2.00 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Quite a competitive and wide open race. You can’t easily discount too many of the nine runners. A possible lack of clear front-runner doesn’t help the picture, either.
Nonetheless, the one I am most interested in is Expert Opinion. He drops down in class, and looks ripe off a 64 handicap mark with a capable 3lb claimer in the saddle.
He should be a bit better than his current mark; at this stage of his career he’s possibly got a solid win left in him, in my view. He’s shown it a number of times in 2022. He put up two big performances at this course over 5 furlongs in November – his third place two runs back represented a career best on speed ratings as well.
Four times in his career (three of those runs in2022) he achieved speed ratings of 64+; he was placed off OR 70 at Newmarket in May and has largely been consistent.
That says, Expert Opinion is a tricky sort. His poor strike rate tells a tale. There is a positive and a negative side to the fact that’s he’s been placed 3 of 4 over this course and distance – albeit without winning. His overall course record reads 11-1-7.
The application of blinkers didn’t help last time out at Southwell. It was an uncharacteristically poor run. That’s a question mark, but I am prepared to forgive that off day.
I probably would have preferred to see him over the minimum trip here at this track, though. Nonetheless, he stays 6 furlongs, and the possible lack of pace means he may be able to travel right at the front of the field, which is always and advantage around Chelmsford.
His possibly superior speed could see him hard to beat in this class.
10pts win – Expert Opinion @ 9/1
7.30 Wolverhampton: Classified Stakes, 5f
A poor race and you can’t trust anyone of the market principles to deliver. That brings Toplight right into the mix, if he’s on a going day and allowed to run on merit. Jockey booking suggests that should be the case.
Toplight was well backed in most of his runs since changing yards, now in the care of Tony Carroll. He also ran quite well more often than not.
His most recent run, only four days ago is a concern, on the other hand. He was backed into 7/2, but made a bit of a mess at the start and hung badly around the home bend, never appearing happy at all.
I’ll take the risk and hope they wouldn’t run him so quickly again, if all is well. In any case, his penultimate performance sets the standard in this field, in my view.
He was an excellent runner-up behind Waverley Star, who was clearly well handicapped on the day, given he followed up with another huge run subsequently off 7lb higher.
That day Toplight tried to go with the speedy front-runner, and paid for it in the final furlong, but held on for second.
His overall strike rate is poor. He hasn’t won since November 2021. However, he’s got a fine course and distance record (8-2-3). Over the last 12-13 months he only ran 4 times at Wolverhampton, 3x over CD and ran strongly on all bar the most recent occasion.
I hope Clifford Lee makes use of the perfect #2 draw. Others want to grab the lead, but he could set handily, tracking the pace, without wasting too much energy, if all goes to plan.
There’s every chance Toplight is drifting during the day. We likely know well in advance of the race whether he’s in it to win it. If he is, the early price should be tremendous value in my book.
10ts win – Toplight @ 10/1