Disappointing Friday. Both horses were well-backed. But that didn’t mean anything once the gates opened.
Elterwater was off the bridle pretty early, and after it looked briefly as if she could get involved, she fell rapidly away in the closing stages.
Shark Two One ran solid for a third place, but never looked like winning. I think I’ll stick with him for now as his revised mark gives him a good chance next time, I believe.
4.55 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
Sergeant Tibbs caught the eye a number of times in the last half year. He ran extremely well on the All-Weather in his last three runs at the end of 2022 before a break, without winning, though.
he made life difficult for himself on the sand, and in any case, is a better horse on turf.
He changed yards this spring, now trained by John Flint. He made his stable debut for the new yard at Windsor last month., which was also his seasonal reapperance and first run since December.
With that in mind, he finished a respectable 5th place, less than 4 lengths beaten, on heavy ground, having been closer ridden to a hot pace early on than the horses that finished ahead of him.
His next run at Goodwood can be marked up as well. He was probably found out for class, ultimately, but early keenness wasn’t any help. He still finished solid enough taking all that into account.
Those last two performances suggest he’s in pretty good form. The handicapper has been lenient, dropped him another 2lb.
Here at Ascot he can race off 70, takes a drop in class, down into an even easier race than the one at Windsor. He’s a tricky character and the lack of pace could be an issue. Nonetheless, he remains still lightly raced on turf, having ran well enough i most of his turf starts, most of those with cut in the ground.
Including a Handicap win off 77 last May, when he also ran to an 82 speed rating. Therefore, he could be seriously well-handicapped in this field as soft ground isn’t a worry.
10pts win – Sergeant Tibbs @ 15/2
8.10 Leicester: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
Veteran Eponina looks to have found an ideal opportunity to score. She won this race twelve month ago off a 2lb lower mark, ran to a 66 speed rating that day, and followed up weeks later with a win and head beaten 2nd off 69 and 70 ratings.
She clearly is on a good mark, although, not one where she has tons in hand. But she is in super form, there’s no doubt. She was well-backed last week at Beverley, and ran really well.
Eponina grabbed the lead, although was closely followed all the time. She was a bit keen in the first half of the race and came under severe pressure entering the home straight. I was impressed how gutsy she was, answering the calls for effort and focus.
The drop to 7 furlongs on soft ground should be in her favour, as should be her return to Leicester.
Her experience will be an asset in this race against a bunch of inexperienced 3-year-olds. This is still the time when the elder should have a distinct advantage, regardless of WFA.
The favourite Albeseeingyer is on five-timer. She ran a good speed rating when she won the last time, and could still be progressive enough to overcome her revised mark. But this is better grade and Eponina certainly a tougher rival to beat.
Backing 9-year-old mares isn’t my cup of tea normally, but I feel she could prove too good for this field off her current mark, and represents sufficient value at current prices.
10pts win – Eponina @ 5/1