6.15 Leicester: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
Small field and interesting from a pace angle, this class 4 Handicap looks a weak race nonetheless. Most if not all of these could have a claim to grab the lead, or at the very least follow it closely. How will this pan out?
Two from my eyecatcher list are running, with Ex Gratia preferred in the market over Devilwala.
The filly caught my eye at Lingfield on the All-Weather and subsequently ran a good race when second on Lingfield’s turf course. Ultimately she didn’t have excuses the last time and off the same mark I don’t think she is anything better than handicapped to her best form. That can be good enough in this weak race today, but her temperamental issues are off putting too.
Devilwala is clearly the one I am most interested from a price perspective, though. Whether today is the day remains to be seen. The jockey booking isn’t inspiring. But there are a number of things I like that make be believe he’s got a better than one in ten chance to win today given he’s down to a really sexy handicap mark.
He came to my attention at Ripon in April when he ran a lot better than the bare result suggested, in my view. He clearly didn’t stay the mile and the opposition was too hot most likely, anyway.
The next three times he races against even hotter competition and stood no chance, although the last time at Chester I felt he didn’t get the best of runs and he could have finished closer.
If I believe this to be true then I must firmly believe he’s a proper chance today, given he drops in class off 5lb lower in the Official Rating running over what’s most likely his optimum trip.
Obviously Devilwala has fallen a long way from the previous heights of being rated 113 and finishing only 2¾ behind St. Mark’s Basilica in the Dewhurst. Obviously there is every chance that he’s gone. But I felt he showed enough this year to assume he still has some appetite for the game.
10pts win – Devilwala @ 10/1
3.40 York: Class 2 Handicap, 6f
This is a ultra-competitive sprint Handicap and I can make the case for more than a handful to be in with a realistic shout. Plenty of potential improvers and loads of strong LTO form on offer.
Yet my eye is drawn to Vintage Clarets, one who’s not shown anything on paper this year so far. He’s far from a likely winner, nonetheless I feel you won’t find many days a better 22/1 shot.
If one looks what’s underpinning his 2022 form then he’s performed with more credit than those naked results would tell. For one he’s raced in hot races three times, the last time over course and distance against older horses. A seriously tough assignment. He was too keen early on and faded away in the closing stages but long time was right in the mix.
At Chester he ran actually quite a good race in unsuitable conditions, even clocking the fasted split for the penultimate furlong. He’s nine pounds lower in the mark than when he started the season at Newmarket – off 87 I think he’s dangerous given he showed enough the last two times to suggest there’s life.
Obviously as an early peaking juvenile last year, third in the Coventry, only 2 lengths down in the highly competitive Super Sprint, one has to take it with a pinch of salt as this often doesn’t translate to 3-year-old form.
But crucially Vintage Clarets will have his preferred fast ground today for the first time this year. He’s likely to have a pace to chase from his draw, which might help him to settle better and tow him into the closing stages with a shot.
Others may improve past him, have better form and he may simply be nowhere near as good an older horse as he was a juvenile. At 22s it’s low risk high reward given at this point in time he looks a horse capable of running to mark in the low 90s in ideal conditions.
10pts win – Vintage Clarets @ 22/1
6.45 Leicester: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f
Beryl Burton is a very obvious choice in this and I have her about a 6/4 chance, rather than the generous odds on offer. The favourite Haven Lady is clearly progressing nicely on turf over this trip and may have more to offer, but simply hasn’t run overly fast yet, hence she’s vulnerable in my book.
Contrasting that with Beryl Burton who was seriously unlucky last time out over ten furlongs, she ran to topspeed 56 that day. For a neck beaten 2nd place she is up two pounds but should be well able to defy it with a clear run and for possible improvement over the additional distance.
She doesn’t have a sexy profile with one single victory in 13 lifetime starts, but she knocked on the door a number of times and her pedigree suggests 12 furlongs is well within range, a trip she’s completely unexposed.
Nine days ago at Redcar she was held up and travelled well, making excellent progress in the home straight, but ultimately didn’t get a run at a crucial stage, while the eventual winner, still well handicapped Rocket Dancer, got first run. She got out with a furlong to go and finished much the strongest.
The obvious question marks today aren’t whether she is good enough to win off 56 – she clearly is, and neither is it a mater of stamina, I believe. however she can have a tendency to be keen early on and that can be fatal over the additional distance.
I hope there’s enough pace on with the obvious leaders Haven Lady and Eagle One. It’s a small enough field, which at least should minimise any danger of meeting trouble.
10pts win – Beryl Burton @ 5/2