DE SOUSA COULD BRIDGE GULF: Daqman naps a Silvestre De Sousa ride today and argues that the headlines have got it all wrong: it’s De Sousa not Hanagan who is with the helpful trainer today, as only four winners separate these leading riders.

It just needs a De Sousa surge. The chasing jockey is only four behind, as Paul Hanagan suffers his second losing run this month on 15 consecutive; he’s previously had 20 flops in a row in October. Clearly his strike rate is rock bottom.

Hanagan is hunting for more than seven hours from Newmarket to Wolverhampton, clashing with De Sousa from the outset, but with the pair up against an odds-on shot, Opera Flute (1.20).

And, though Hanagan’s link with William Haggas is billed today – he rides three Haggas horses in a row – they have had very little luck teamed up recently: in fact, contrary to the ‘Haggas is helping Hanagan’ headline, the last four Haggas winners have been ridden by Murtagh (2), Ahern and Liam Jones.

3.00 Newmarket Best heat of the day, a Listed, and it should be a fast-run race on top of the ground, with Subtle Knife (De Sousa), Besito (Kieren Fallon), Idol’s Eye, Miss Lahar and Excelette all showing a front-running style recently.

Lines through Miss Lahar and Misty Conquest give Excelette (5.3) the edge but we’re talking exposed animals here, with the exception of Idol’s Eye, the choice of entries for Richard Hannon, three times winner of the race in the last eight years, and a huge 24.0 on Betdaq this morning.

3.20 Wetherby The first of two Listed races at Wetherby and we have to back Ruby Walsh, who is over from Ireland despite his hatred of the whips law, for the one ride on Fistral Beach.

Offers of 5.3 are better than they look, since we can virtually rule out Quartz De Thaix, Misstree Dancer, Charingworth and Mr Crystal with their stables so badly out of form.

Additionally, Shoreacres is an unsafe conveyance and the pencil has to go through Mister McGoldrick, much as many will love to see him race again at the age of 14.

3.35 Newmarket The Hills family love to win handicaps here and Fine Threads shaped well over shorter when favourite last time. Stakes should be reduced since, on past performance, and on breeding – she’s a Barathea – you’d expect her to need some rain.

Hawaafez hasn’t been seen since her sixth in the Queens Vase; Hanagan’s mount Just Lille, has won only claimers recently; and De Sousa’s hope, Jeu De Vivre is another you could fancy only if it rained.

3.55 Wetherby I’m laying paper favourite Secret Edge. He’s up against five recent winners, consecutive down the card, and his own last-time second has been let down by both the winner and the fourth horse.

5.20 Newmarket Unlike the reality behind the Hanagan-Haggas headline, De Sousa has ridden four of Mark Johnston’s last five winners, and I like the look of Gulf Of Naples here.

The only other one they’ve come for is Blimey O’Riley but Tom Queally, tailed off on the six-year-old at Goodwood, knows that, in order to win at Newbury last time, O’Riley’s boy rider incurred a 15-day whips ban.

BET 4.6pts win EXCELETTE, and 0.8pts win and place IDOLS EYE (3.00 Newmarket)
BET 4.6pts win (nap) FISTRAL BEACH (3.20 Wetherby)
BET 5pts win FINE THREADS and 3.5pts win HAWAAFEZ (3.35 Newmarket)
LAY to win 10pts SECRET EDGE (3.55 Wetherby)
BET 6.4pts win GULF OF NAPLES (5.20 Newmarket)

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