2023 started with a bang as Toplight won in comfortable style his race at Wolverhampton in the evening.
The 10/1 looked massive in the end; in fact, he went off the 5/2 favourite. 10’s were still widely available in the morning, before the money came in truckloads.
He was obviously on a going day and the race itself couldn’t have worked out any better. I mentioned as much in my preview:
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.
In contrast to the smooth run Toplight enjoyed, my second selection – Expert Opinion – didn’t get the race he needed. He was well backed, but was slightly hampered soon after the start, was lit up and looked once again awkward around the bend.
1.50 Newcastle: Classified Stakes, 7f
Less than a handful of horses have a realistic chance in this poor Classifified Stakes. One of those is the short priced favourite Inaam. Although, he makes the least appeal of those better fancied runners.
Of course if the money is on you have to take notice, the handbrake may be off and he could improve dramatically. But he’s a 10 year old. Happy to take him on.
Hardy sets the standard thanks to his course and distance win from last October. He’s been poor ever since but will find this horrible race much easier.
Nonetheless, better value as double the price is Lucky Lucky Lucky. I backed him two runs ago at Southwell after he showed glimpses of enthusiasm at Newcastle prior.
This Southwell 7f performance is the strongest most recent and relevant performance in this field and gives him a cracking chance in a much easier contest to land a first victory.
He finished really well that day, not being favoured by his racing position as the race was dominated by those in front of him. He was the only one who really made significant progress from those travelling off the pace.
Possibly ridden too aggressive the next time as a countermeasure, he had no chance to stay a mile at Southwell when last seen, and dropped out badly. I rather judge him on the penultimate effort, as he drops down to 7 furlongs once again.
The pace scenario could work out really nicely for him I feel, not much will get in his way from his #13 draw, and he can get a nice lead into the final two furlongs by those that want to blast from the front.
10pts win – Lucky Lucky Lucky @ 9/1
2.50 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
I am delighted to see Tricky Business dropping down to six furlongs. I hope that is a sign that he is allowed to run on merit, on what will be his second run for the Dalgleish yard.
Last month on his debut for the yard he finished 17 lengths beaten but showed a lot of positive signs, actually. His enthusiasm was evident as he bounced out of the gate happily, rapidly moved forward to grab an uncontested lead, setting pretty good fractions.
He was beaten 2f out and fell completely away in the closing stages. Nothing that ran close to the pace was able to sustain an effort, though; everything came from off the pace .
He had no hope to stay a mile. Even 7 furlongs most likely is a stretch (despite his sole career win over the trip) . 6 furlongs is going to be his optimum.
He drops also significantly in class. From 0-65 into an 0-55. The right trip, lesser rivals, probably not too much other pace to fight off: he’s got to have a much better chance than the price.
Slight concern over the huge weight. Obviously he is top weight. His best performances came off lower weights and he doesn’t look to have the biggest frame from what I can tell. I am prepared to roll the dice, though.
10pts win – Tricky Business @ 12/1
5.30 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
John The Baptist caught the eye significantly last time out, which represented a return to some sort of form, after finishing in his last nine races either last or at best second last.
In fact since his maiden victory on debut, this was his first proper finish since summer 2021, then still trained in Ireland.
Nonetheless, the December run at this venue, then over 7 furlongs, was noteworthy for a variety of reasons:
He was under a drive early on to get into position, became outpaced from 4f out, lost many positions in the home straight when completely flat footed, until he rallied strongly in the final furlong to finish 4th, somewhere out of nowhere.
He is clearly a difficult sort, as evidence by headgear combination. But back up in trip to a mile, another 2lb lower, and dropping into 0-60 class there aren’t many in this field that appear well handicapped. John The Baptist clearly could be, as the handbrake goes off.
An #11 draw is not ideal, but he should be capable to overcome it and only two or three others want to be on the pace. The price is skinny, just about backable. Wouldn’t want to take a punt much shorter.
10pts win – John The Baptist @ 7/2
8.00 Kempton: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
Lost In Time was one the most impressive eyecatchers this winter, when he finished under light hands and heels ride much the fastest in a hot Handicap at Kempton in November.
That day he reared in the stall and as consequence was slowly away, settled in rear, and had loads to do from off the pace in a race where the pace wasn’t really on. He sliced his way through the field in impressive manner, without being hard ridden and then the last three furlongs fastest of all.
Second run off a break and for a new yard, showing a revival of form. However, the next two runs are a clear concern, especially the latest one, even though that was a somewhat strange race.
Hard to gauge whether he “lost confidence” as the trainer brought forward as explanation lately, or something else. In any case, he’s been dropped another 4lb in the ratings. On past performances he is absolutely well handicapped.
He achieved three 77+ speed ratings, although these date back some time now, but more recently, he ran to 66 and 68 speed ratings, which would give him an excellent shot to win here, if in the same sort of form.
10pts win – Lost In Time @ 14.5/1