BITOFAPUZZLE finished a winner in six of her eight career starts to date and last season developed into one of the very best race mares around over hurdles. A strapping seven-year-old by Beech Tree Stud sire Tamure, she has accrued some valuable experience over smaller obstacles, as she now tackles fences for the first time. She is a quality horse who loves testing ground and seems to have found the ideal opportunity to get off the mark at the first time of asking in Exeter’s 2.20pm Mares’ Novices Chase.
Fitness today is unlikely to be a concern, not least because Harry Fry is a top trainer, but also because Bitofapuzzle won first time out in a bumper at Cheltenham following an eleven month break last year. She is just a very straight-forward mare, who really enjoys her job; jumping and running for fun during a relatively busy campaign which saw her take in six races at the top level last season. In the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, she produced a gallant display from close to the pace and only went down in third place by half a length to Glen’s Melody and Polly Peachum.
After that, Bitofapuzzle took her chance at the Punchestown Festival, in the Grade 1 Mares’ Novices Final over 2m4f, where she produced a terrific display to give 11lb and a four length beating to the classy Willie Mullins trained juvenile Petite Parisienne. At Cheltenham, the faster ground always had her ever-so-slightly on the backfoot, but here she was ridden with extreme confidence by Noel Fehily, who committed for home a long way out and had the race in safe keeping from the home turn onwards. It was a performance which solidified a great season for Harry’s Fry’s star mare and given her physical presence, a career over fences now is a very exciting prospect.
In terms of opposition today, she faces five other mares, only two of which have realistic claims of beating Bitofapuzzle. Cresswell Breeze is useful, but she has to carry a 6lb penalty for her Wincanton win last time out, which won’t be easy considering she is rated 18lb inferior to the selection over hurdles. Dark Spirit was rated 140 over hurdles so is a worthy adversary off level weights, but in no way has she displayed the level of class form Bitofapuzzle has. So long as she is fit and sharp for her first outing of the season, this looks the ideal starting point on route to bigger and better things.