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Friday 15 December 2017

Al Freej can be a knock-out at Ringside

With the National Hunt season taking an unscheduled break due to the weather, all attention is switched to Wolverhampton.

Roger Varian has not had too many runners on an artificial surface this winter but the impression he made in his first season with a licence was a taking one.

As such, anything he sends to compete at this time of year is worth a second look but the claims of Al Freej in the Ringside Conference Suite Maiden Stakes are there for all to see.

The Iffraaj filly was second on her debut at Wolverhampton in November and possibly bumped into an above-average recruit when runner-up again to Mark Johnston's Switzerland at Lingfield last month.

The winner had not been disgraced in maidens at Newmarket and Newbury previously so the fact Al Freej was sent off odds-on to beat that one probably tells you connections think she is decent.

Unfortunately she missed the break, was keen after being bustled to catch up and then ran green so not much went right.

Looking at her rivals on paper it will be very disappointing if she fails to open her account.

Joe Fanning looks an interesting booking by Jo Hughes in the Name A Race To Enhance Your Brand Handicap. They team up with Pressure Drop, a 20/1 winner on debut when with Pat Murphy but disappointing twice since.

Fanning is chasing the all-weather title so will not be wasting his time on no-hopers and Pressure Drop beat Willie Muir's Stepper Point on debut, the winner of his last three races at two including a Longchamp Listed event.

There appears to be valid excuses for the poor runs as she hung left at Windsor and did not appreciate firm ground at Bath, and she might be better than a rating of 68.

Neil Mulholland is more likely to be seen at Cheltenham than Wolverhampton but his dual purpose performer Beneath has a squeak in the Bet At Blue Square Apprentice Handicap.

Versatile over a variety of trips on the level, he has not really taken to hurdling.

An unlucky loser when third here last week, he reappears of the same mark and should go close under the promising Luke McNiff.

Trip Switch can get back on the winning trail in the Bet At Blue Square On Your Mobile Handicap.

George Prodromou's gelding has been in fine form of late but found his 8lb rise beyond him 12 days ago.

With a 7lb claimer taking over from Adam Kirby he should be right on the premises.

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