No surprise to see this Handicap as competitive as it is with more than half of the field in with a legitimate win chance. Right at the head of the market is the recently so impressive Lingfield winner Mindyourownbusiness. A progressive colt, he improved nicely from run to run and got his game very much together the last time to win with a bit of authority. He had quite the run of the race, though, and up 7lb in the handicap mark, more is needed. Though, given his profile, he could easily be up to it.
Melvin The Grate finished a gallant fourth that day, following on from some excellent performances. He tracked the eventual winner all the way but couldn’t cope with the acceleration of Mindyourownbusiness. Not impossible that he can improve again, but he will have to as it looks to me as if he may be in the grip of the handicapper now. He certainly will need a quick pace and probably a bit of in-running luck if connections decide to revert to the successful hold-up tactics.
Always consistently competitive is Marco Botti’s Solar Deity. In his last five starts he has never been beaten by more than three lengths and finished was in the money in the majority of those races. That is reflected in his handicap mark, which stand stiff at 105. For that reason he has to carry a very big weight today as the highest rated horse in the field and may find one or two too good once again. Godolphin’s Billingsgate had a quick trip to Dubai, but finished last in a competitive Handicap there. Shipped back to the UK, he must rate a good chance here, based on last seasons form, though the travel stress is a slight worry.
David Simcock’s Halation is an interesting runner. This Azamour gelding is clearly progressive, and had excuses when he finished down the field behind Mindyourownbusiness at Lingfield on his seasonal reappearance. The handicapper gave him a big chance subsequently and he obliged duly. He was in the right position that day, but also travelled beautifully and looked like a horse with much more to come. Consequently raised in the mark, he will need to improve, but the trip should suit well as on pedigree he is supposed to get further as well as get better with time. A fine 7lb claimer cancels effectively out the 6lb rise of the the handicap mark and therefore I would expect Halation to be very competitive today – if he is able to overcome his wide draw – which has to be a slight concern.
Veteran Santefisio hasn’t been seen to best effect in recent starts, however he is on a very long losing run and simply need more help from the handicapper. Jack Of Diamonds ran with loads of credit in his last starts. Expect him to be competitive today. He has a bit to find with the more fancied rivals, though. Don’t Call Me looks as good as ever, but that says looked unlikely to be able to win off a mark as high as the current one in this grade. Pearl Nation is better suited to Southwell, though has Wolverhampton form. He did well lately, however it’s much more required here today.
On balance, I feel Halation is the dark horse to an extend and is overpriced. He is on a mark that gives him a chance to win if natural improvement would kick in for this lightly raced gelding. He showed nice form recently, has a good 7lb claimer on board and should like the trip.
2.50 Wolverhampton:Lincoln Trial Handicap (C2)
Halation @ 6/1 PP – 5pts win