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Six runners make up the field for the Bathwick Tyres Bath Handicap Hurdle and it has the makings of a very good contest.

Harry Fry has got HINT OF MINT back in a rich vein of form and the gelding tops BTO+ ratings going into the affair. The son of Passing Glance was rating 142 a couple of years ago and connections even regarded him high enough to run against Faugheen in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot. Hint Of Mint was sidelined for around 18 months before he made his return last November. It took a while for the eight-year-old to hit top gear but he's been in in good heart of late. Hint Of Mint was in the winners' enclosure over today's circuit course and distance last December where he won by a neck under top weight and displayed a game attitude. Despite a climb in the handicap, the gelding again scored again at Taunton last month on soft ground by one-and-a-quarter-lengths. He has been raised seven pounds this time but he should improve again. Fry's charge knows the quirks of Taunton well and jockey Noel Fehily brags a 16% better than expected record over the two-miles-and-one-furlong trip.

BELTOR hasn't quite trained on as connections may have hoped. Robert Stephens' charge couldn't have been more impressive when he hacked up in the Adonis Hurdle as a juvenile at Kempton but he hasn't won over obstacles since. Beltor scored on the Flat at Kempton last December and then put in a decent effort at the track over hurdles where he was a length third. The son of Authorized was seventh last time in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month and he has been dropped two pounds for that run, so the gelding could be well treated. Beltor will thrive on the good ground but seems to have lost his way somewhat.

WISHFULL DREAMING represents the powerful team of Richard Johnson and Phillip Hobbs and the gelding looks likely to go off as market favourite. Wishfull Dreaming is lightly raced and has met some decent opposition during his career. The son of Alflora won by an easy five lengths at Chepstow at the start of the campaign and then finished a respectable fifth at Cheltenham when forced to carry a penalty. The Diana Whateley-owned gelding was then entered in a Listed handicap at Sandown. The race was won by an imperious Brain Power on the day but Wishfull Dreaming was a six-length fourth that day and, in hindsight, that is a solid effort. Hobbs' runner is taking a significant drop in class today and Johnston boasts a 23% better than expected strike-rate at Taunton.

Local trainer Paul Nicholls runs AMOUR DE NUIT. The five-year-old has had just three career starts over hurdles but was a 107 rated horse when with Sir Mark Prescott on the Flat. Amour De Nuit started his career over timber with plenty of promise and he was beaten just a length over course and distance but the son of Azamour's form has been disappointing since, he having finished seventh at Ludlow and then was a 10-length third at Taunton. Nonetheless, Nicholls still brags a 33% win-rate at the circuit and Amour De Nuit makes his handicap debut.

PADDYS RUNNER is looking to land a double after winning at Wincanton last time out. Alan King's five-year-old stuck on well to win that day in January but all of the gelding's better runs have come with cut in the ground and the going at the Somerset course looks set to be the opposite of what he prefers.

Article Posted on Monday 20th March 2017 @ 08.36

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