, has again been given the leg-up.

A few bob on Mr Puck in the Money Back Racing Specials At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap Hurdle also looks the order of the day.

The six-year-old grey has brought more than a hint of promise to the table in four tries over hurdles, and was probably a little unlucky to bump into the likeable at Dungeel on his handicap debut at Catterick.

A chance can be given to Bow Badger in the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at Carlisle.

John Wade’s seven-year-old has not run for 473 days, but that might not be that big an issue as he tends to go very well as a fresh horse.

That claim was underlined at Musselburgh in November 2011 when he overcame a long absence to win a tight handicap hurdle.

Bow Badger is just 5lb higher here, but he has only once finished out of the money in six starts over hurdles and could be the curveball in what is quite an interesting race.

The feature event at Carlisle is the Cumberland Show Handicap Chase, in which Sydney Paget looks bound to go well despite the burden of top-weight.

A smart novice hurdler last term, Donald McCain’s sixyear- old has taken a little while to grasp the chasing game, with a fall at Kelso followed by a couple of only moderate placed efforts.

However, he appeared well suited by a stiff test of stamina when bolting up at Towcester last month and with conditions to suit, he should make his presence felt off an initial mark of 130.

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