Saturday Selections: 4th February 2023

It was lovely to start the month with a winner, as With Respect won it good style at Southwell on Thursday. Made me feel much better after some rough days.

I am quite excited for the weekend. Great racing is here to be enjoyed. First and foremost the Dublin Racing Festival, of course.

Unfortunately I’m not yet fit enough to attend. Was really looking forward to this weekend, having bought the weekend pass (€50 for two days of top-class action, monster value), but the TV and couch will do the job.

There is excellent racing on the Lingfield polytrack as well, and not to forget the Gauteng Guineas day over in South Africa!


3.36: Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f

Hill Station looks tremendously well-handicapped, if allowed to run on merit. Lingfield over 10 furlongs will suit, although this is a stronger race than the last two, at least on paper.

Digging a bit deeper this appears to be a pretty dire affair, though. Hill Station has quite strong recent form in the book, that stands out in this field.

Especially his penultimate run was huge on speed figures, but also on visuals. He was early up with the pace, however, got caught wide for the majority of the race. He still rallied strongly in the closing stages, to finish a brilliant 3rd.

He achieved a 63 speed rating, a career best, for this 10-race maiden. Although, he is still rather unexposed on the flat. He followed-up with another solid performance at Chelmsford over 10 furlongs, where he faded after running hard from the front and being caught in the closing stages.

The #8 draw isn’t ideal today, but there are about two other horses who want to go to the front, and they aren’t the speedy types. So there is a solid chance he can get to a handy position without wasting too much energy. Although there is always the danger he gets caught wide, nonetheless.

His sire has a poor record on the All-Weather, which is a concern. On the other hand, this is possibly a fact to negate, given Hill Station has proven he can perform well, within his limit, on the polytrack.

The jockey booking suggests Hill Station is here to give it a proper go. If that is so, I think he is a much better chance than the big price suggests ( 20/1 is available on Exchanges now; but I got to quote the price I got).

If he runs to the form from two starts back over this shorter trip, he’s going to be bang there.

10pts win – Hill Station @ 18/1


7.30 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f

Tricky contest to get a handle on, but I only have to get a handle on one horse here, and that is Mogok Valley. He clearly deserves another chance in this easier race, down in trip, than when last seen.

Granted, the drift in the betting this morning is a slight concern, but never let a drifter put you off a strong bet – said some smarter people than I ever will be.

Mogok Valley went off favourite in a 7 furlong contest at Southwell three weeks ago. I backed him on the day. On the surface it was a disappointing performance when he faded into a distant third of five in the closing stages.

However, he was probably just found out for class behind the clearly well-handicapped winner who has won subsequently again and ran with plenty of credit in class three thereafter also.

It was the right tactics to Glorious Angel on the day, who was the horse to beat. Mogok Valley tried to challenge him from three furlongs out, attempting go the same pace but as a consequence burned out and fell away in the final furlong.

In this easier grade today – certainly there is no horse of the class of Glorious Angel – he will find it easier, I reckon. The trip should be fine, with a solid pace expected, which will help him, as I still feel he could get an additional furlong.

I also must go back two runs back, when Mogok Valley caught the eye, what was then his handicap debut.

That day at Kempton over 6 furlongs he enjoyed a solid start, travelled nicely amongst a group of horses tracking the pace, before things started to heat up from over two furlongs out.

His acceleration wasn’t rapid and he had to switch to his right at the 2 furlong pole, and again when approaching the final furlong marker, in order for clear run. He also appeared to be a tiny bit disorganised, and that cost vital momentum.

The winner, who produced a stunning turn of foot from well off the pace against the inside rail, was long gone before Mogok Valley eventually rattled home in good style for a fine runner-up performance.

I still rate this as a strong performance, following on from a lovely comeback run over the minimum trip one month earlier.

The application of cheek-pieces today is intriguing. It could help him to be as alert as needed early on. He will have to be from the #6 draw, in order to move forward and settle right behind the lead, I hope. Otherwise he will be caught wide, or worse, has to settle off the pace.

There is clear risks attached, but also clear upside. He may not be good enough to win off this mark. Nonetheless, at this point in time he warrants enough potential to see him also being perhaps one win ahead of his mark, in this grade.

10pts win – Mogok Valley @ 9/1

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