With Respect was a huge eyecatcher the last two times as he appears to be in superb form.
Two starts ago at Salisbury he was heavily bumped by a rival as they jumped out of the gates, as he wasn’t helped by his own awkwardness, either. He then travelled strongly against the inside rail, made good progress and would have probably won, I presume, if he would have got a clear run.
He only got out late, switched, found momentum again and finished strongly. He ran to a 70 speed rating equal to his mark on the day and he makes plenty of appeal off 2lb higher the next time on turf. However, he ran at Kempton’s polytrack instead, a fortnight ago, over 7 furlongs.
He was disadvantaged from the #10 draw right from the start, and didn’t help the matter getting away from it awkwardly. He settled well off the pace, travelled a bit keenly, especially around the bend, but made tremendous progress from 3f out.
He finished best over the final three furlongs, but had too much do to get into a position to challenge, hence he wasn’t able to quite sustain his effort.
He’s yet to win over 7 furlongs and there’s a fair question mark looming over his ability to stay the trip. However, he showed in the past that he can finish very strongly over 6 furlongs, even on deep ground, so it’s worth a chance.
I think off 67 he’s potentially well-handicapped in this class, if he gets home and can get a clear run. The better draw should be a help, and there’s not much competition in this field that gives the impression to be well-handicapped.
In this big field getting a run may be the biggest challenge, in fact. He’s allowed to run off 5lb lower than his current turf mark and to me seems as good on sand as on turf.
10pts win – With Respect @ 13/2
8.45 Ripon: Class 5 Handicap, 5f
Albegone must have a major chance as he drops down in class and has a good draw to get a position close to the the inside rail, after he ran a huge race last time out at Carlisle.
There he set a hot pace from the front and travelled strongly until getting understandably quite tired from over 1f out to finish 4th eventually as he got swamped late.
That should be good form I reckon. The way he travelled for so long was eyecatching. He’s clearly down to a very fine mark as the handicapper dropped him another 2lb.
Even though he’s best with ease in the ground, he’s competitive on fast ground too. After two placed efforts from three runs over this course and distance in the past, a victory looks a strong possibility here.
A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing. Find all previous eyecatchers here.
Lil Guff 22/05/23 – 5.00 Windsor:
Settled in rear against the inside rail, before gradually moving over to the other side, travelling well, but not getting a run through over one furlong out, when she tried to progress on the widest outside, with a shifting rival not helping to get clear passage there either.
Finished a fine 3rd. Fast ground, minimum trip not ideal. All best career performances over 6 furlongs, and enjoys less lively ground too. Down to a good mark, won off 76 and 82 last summer.
A 76 speed rating here and 79 speed rating in April suggest she’s in the same form now. Ideally want to see her up in trip, though.
Sluggish start, recovered and went forward to lead at a red hot pace. Found plenty under pressure and only late beaten by two from off the pace.
Good speed rating, which is believable. Ran to near similar speed rating a month earlier on the All-Weather. Definitely in good form but has issues and the hood didn’t seem to help. Would stay a mile if he could settle.
Jury is out how much he’s got in hand these days, but worth another try over 7 furlongs as he has been dropped 2lb by the handicapper for this fine effort.
Caught seriously wide from #14 draw. Did a lot to cross over and get into a position where she tracked the hot pace. Some progress in the home straight before getting tired and also hampered 1f out.
Ran better than bare form lto on Handicap debut as well. Not ridden with intend to obtain best result last two times. The game is in the name…. down to 50 now interesting, if handbrake is off, especially with any support in the betting.
Travelled like a dream in midfield, well covered. Came through strongly, hard on the bridle, going through a gap over 2 furlongs out. Was eventually outkicked and not had the speed to go with the winner but ran on well.
Has the pedigree to improve beyond six furlongs. Will be of serious interest up in trip if she can settle. Has won and ran well over sprint trips already. The way she travelles suggests there’s talent better than a 78 OR.
Forced to settle off the pace the way the race developed. Was going well but had to wait for room as no gap opened late. Finished best in the final furlong.
Clear return to form after some lesser efforts on the All-Weather. Did well on the sand during winter, though. Down to sexy mark and not out of it on turf either, despite 0/5 record. Never expected in those runs but clearly handles fast ground.
Quickly restraint in rear of the field against the inside rail. Was going pretty well but progress stopped as he was stuck behind a wall of horses, short of room and hampered from two furlongs until late before in the clear inside the final furlong and finished nicely.
Only slowly drops in the mark. Effective over a variety of sprint trips and acts on nearly all ground. Not tremendously well-handicapped but placed off higher and may not be far off a big run if allowed to run on merit.
Swerved to his left out of the gate then settled in midfield. Travelled strongly on the bridle over 2f out behind horses but had to wait for room and switch to the inside for a run. Finished best.
Started the first two furlongs & finished the final furlong faster than the the first two home (fastest final furlong). May not truly stay 1m and would ideally drop to 7f. Lightly raced, good speed rating here as well.
Tracked the pace against the inside rail for most of the race until the two groups merged. He found himself shot of room multiple times and only late was able to get properly into the clear to finish strongly.
Strong form. Ran to 80 speed rating. Seemed to enjoy the decent ground and has responded for blinkers the last two. Showed promise as a juvenile. Clearly better than what he has shown up to now.
If he’s kept in handicap company he’ll be well-handicapped. Move up in trip is certainly preferable.
Travelled in midfield, not going smoothly, niggled along, possibly found the pace over 7f on fastish ground too hot. Kept going well, though. Not clear run over 2f out and slightly hampered over 1f out.
Handicap debut and should be better than this. Decent speed rating. Should move up in trip again and dangerous off 87 on decent ground.
His chances were compromised from the wide draw. He didn’t get in to find cover and as a consequence always travelled three wide, mostly without cover, off the pace. Travelled well and made good progress from over 3f out before getting tired in the final furlong.
May not quite stay a mile. 7f most likely ideal. Impressive win as a juvenile. High enough mark but deserves chance over 7f. He usually can go forward. Deserves chance in easier race.
Off to a good start, tracked pace keenly early on. Travelled well enough before he became a bit flat footed over 2 furlongs out as the sedate pace increased. Lost ground but stamina kicked in and he flew home the final furlong.
Could enjoy moving up in trip if the pace is solid. Smart prospect and may be underestimated because his profile isn’t that sexy, especially after his Dubai flop.
Flew down the first half of the race, was over a full second faster to the 3f marker than the eventual winner. Gradually tired but was game to the line.
Bumped into a well-handicapped one on seasonal reappearance lto. Can get home but more often than not 7f is a stretch, probably best over 6f. down to solid mark and clearly in form a pound below his last winning mark.
Set off very fast, going sprinter pace the first few furlongs, as part of a duo. Kept going well, still ahead 1f out, swamped late. huge run and return to form. down to sexy mark, judged on last season.
Should be strong form. Winner was well-handicapped. Would be most interesting for drop to 7f, even though he stays further, a mile with little pace competition could also be interesting.
Tracked the pace on far side, quite prominently ridden. Travelled well to 2f out but couldn’t quite keep up the effort in the closing stages. Did best of those low drawn, which is often a disadvantage over this CD.
Career-best on speed ratings, as low as that is. 7f on fast ground ideal and interesting in a similarly poor race when she has a good draw.
Dwelt and awkward out of the gate. Settled in midfield, bumped into rival before the first turn. Made progress and found a route through to challenge, though the winner was long gone. Ran on well.
Confirmed lto promise. Down to fine mark. Best on decent ground (ideally no worse than yielding), so could be intriguing on a more conventional track if the dry spell continues. However, can have issues at the gate.
A finish dominated by those ridden with restraint. Which was somewhat surprising, because they didn’t go too hard in the first half of the race, with a finishing speed of 116% for the winner, Auguste Rodin (the par for the Derby distance at Epsom is around 111%) not quite telling the tale, perhaps.
King Of Steel raced the closest to the pace from those who made any impact in the closing stages. He travelled pretty well in midfield and kicked on strongly from over 3f out, before being outstayed in the final furlong by the Aiden O’Brien trained colt.
White Birch came from very far back and made great progress on the outside in the home straight. He’s an obvious eyecatcher in that sense. However, there a couple of others who interest me more for the future.
Sprewell is probably the one who left the biggest impression on me. I was certainly not overly keen on him beforehand, but he certainly confirmed his huge talent in the Derby.
It was his fifth career start, but the first time going over the Derby trip. He looked still a bit keen and perhaps green at various stages of the race, hence the fact he finished so well in 4th, without ever appearing with a shot of winning, truth told, is noteworthy.
He found himself short of room at a crucial stage of the race over 2.5f out, though. Subsequently he got badly unbalanced, yet found his momentum quickly again and ran on before his stamina ran out in the final furlong.
Fast ground clearly wasn’t an issue. But the Derby trip may stretch his stamina, especially in a properly run race. However, he has shown his class over 10 furlongs already. That looks his trip. He’s one I’ll track.
Waipiro endured a disaster run. he dwelt, was then caught behind a wall of horses, trailed the field and had to come around wide for a run.
He made excellent progress from 4f out around Tattenham Corner, before his effort fizzled out from 2f out. He probably didn’t get the trip. Though, I thought the confirmed the promise he showed at Newmarket and at Lingfield.
Whether he’s a genuine Group 1 horse remains to be seen. He could be underestimated if he drops down to 10 furlongs, though.
Artistic Star ran a race of two halves, so to speak. Initially I was disappointed with his run. I backed him, and thought he would do much better than a 11 lengths beaten 7th place.
However, he ran a race full of promise. After a solid start he didn’t travel well, niggled at various stages. Perhaps inexperience in such a big, tight field was to blame.
Three furlongs from home he was relegated to last even, before the penny seemed to drop and he motored home in the 4rd fastest final 3f split to pass many tired horses.
He’ll have learned plenty and remains at this stage an exciting prospect after two excellent career performances prior where he ran strong speed ratings for an inexperienced horse.
Whether he’s Group 1 class remains to be seen. His siblings were smart horses but not quite top-notchers. He looks to stay the Derby distance, much like they did, though.
Stay Smart did well to win at Ayr as he held on by a head. He was all out after setting a seriously hot pace and showed great attitude to get home at 3/1 SP.
Rule 4 hurt me here, though. Yet, I was relived. A winner, and any losses minimized for the day, no matter what.
Cuban Breeze was the one I fancied most to provide a second winner. He finished a gallant second but didn’t have enough early speed to get to the lead which went Aberama Gold’s way who went wire to to wire, instead. Perhaps I was too optimistic about Cuban Breeze’s early pace against another seriously fast starter.
Late Arrival never stood a chance from his draw and perhaps I should have seen that coming. I glanced too quickly over this major negative. Hopefully he can come good the next time.
Folk Star finished 3rd but never looked like winning. She didn’t get a run at a crucial stage and didn’t have the change of gear from off the pace. My Mate Mike was withdrawn after he broke through the gate.
3.30 Leicester: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
Is Makeen too obvious to be true? Only the blind could have missed the hugely eyecatching performance at Newmarket last month.
He traveled strongly behind a wall of horses for much of the race. Waited for room until very late when switched to the inside and ran on easily for third with the fastest final furlong split.
It was a near career-best effort without a clear run. What is clear: the gelding is in peak form. In saying that, he wouldn’t be obviously well-handicapped on ratings.
But it seems clear that 7 furlongs on fast ground could be an ideal scenario for him. He didn’t have many chances of this sort, yet. Is there some improvement left in these conditions? Possibly.
In any case, he should be not left on a mark off 80 after that last run. The 3lb claim of Ryan Sexton is the cherry on the cake in a race where there isn’t too much to fear in terms of rivals to beat, even though he moves up in to 0-85.
10pts win Makeen @ 7/2
5.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
Regal Glory returns to what may well be her optimum trip and track and looks ready to strike thanks to a lowered mark and a good draw to find a handy position in the field.
The filly caught numerous times the eye in the last few weeks and months. She achieved an excellent 57 speed rating off a 51 mark in November over this CD. She followed up with a couple of strong efforts, especially the February 3rd place here once again caught my eye.
Her subsequent runs were better than the bare form, but it’s her latest run over 6f here at Lingfield only five days ago that may rate as her strongest yet.
From a wide draw she travelled in rear, made strong progress on the wide outside, turned wide and yet finished strongly.
She drops to a 50 OR now – she won off the same mark last November over this course and distance – has the #4 draw to attack the race from, over 7 furlongs at Lingfield. Huge chance to add a second CD success to her name.
Gutsy Eponina at Nottingham. She made all and kept going and going to win well (5/1 SP). After drawing a blank on Saturday this was needed. Unfortunately there was no additional winner to be added on Sunday.
Greatgadian was beaten by the draw. No chance from his position as he settled at the back of the field and had to quicken from well off the pace in a sprint finish. A great effort to finish 3rd, though.
Continuous was a major disappointment in the Prix Du Jockey Club. He didn’t have any excuses, though. He was in a good position, got there easily and simply wasn’t good enough on the day.
A good first June week. Three winners. Too good to be true? On to Monday… I’m always am nervous when having so many bets in a single day as on this Monday. But they were all significant eyecatchers and appear overpriced.
If one goes in all is well, happy days. If they all get beaten, a realistic prospect, it’s getting ugly quickly. Joy and despair are can be separated by inches in this game.
4.00 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Hail Sezer was a huge eyecatcher last time out and hasn’t been too harshly penalised for a nose beaten 2nd place. He’s clearly in fine form and should run a huge race.
At prices I must go with Late Arrival, though, who caught the eye the last time at Pontefract, as he followed on from a hugely encouraging seasonal reappearance at Haydock.
Ten days ago at Pontefract over 5 furlongs he had a quick start, tracked the pace but came under pressure from over 2f out and seemed to go backwards before coming back and staying well to the line.
Another strong performance and form behind a very strong winner. He’s better over 6 furlongs, though, especially on fast ground.
Therefore moving back up in trip, while dropping into an easier grade, he’s dangerous after having been eased another pound. He ran to 70 and 71 speed ratings last season and looks in similar form, clearly ready for another big performance off 69.
10pts win – Late Arrival 15/2
4.15 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Stay Smart ran a huge race on Saturday at Musselburgh. He was bumped at the start quite badly, and had to play catch-up as a consequence. He travelled wide on the outside where he made tremendous progress to challenge the leader, but understandably tired in the final furlong to fall back.
He confirmed the promise shown over this course and distance last month when he raced from the front and also achieved a good speed rating, the best in over 1.5 years. That performance warranted an upgrade too, in my book:
He moved quickly forward and led the field at a good pace. He travelled well and found plenty for pressure from 2f out. Ultimately he was only beaten inside the final furlong by two ridden with more restraint.
Stay Smart had a tough time since losing his form in early 2022. He changed yards, tumbled down the weights and has been gelded and had a wind operation. He appears to be in excellent shape now, though, and looks the one to beat with a clear run.
10pts win – Stay Smart @ 7/2
4.30 Thirsk: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f
Obviously Lady Rascal is of interest as she moves up in trip. 1m 4f will suit her really well. She got off the mark in fine style over ten furlongs recently after a strong handicap debut.
She is one of my Handicappers to follow this year, but so is Folk Star. Lady Rascal could be well-handicapped today, yet on prices Folk Star makes plenty of appeal (for the moment, money is coming already) as she makes her handicap debut and moves up right away to the correct trip for her.
She had two lovely runs of educational matter as a juvenile where she looked much better than the bare results. She was never asked a question, yet finished nicely, especially at Yarmouth.
Her seasonal reappearance in April over a mile in deep ground can be safely ignored form wise. The 1m trip, also possibly ground was not right and it counted simply as a pipe opener. With that she qualified for a mark off 64 and that could underestimate her as she moves up significantly in trip.
Folk Star is a May foal and has plenty of scope to improve, especially as she moves up in distance. She’s beautifully bred, with plenty of stamina on dam side; the mare improved with time as well.
Le Have offspring improves with age too. His 3yo’s have a 21% strike rate overall (A/E 1.2) in Handicaps. Not sure whether the track and fast ground will suit, but let’s find out.
10pts win – Folk Star @ 4/1
5.45 Windsor: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Big R is the one to beat. Most likely I wasn’t the only one who wanted to hit something really hard after he finished a desperately unlucky second last Saturday.
He’s only 1lb higher and has a massive shout. Again, at given prices, it’s another eyecatcher I’ll side with, though.
My Mate Mike moved quickly forward to lead at Salisbury when last seen as he dropped down to 6 furlongs. He showed solid early speed and clearly did too much in the first half of the race. I thought he did really well to hold on for third.
That was a strong race and form for the level of race. There were multiple lto winners and horses in strong form in the field.
As he gets another chance over 6 furlongs here having been dropped 1lb as well I feel this lightly raced gelding could be underestimated.
10pts win – My Mate Mike @ 9/1
7.30 Wolverhampton: Class 4 Handicap, 6f
Hot and competitive race with a solid pace certain. You can make a case for many, though, off 81 Cuban Breeze appears tremendously well-handicapped, especially as she ran pretty well when last see at Windsor.
She made too much there from the front in deep conditions but confirmed some of the positive signs he showed in most of her more recent runs.
She drops down to class 4 and lost another 2lb, with that she 4lb lower than her last winning mark, albeit that came on turf. Cuban Breeze is as good on the All-Weather, though.
She enjoys this course and distance, although perhaps 6 furlongs is the absolute maximum of her stamina. That’s a worry in a fast race here.
On the other hand, I feel from her #3 draw, despite plenty of potential pace pressure, her early speed could see her establish a lead and she could go all the way then.
Imperial Khan won his race in fine style at Beverley on Wednesday. A no-nonsense ride by Laura Coughlin this time gave the gelding a very first career win.
Soul Seeker, in contrast, emptied quickly and was pretty disappointing, he was also a drifter in the betting beforehand. And yet, if you would have put a gun to my head, he’d have been my NAP today.
No complaints: it was a positive ending to May, no matter what.
170pts profit, 8 winners, 32% ROI.
Third green months in a row. After a shaky start to the 2023 the P/L sheet shows a healthy profit: 470pts.
I changed tack slightly in May: going more aggressively after selections, backing in the work done through the eyecatchers and showing a little less restraint in always waiting for the absolute perfect conditions for the horses I want to back.
53 selections later and a green months means that has worked. Only on the surface, though. Ultimately, I relied on a big price to come in to save the day… or the month, so to speak.
Finding the right balance will decide over success and failure for the rest of the year. I have to reign it in a little bit, without going back to that ultra-conservative approach of the past, which worked, but didn’t capitalise on all the effort that goes into the eyecatchers in first place.
As always it’s a constant process of optimisation. Shaping and re-shaping the process. Learning from the experience of others and being open to new ideas.
The details on all selections can be found as always in the Betting P&L.
3.12 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Victors Dream was somewhat unfortunate a week ago at Wolverhampton and should be able to make amends off a similar mark here.
That day he had to overcome the widest draw and settled in rear, both a disadvantage in that race. He travelled strongly into the home straight, though had too much to do against front-running winner and also had give ground away all the time.
He finished much the best and achieved a strong 58 speed rating on what was his handicap debut. It was a significant improvement on everything he had done in three starts prior.
In any case, the gelding looks clearly ready to win off a 60 mark, especially with a low draw to attack the race from as he also drops into a slightly easier race.
10pts win – Victors Dream @ 3/1
5.00 Yarmouth: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
How often can a horse catch the eye before you have to conclude he’s just not a genuine type? Let’s find out because Flying Secret is one of those notorious horses that attracts the comment “Eyecatcher” frequently.
It’s fair to say it was another eye-catching run on his seasonal reappearance at Chelmsford last month. He clearly wasn’t there to win but showed plenty enough to suggest he’s in shape.
The only surprise was see him run over 7 furlongs there. It’s a trip I believe is going to prove his optimum when the handbrake is off. He tried a number of times over 6 furlongs last season, when he was sometimes caught out for speed, other times bumped into well-handicapped rivals.
Whether he’s here to try remains to be seen. The Yard has a poor spell and Charles Bishop even gets odds-on shots beaten at the moment.
But if he’s here to win then I think off 71 on fast ground in class 5 over 7f he’s at least a solid win ahead of the handicapper. This is easier than most races he ran so well in over the last twelve month also.
A list of horses that caught my eye during the recent weeks of racing. Find all previous lists here.
Thaki 08/05/23 – 8.45 Newcastle:
Drawn away from the pace, awkward start, trailed and had a wall of horses to pass over two furlongs out. Picked his way through to field as he quickened nicely, before getting quite tired in the final furlong.
Ran well prior at Ayr as well in a good race where the winner was well-handicapped. Not the best starter. Won off 67 on the All-Weather and a neck beaten off 65 back in March. Ran well nto in hot class 4 race as well, but possibly not quite up to that level.
Down to 63 on a good mark. Has scope on turf, especially on decent ground placed 4 of 6 and may be underestimated there without a W on turf yet, though.
Crossed over quickly from a wide draw to lead, although always pestered and pressured. Travelled well but ultimately beaten by a well-handicapped winner from off the pace.
Two good runs since return from a break. Showed promise as a juvenile, ran to 63 speed rating. Doubtful that he stays beyond 7 furlongs. Full-brother did his best work over 6f and won over the minimum trip as well.
Possibly scope for some improvement if he drops in trip, on fast ground on turf. In other circumstances probably found his ceiling.
Tracked hot early pace. Did way too much too soon and also quite keen. Impressive how he was still able to kick on and challenge for the win, less than two lengths beaten in 3rd eventually.
Bit unfortunate lto at Chelmsford. Strong run there too. Ran 75 speed rating here, which was also a hot race for the grade. May not stay a mile, but looks clearly capable to win off current mark and should be some pounds better.
Settled off the pace, which was a disadvantage. Had loads to do 3f out and finished wide. Came home much the strongest, the only one who ran sub 12s the final furlong.
Must be in good form now. Down to sexy mark. Would be really interesting on fast turf as he may be underestimated there due to his record. However he runs well in those conditions, now 11lb lower than when last seen on turf.
Travelled quite well for a long time. Solid progress from 2f out, challenged the long-term leader. Got pretty tired in the final furlong.
Probably strong form and run due to the winner and second. Left on the same mark. Interesting on better ground. Dam did all her best work on soft but sire was tp-class on fast. He doesn’t seem to have a high knee action.
If the ground can bring out improvement he’ll be well-handicapped. Wouldn’t rule out a drop in trip either.
Tracked the pace throughout. Was going well and looked like coming with a big challenge from 2f out. Jockey seemed to keep waiting and waiting before asking for all, riding hands and heels. Suddenly it was too late as things became really tight in the final furlong and the horse was squeezed out.
With a clear run would have gone seriously close. Has been dropped 2lb in the meantime. Down to a career-lowest and obvious interest the next time.
Tracked the pace closely in second place. Challenged leader from over 2f out and possibly ahead at final furlong marker. Horses from further back got the better of him eventually. Strong run and probably strong form.
Had wind operation prior. Down to good 63 mark and can win in possibly slightly less competitive race. Better over 5f and may prefer AW surface but didn’t have too many opportunity over the minimum trip on fast ground, which bay be ideal.
Traveled strongly behind a wall of horses for much of the race. Waited for room until very late when switched to the inside and ran on easily for third.
Near career-best effort without a clear run. Clearly in peak form. Otherwise not obviously well-handicapped. But interesting if turned out within the next two weeks, ideally on fast ground.
Probably 7f ideal and is then pretty ground independent, but clearly stays a mile too, especially on fast ground if the pace isn’t all out. If he doesn’t return soon under ideal conditions soon, one to keep in mind to see if he can drop a couple of pounds and wait for the money to arrive.
Moved quickly forward to lead, setting a hot pace. Clearly did too much in the first half of the race. Did well to hold on for third.
Strong race and form. Multiple lto winners and horses in strong form in the field. has been given an opportunity by the handicapper as dropped 1lb subsequently. Lightly raced and deserves a chance over 6f.
Move forward from the outside draw to push the pace. Was there until very late in the day.
Perhaps slightly flattered by the way the race developed but it wasn’t an advantage on the day to go from the low gates. Clear return to form. Dropped a pound for this. Chance given over minimum trip and all ground.
Birdie Bowers finally gets his conditions and he should be capable of much better than the price suggest. On turf he clearly needs better ground to be seen to best effect, and he gets it here.
The majority of his last runs were quite good and noteworthy, especially those on turf in softish conditions, including this course and distance, when he also ran a solid speed rating.
He confirmed his well-being with a good effort in competitive Handicap at Newcastle where 6f and the stiff finish were stretching him too much after going a strong pace as well.
He continues to fall in the ratings, can race now off 2lb lower than his last winning mark, when he won at Beverley on decent ground last August off 51.
10pts win – Birdie Bowers @ 12/1
3.40 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Favourite Ghost Lights is obvious interest as one of my eyecatchers. However, I feel he is better over 7 furlongs and is short enough a price to take on, with that in mind.
Azaim is another one who caught the eye – last time out at Musselburgh: after a sluggish first furlong he pushed forward to lead at a seriously fast pace, certainly in the first half of the race, before he fell away rapidly from over 2f out.
This was also a hot race with first and second very well-handicapped, hence the performance warrants an upgrade.
He doesn’t stay 7 furlongs, and neither did he have a chance to get home in the majority of his recent races. Still lightly enough raced, he’s an intriguing runner as he drops down to 6f.
10pts win – Azaim @ 9/1
4.10 Catterick: Class 6 Handicap 6f
I’m interested in Captain Kirkup after his recent run but probably these aren’t his ideal conditions, so worth to wait for another day. However Lezardrieux showed great form the last two runs and has a strong chance here.
On his penultimate run at Newcastle he went really hard from the front, set a strong pace and travelled strongly. he was challenged from 2f out but remained in front until fading late.
It was a strong race with a good speed rating and it was noteworthy that he was able to follow up next time at Catterick with another strong run .
He was rather unfortunate as it was quite tight around the first bend and he was repeatedly short of room in the home straight, though.
This is a hot enough contest, but he’s got a good draw and is clearly in excellent form, ready to win.
10pts win – Lezardrieux @ 11/2
7.52 Chelmsford: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
Love Destiny has been running better in recent weeks than the bare form would tell. He caught the eye at Kempton in March the way he stayed on after being seemingly beaten and I thought he travelled seriously well last time over this CD before going backwards.
He dropped dramatically in the weights and finds himself in a race today that could be set up perfectly for him. There isn’t much pace to compete with, so Atzeni could move quickly forward to try and steel it.
With first-time blinkers applied over Love Destiny’s preferred course and distance – he’s two from three here – he looks seriously overpriced.
I can easily rule out the vast majority of this field on price or conditions. But I do end up with my two eyecatchers left – Master Sully and I’m Mable – and struggle to develop any preference.
Both geldings are completely wrong prices here in my view and I feel they both have better chances to win the race than their prices would tell. Hence this calls for the rare measure that I split my stake.
Both lads have their quirks, and that’s the reason why they find themselves in this poor 0-55 contest. I’m Mable is top-rated, and clearly better than this grade, if on a going day.
He drops in grade here, and has shown significant improvement in his latest runs, suggesting he’s in strong form and ready for a big run.
I loved his latest Lingfield effort when he travelled strongly on the bridle as he approached the home straight but went widest and lost ground. He cam home strongly.
He was somewhat unfortunate on his penultimate run as well. He can make a mess at the gate, though. And 5.5f in combination with rattling fast ground is a bit of a question mark given his best turf form comes over 5f on soft. But he has shown to handle these conditions, and I can see him finish strongly from off the pace.
Master Sully is not a talented individual but he’s a bit better than a 46 rating. He won a Conditions Stakes in January and followed up with a number of solid efforts in defeat.
His last three runs all caught the eye for numerous reasons, suggesting he is in good form. A switch to turf may do the trick. He’s still rather lightly raced on turf, but ran pretty well on three occasions last season from 5-6f on a variety of ground conditions.
His best turf effort cam on fast ground and he was a bit unlucky over this CD last September. He can have his own issues at the gate, but if gets away alright I reckon he should be a solid victory ahead of his turf mark right now.
Mudlahhim sets high enough standard for this grade after latest impressive 3rd place effort over this same course and distance, less than two weeks ago.
If he has recovered from that huge performance, he’s certain to go close as he ran to an excellent 59 speed rating in line with his current mark.
He moved quickly forward to establish a solid lead and set a decent pace. I quite liked that he was able to kick on from halfway through the race, before gradually tiering from 2f out, beaten by a well-handicapped winner in the closing stages.
He must be in strong form, as evidence a number of times prior in this sort of grade. He didn’t land a blow in a class 5 at Southwell, but also his 3rd place three runs back over 8.5f rates a strong performance.
He shouldn’t face too much pace pressure here. If they allow him to establish a soft lead he’d be hard to get back to.
Bobby Joe Leg appears to be a solid favourite given he ran seriously well over 7f on the All-Weather the last two times, having achieved strong speed ratings as well.
He’s clearly handicapped to win, yet seems to find way to get beaten. He may bump into another even better handicapped rival once again today.
Nefarious caught my eye at Lingfield in March for the first time. That day he clearly wasn’t in it to win it, received an uneconomical ride, but showed glimmers of ability when quickening under a light enough ride from 3f out to the final furlong post.
Back up in trip the next two times, he ran much better than the bare form would suggest; first at Kempton and subsequently at Lingfield, outrunning big odds.
Having dropped to a career-lowest 58 mark, he looks dangerous if he could move forward from his #6 draw in a highly winnable race with not too much pace on.
Other than the aforementioned favourite, there isn’t much depth in this field.
Hollie Doyle is booked, which should be a bonus. Perhaps that’s the sign he’s here to run on merit. It looks a good opportunity to score, if allowed to run with the handbrake off.
Widest draw was probably a disadvantage as was travelling on the stands’ side. Made strong progress from 3f out against stands’ rail and finished best of that group.
Huge run in circumstances, confirmed strong AW form, also was a bit unlucky lto. Looks on a possibly lenient turf mark in the right conditions, compared to AW as he’s not 10lb worse judged on speed ratings.
He prefers better ground to be seen to best effect. Didn’t enjoyed these conditions this season yet. Does stay 6f but probably best over shorter.
Badly bumped and squeezed out of the gate by two rivals, trailed as a consequence. Wall of horses in front and had to switch wide to the far side, giving ground and momentum away. Came through well from over 1f out.
Strong run in circumstances. Ran with credit on the All-Weather this year before. Comes down to solid mark. Not tons in hand but ran to 68, 69 and 71 speed ratings since August last year.
Any additional help from the handicapper will bue valuable. He’s better over the minimum trip, and prefers decent ground. Not disgraced at Newcastle on Tuesday off 69.
Travelled quite well on stands’ side, which was potentially not ideal being high drawn in this race, as was away from where the pace developed. Travelled strongly to 2f out before effort petered out.
Reportedly made a respiratory noise afterwards, that may explain the tame finish, although he wasn’t advantaged by the way the race developed in any way.
Small risk whether all is fine with him, but in any case another 2lb down and well-handicapped now. Ran solid on the All-Weather before, somewhat unfortunate. Achieved speed ratings last season that will give him a huge chance wherever he goes, if healthy.
Moved forward from #9 draw to closely follow the pace. Pressed the leader from 3f out and couple of lengths ahead before swamped. Accepted challenge and stuck strongly to the task to hold on for 2nd place.
Strong run and speed rating only 2lb shy of current mark, which was left untouched. Given great opportunity if he can find a handicap over a mile in proper soft ground as still somewhat unexposed in these conditions which seemingly bring out the best in him.
Can ignore hurdle and All-Weather form; he looks potentially well-handicapped off 70 in the right conditions.
Fell out of the gate. Overcame his highly awkward start quickly, as moved forward rapidly to lead after the first furlong even. Did way too much to get there but only fell away from from over a furlong out.
Strong run in circumstances and clearly better than result. Won when last seen in 2022. Full-brother to Group 3 winning miler. Should have no issues going up in trip.
Opening mark no giveaway, but could have a couple of pounds ahead if he moves up to 6 furlongs.
First bumped, then squeezed out soon after the start. Stumbled after the first furlong. Got going again but ultimately never stood a chance. Better than this as he caught the eye at Lingfield before as well when turning very wide but finished well enough.
Not much scope but chance off 47, especially on turf, 5f on decent ground. Some strong performances last year, especially when out of the handicap off 51 at Ffos Las.
Ran twice to 48 speed rating, latest in January. Looks like he’s in the same sort of form as his best from 2022, hence should have a few pounds ahead now.
Overcame widest draw quickly to dispute lead all the way while travelling wide, giving ground away. Hit the front just about with 1.5f to go before getting swallowed for good by two ridden with more restraint. Saddle slipped late, too.
Lightly raced. May enjoy better ground. Good run and interesting off current mark over 6f on decent ground, probably does also enjoy galloping track more than tight ones.
Seriously keen throughout the race, but strongly travelling into the home straight. Tremendous visual impression when let go as he moved forward stylishly from 2.5f out to hit the front in an instant. Markedly tired from over 1f out and caught late.
Often keen over 6f. Ran well number of times before. Achieved 62 speed rating here, hence likely to be ahead of mark, and should be if not too harshly treated by the handicapper after this. Has 5f entries next week. Intriguing over the minimum trip.
At disadvantage from the #8 gate. Caught wide and without cover early on, before settling at the back of the field. Good progress on outside from halfway stage. Nearly upside leaders over 1f out, before getting tired.
Comeback run and handicap debut. Huge performance against pace and track bias. Showed good early speed last year. May stay 7f on pedigree but 6f possibly ideal.
Was a cheap yearling but looks clearly better than opening 70 mark.
Awkward start, travelled strongly against the inside rail at the end of the field. Good progress but full effort delayed until he got out late to finish strongly.
Ran 70 speed rating equal to current mark. Caught the eye on the All-Weather before. Seems to be still improving and capable of winning, especially if not harshly assessed for this run by the handicapper.
Most likely prefers a bit of give in the ground, certainly no fast ground. Can be a bit tricky out of the gate but usually a strong traveller.
Tracked an honest pace, always going well. Not a clear run from 3f out when horses led across him and hindered him to move out for his effort. Accelerated well once in the clear, especially after he was close to the pace all the time, before getting tired and not given a hard time in the final furlong.
Won well lto. Looks progressive and could still be handicapped to win off 77, after running to 73 speed rating here in not ideal circumstances.
Tracked the pace early on, pretty keen through the race. Not a clear run in the home straight and had to delay full effort multiple times, also hung. Finished nicely under and easy ride in the final furlong.
Comeback run and gelded during his break. First try over a mile. Should get the trip easily if he can settle better. A drop to 7f shouldn’t be an issue, either. Should be competitive off a revised mark.
Prominent on the far side, travelled strongly, possibly going best. Got up late for 2nd place on his side, but no chance with winner on stands’ side, who was probably advantaged by racing on that side.
Up 2lb, more than fair. Ran to 70 speed rating here and 81 on AW last year. This form should be strong, every chance can progress and win next time. If not for racing from a wide draw lto at Dundalk her record could read even better.