Maple Bay is a must


DON'T miss out on Maple Bay in the Hutton Wandesley Novices' Handicap Hurdle at Catterick today.

Returning after a 1,111 day absence from the jumping scene and with a set of uninspiring form figures, the seven-year-old's chances are far from obvious at first glance.

But the gelding has enjoyed a cracking year on the Flat, winning no less than nine times at around a mile for Alan Bailey.

It's true that he lost his form towards the end of the season but that probably had a lot to do with taking a hike up the weights as the handicapper punished him for his string of victories.

Bought by Brian Ellison at the Doncaster November Sales for 8,000 guineas, Maple Bay didn't show much when he last ran over hurdles in 1993. But back then he was a modest maiden on the Flat and is clearly a different animal now.

There is a worry that a very long campaign on the level may have taken the edge off Maple Bay. But running off such a lowly mark against very ordinary opposition, he has to be worth chancing.

Furietto is looking to recoup losses following a fall at Chepstow last time, when sent off the well-backed 5 to 4 favourite. In close contention and going well, Micky Hammond's hurdler fell five out in the race won by Dragonmist.

This effort came after an encouraging seasonal debut, when the Middleham runner failed by two lengths to concede 2st to Belle Rose over an extended two and a half miles at Wetherby.

Favoured by today's race conditions, Furietto can repay followers with victory in the Raffyard House Selling Hurdle.

Tony Dobbin was in double form at Musselburgh yesterday scoring on Triennium and Montrave both trained just eight miles from the track at Rosewell by Peter Monteith. The doubles boosted Monteith's tally for the season to nine, while Dobbin, who enjoyed a memorable victory on Addington Boy in the Tripleprint Gold Cup, is now on the 37 mark.

Brian Harding, who was knocked out for several minutes after taking a crashing fall from Show Your Hand at Newcastle on Monday, will be detained for a second night in Newcastle General Hospital. A hospital spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the 24-year-old jockey's condition as "stable and comfortable".