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Taunton best bets (1540): Inca De Lafayette to boost Harry Cobden’s push for champion jockey crown

Taunton provides a tasty National Hunt card for a chilly Tuesday afternoon in February, and this two-mile handicap hurdle should provide enough drama to help racegoers forget the cold for a moment.

15:40 Taunton: Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Guide Handicap Hurdle (2 miles 104 yards)

It’s rare for Nicholls to have three runners in one race and none of them start as favourite, but at the time of writing it is the Philip Hobbs/Johnson White-trained Into The Park who heads the betting.

Their five-year-old certainly looks the part on his handicap debut if able to build on his last-time-out showing that saw him land a 16-runner novice hurdle with eight lengths to spare at Newbury last month.

Planet Sport Bet Daily Special: Bet £20+ cash on any runner in the race and if Into The Park wins by more than 3 lengths, get a £5 Free Bet

Only two other starters command single-figure odds, and the Skelton yard’s Vicki Vale should not be underestimated after signing off last season with a win over this course and distance, and has kicked off this campaign with three frame finishes, including at this venue last time out six weeks ago.

Finishing in front of her that day was Inca De Lafayette, who was driven out strongly by the returning Harry Cobden to land his second win in three outings this term, which came either side of a pulled-up effort at Huntingdon in November.

WATCH: Harry Cobden previews his big rides later this week

The five-year-old is two pounds worse off against Vicki Vale this time, but the manner of his win suggests that should not be an issue, nor should the drop to a shorter trip over which he has won here in the past.

Cobden and Nicholls have teamed up six times over the last five days, and have landed four winners (plus one runner-up and one pulled-up) and there is every chance that they could extend that sequence here. 

Suggested best bet: Inca De Lafayette in the 15:40 at Taunton

 

Nicholls might have most of his eggs in his number one’s basket, but he will be casting a keen eye over his other two runners, both of whom have their joint-top-weight eased by their claiming jockeys’ five-pound allowance.

Freddie Gingell has landed three winners from his previous 11 rides at this venue, and should not be discounted on board Lallygag, while Wild Max is potentially of even more interest on his return from a 19-month absence.

A four-time hurdle winner when first coming under Nicholls’ wing four years ago, he went on to win three of his four attempts over fences, and while this outing might be nothing more than an exploratory pipe-opener, his two course-distance wins here suggest the nine-year-old might be here to do more than make the numbers up if he is already race fit.

Outsider Punt: Wild Max each-way in the 15:40 at Taunton

 

READ MORE: Market Rasen racing tips: Best bets for Tuesday February 20

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