Free Tip – Richard Hawker, a shrewd operator.

Today’s free tip is below.

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Here’s today’s selection

2:40 Exeter – Gastara

Exeter is the meeting of choice on Tuesday, with proper jumping ground and big fields the order of the day. A quick glance at the stats means that the Every Race Live On RacingTV Handicap Hurdle is a race I’m more than willing to play, with a significant negative at the top of the market, and a positive for one at a much bigger price.

Favourite for this handicap hurdle is Seventeen O Four, a winner last time for David Pipe, and a seemingly obvious one to follow up. We were surprised to find, however, that Pipe has a record with handicap debutants in this sphere of just one winner from 47 runners in the past two years. That was a ‘whoa moment’ for us, if you’ll excuse the term, and while it would be foolish to side against a horse with his profile, that record means I’m in no rush to take 9/4 in a race like this.

It could be argued that Richard Hawker’s record with horses running for the first time having come from other yards is inconclusive at best, but digging deeper suggests that such horses should be followed closely. Hawker runs an interesting one here in Gastara, a horse who caught my eye more than once when trained last season by the disgraced Johnny Farrelly. Hawker has had two winners from 14 runners running for the first time since switching yards, giving punters a profit of £315 to a tenner at SP. That is encouraging, but it’s even more striking when you consider that of those 14 runners, half of them were no-hopers sent off at a Betfair SP of 100 or more.

Of seven runners starting at 40/1 or shorter, Hawker has produced two winners (40/1 and 7/2) a runner-up at 22/1 and a third at 12/1. That makes his record look less of a coincidence and more the sign of a shrewd operator, and given the promise Gastara showed for Farrelly in 2020/21, I reckon Gastara ought to be a fraction of his overnight odds of 12/1.

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