Horse Racing: Hat-trick on the card for fast-improving Tap Night at Kelso

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The progressive Tap Night can maintain his sharp ascent by taking Grade Two honours at Kelso tomorrow.

Lucinda Russell’s chestnut lines up for the totepool Premier Kelso Hurdle in pursuit of hat-trick after winning two small races at Newcastle and Carlisle by an accumulation of 27 lengths. The former American Flat performer is clearly hitting his stride nicely after a few introductory runs last summer. He would be a far shorter price for this race if housed at one of the big powerhouse yards in the south.

Moonlight Drive, meanwhile, has very few miles on the clock, and looks one of the best bets of the day at Doncaster. The six-year-old gelding has perhaps not developed as trainer John Quinn might have wished this term, with a novice chasing career shelved after just one try. He did, however, perform with honour in a hot staying handicap over hurdles at Musselburgh a couple of weeks ago and remains deeply unexposed for the Download William Hill From The App-Store Handicap Hurdle.

This season’s William Hill-sponsored Grimthorpe Chase is not a classic by any stretch, but Neptune Equester could still go well at a decent price. Brian Ellison thinks a great deal of this nine-year-old, who still holds an entry in the Grand National. He admittedly now has a bit to prove following a rather truculent effort at Ayr, but the better ground and more considered tactics should considerably help his cause on Town Moor. Neptune Equester is now just 3lb higher than when an easy winner at Haydock in November and a similar run here would put him bang in contention.

Fix The Rib, meanwhile, can claim a long overdue big handicap victory at Newbury.

The Gary Moore-trained nine-year-old has not hit the mark since November 2009, but that should not prove a deterrent ahead of the Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup (3.10). After all, the likeable gelding has turned in a number of stout displays since his attentions were switched to chasing, having been considered smart enough to run in this season’s Tingle Creek.

A five-time winner over fences, Fix The Rib was scribbled into many notebooks at Kempton last time when he took the step back up to this two-and-a-half-mile trip in his stride, finishing third behind Cruchain and Triangular in what looked a good race. That effort confirmed the opinion two miles is now probably on the brisk side for him, while the better ground at the Sunbury circuit also helped to reignite the yet-to-be-extinguished fire in his belly.

Newbury’s flat, galloping characteristics have also served him well in the past, and at a far higher grade, when he chased home Master Minded in the 2010 Game Spirit Chase.