3.40 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f
This is a pretty deep race for a low grade handicap on a random January Tuesday on the Southwell Fibresand. Any number of horses could easily have a fair shout – but it is the new Michael Appleby recruit Canford Thompson that may hold all the aces.
The five year old gelding remains a maiden on the flat after 11 starts, although he won a maiden hurdle in 2016. Nonetheless, he is a super interesting individual after catching the eye on the last two occasions at Lingfield.
Back from a near year long break back in November over 2 miles, followed up in early December over 12 furlongs – in both races Canford Thompson ran an awful lot better than the bare form suggests, as in both cases he made eye-catching progress from over 4f out on the wide outside. The sectionals back both performances up as quite significant in the context of these moves and are valid excuses for him finishing tired in the final furlong.
The forms of those races, particularly the 12f contest in December, work out really well. They give the form credit and upgrade his performances in both contests in my book. Regardless, the handicapper dropped him 3lb to a career lowest mark.
I believe Canford Thompson is incredibly well handicapped if receiving a more solid & economical ride. Concerns I do have over the surface which he tries for the first time in combination with his habit to start slowly.
This more demanding surface and a hopefully good pace might be what he wants but it easily could not suit him if he finds himself behind early on when blowing the start. We shall see.
However, then he’s of even more interest the next time. It is worth a try, though, and the fact that Alistair Rawlinson is in the saddle, who has a superb record for the Appleby yard at this course, suggests a big run is certainly expected.
10pts win – Canford Thompson @ 11/2 Bet365
4.10 Southwell: Class 6 Handicap, 1 mile
Take out the favourite Indigo Princess, who may not be able to reproduce her massive performance from three days ago, and you are left with a race wide open for anyone who is on a “going day” to take it.
Despite four poor performances to date, long-shot Shackles might be the answer here. He hasn’t shown an awful lot, though, with a bit of goodwill there were some positives to take from his comeback run at Wolverhampton in December on his first start for the Nicky Richards yard.
Only four career starts, this here will be his second run in a handicap, and he can do so off a rating lowered to 53 now. There is a fair chance Shackles is a bit better than that. On pedigree the jury is out particularly on the question of the Fibresand surface – though, on the dam side is plenty of hope with the dam’s sire having an excellent record at this track.
Shackles was a late April foal, so turning four now, he may needed the time to mature, so his year long absence before his reappearance last month might actually be a good thing.
Eye-catching jockey booking with Paul Mulrennan who has only two rides on the card while Nicky Richards has only this one runner – Mulrennan has to weight nearly two hours until the final race on the card until he can go home after his initial ride.
Interestingly, Richards had only one runner at Southwell up until now – ridden by Paul Mulrennan. It was a winner.
10pts win – Shackles @ 25/1 Bet365