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Monday’s most valuable race is the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap hurdle reserved for four-year-olds at Ballinrobe (17:00), which has a prize of €22,000 and has drawn a field of 11.

Timeform’s weighted ratings are led by Sheishybrid (139p), a filly who was quite a useful handicapper on the flat and made a promising start over hurdles, finishing third on her Cork debut before confirming that promise to land a mare-limited maiden on the same journey.

Sheishybrid would have been a better fit in the relative speed test than some of those behind it, and the top two on the market fell short of expectations, but she was still a decisive winner and an opening score of 105 is potentially forgiving for this unexposed hurdler. She has since finished second in a two-mile flat handicap at Tramore, running near her best.

Another type of enhancement that features prominently on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings is hat-trick research. Just Jacob (138p). Just Jacob, a fairly useful handicap winner on the flat for William Haggas, took a little while to find his feet on the hurdles for Gavin Cromwell but he justified the support to come off the mark in this area in Cork the month last and then showed improved form to follow a higher mark of 7 pounds in Sligo 18 days ago.

Just Jacob was well ahead going into the two-and-a-quarter mile contest, impressing with the way he broke away from the peloton after sprinting to lead shortly after the last, winning the Horse in Focus Flag from the Timeform journalist. This performance showed he was heading in the right direction over hurdles and, combined with his flat shape, offers hope that there may be better to come, so another 7-pound increase may not be enough for prevent him from completing the hat trick.

The other rider in the peloton with the ‘p’ for probable improver attached to his grade is As the tears fall (133p).

As Tears Go By looked like he missed last time out on his standout debut at Punchestown in April, but he put that behind him when he made a successful hurdles debut at Sligo last month, clearing away in the straight to win by five and a half lengths. He found things more difficult under a penalty in Galway last time out, finishing fourth, and his opening handicap mark is pretty stiff based on bare form, but it’s still early days and he’s between excellent hands with Gordon Elliott and has a pedigree that suggests he could prove better with time (he’s a half-brother to clever Mares’ Hurdle winner Black Tears).

Elliott also runs Douglas DC (136) and Doctor Churchill (134). Douglas DC took advantage of a good chance to stand out at Tramore in April, then produced his best effort yet when he finished second at Bellewstown a few starts later. He was below that form when he was a beaten favorite at Downpatrick last time out, but that opening mark looks pretty fair based on Bellewstown’s form and his strong travel style offers hope that handicaps could better suited than novices on small terrain.

Doctor Churchill overcame the hurdles at Limerick on Boxing Day and ran a better run in defeat when he finished second at Punchestown on his handicap hurdles debut, but was well beaten in the Boodles at Cheltenham Festival. It’s a lesser race, but he has to carry the maximum weight and the others call him on a higher note, although it’s worth remembering that he was temperamental on the flat.

Last year’s race was won by yard runner Joseph O’Brien and this time the trainer is represented by faron (138). Faron, winner of a first hurdle at Kilbeggan in April, was stopped at Wexford in June but bounced back to land a novice hurdle at Sligo earlier this month. He stayed well to get the verdict by half a length in Sligo and can see that effort slightly improved as he was pushed back shortly after the penultimate. He looks well treated for his handicap hurdles debut.

Time Form Analyst Verdict:

Just Jacob has been really acting lately and might be ready to challenge the handicapper again and score a hat trick. Sheishybrid followed up her first success over the Cork hurdles with a solid second on the flat and is the most feared ahead of the pair of Gordon Elliott As Tears Go By and Douglas DC.

Weighted Timeform Ratings:

138p Just Jacob
138 Faron
137 Great Achievement
137 Astrophysicist
136 Too bright
136 Baron Savage
136 Douglas Boulevard
134+ Eagle Terrace
134 Doctor Churchill
133p Along the tears

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Christy J. Olson