Monday Selections: 16th January 2023

4.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 9.5f

Tricky opener to Wolverhampton’s Monday card: every horse in the field attempts a new trip or is going to make their handicap debut – it’s a somewhat muddy picture.

At the same time I believe there is about three horses with a prime chance: those are Densetsu, Marmara Star and Smooth Ryder.

The two fillies look bound to improve for the trip on handicap debut, so should the gelding, especially back on the All-Weather. If I can, though, I try to oppose fillies and mares during the winter, hence I am more interested in Smooth Ryder.

This US bred son of Smooth Daddy cost quite a bit of money as a yearling and looks clearly bred to excel over this sort of trip on the sand. He’s not fulfilled the promise of his price tag, and has been gelded in November. However, he showed some promise, at least for what’s required on this lowly level, in his first two starts especially, in my view.

Those came on the All-Weather, incidentally. He was green and raw on debut, but made some solid progress in the home straight, after a rough start to his life as a racehorse.

His second run over the same CD – 7 furlongs at Chelmsford – was quite eye-catching, as he jumped quickly and led the field, setting solid fractions and travelling well into the home straight, before fading.

Those horses ahead of him are all much higher rated today – the winner even as high as 98, other in the 80’s.

Given the trip was certainly on the sharp side, Smooth Ryder ran seriously well that day. When last seen on heavy ground he clearly didn’t enjoy the going, and it’s a form best to ignore.

An opening mark of 61 looks more than fair, judged on the Chelmsford performance, especially as he is back on the sand, and goes up to 9.5 furlongs. Franny Norton is in the saddle, for this one ride only today.

Given the gelding has shown alertness from the gate I expect him to move forward from the #1 draw. There aren’t too many concerns about the trip on pedigree, so a positive ride shouldn’t compromise his chances.

A concern is the drift in the betting. But I reckon not many will truly have a grasp on what we get from this bunch today and I happily back him at what looks potentially generous odds.

10pts win – Smooth Ryder @ 6/1

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