Good morning all,
The wagon rolls on to Rolleston today, as I go back to the Fibresand to try and put some of Monday's learnings into action.
I don't tend to be on here much after Saturday morning, as you know, but Sunday's racing is pretty good this week and I had a look at it yesterday. My thoughts are on the main piece.
Mercers Court is having the time of his life at present, having won three of his last five (and gone close on the other two), and will be well fancied by many as he’s shown a liking for this track this season, but he only ran at Huntingdon on Tuesday and although he has been turned around quickly before, this might be asking a bit too much of him.
I was looking for Pickamix to take his place in the opening amateur riders handicap on Friday at Cheltenham but instead it looks like he might come here. A fourth of five behind Lil Rockerfeller at Prestbury Park last time doesn’t look that great on paper but it doesn’t tell the story as he jumped and travelled well in front (traded under 2-1 in running at the top of the hill) before getting a bit tired late on. He had a look round Fontwell last year when second to Adrien Du Pont, and handled the track fine, and with little rain due the ground should be ideal. He may have top weight but he’d be on my shortlist.
Doing Fine looks too well handicapped to leave out as well. He got a 3lb drop for what looks a dreadful effort at Cheltenham last time but the ground totally went against him and it’s best to put the red pen through that effort. If it stays quick, he must go close.
No Altior and instead we get Brain Power, which is a bit like saying Usain Bolt won’t be running due to illness and replacing him with Russ Abbot. I cannot get on board with any horse that has more letters than numbers in its form and I don’t care how much talent he has, or how well he supposedly works. He’s 3-1 for this. I’d want that for him to get round.
Sceau Royal looks likely to go off favourite and the smaller the field the happier he will be, with his last six wins all coming in single-figure fields. He was very good over fences last season and comes here a fresh horse, which is no bad thing. I just wonder whether he’s slightly happier on flatter tracks, but all the same he’s probably the one to beat.
Special Tiara is not getting any younger and the handicapper has him on the decline. He normally needs a run to put him straight as well, so 6-1 looks plenty skinny enough.
Le Prezien looks like he’s been lined up for this and his record here, albeit in handicap company, is difficult to knock. Ideally he’d want a drop of rain but he does go on good ground fine, and the quicker they go up front the better his chances.
And with that in mind, only a complete fool would rule out the super-tough Gino Trail, who may be 11 but had the season of his life last year, jumping boldly from the front and putting good horses to the sword. He desperately needs some rain to show his best though, and on that is one to back on the day if, by some chance, the rain does come.
Global Citizen got a really strong mention after his Ascot run from me, so much so I’ve had a few quid on for the Champion Hurdle as if he’s to earn his place in that, then he’ll be winnig a race such as this. We will find out more about where we are with him if he does run, but he’ll have his ground and if he acts as well here as he does flat tracks, he’s going to be a big player.
With Western Ryder surely wanting slower ground, Verdana Blue would be a big threat if showing her face after winning the Elite last week. She has a penalty to carry for that but is worth her place at the head of the market. The question again, as it is with a few here, is whether this track really suits her style – two runs here though good, are inconclusive as to whether she really gets up the hill – and at the price, I would rather look elsewhere for value.
If the rain came (at all!) Vado Forte would be mildly interesting. He was most progressive last year, travelling really well though his races and finding more than enough at the business end. It’s not hard to see the hurly-burly of this playing to his hold-up style, but will the ground simply be too quick? His comeback run at Chepstow was full of promise though, and whether it is here or somewhere else, there’s a good handicap to be won with him this season.
And of course, wait for the extra places and then back Man Of Plenty each-way. I didn’t need to tell you that though, did I? He’ll be flying home for, ooh, let’s say, fifth. As he did last time when he was still last two out….
Both selections this week have run like drains but the enormous drift on Cookie Ring before his race last night was more than ominous, I'd say. I'm more hopeful of a decent run from Limerick Lord in the first at Southwell, the 12.10. Shearian is the one to beat after his effort on Monday but is he over that? Stall 9 might not be ideal either and the inside stalls more than held their own earlier in the week, so stall 1 might not be the negative it looks for Limerick Lord. Plus, there must be every chance he gets his own way up front and might take some pegging back. 5 wins and 4 places on the surface from 21 runs too, and he looks a decent e/w bet at 8-1.
Today's selection – Limerick Lord (e/w) 12.10 Southwell
Good luck with all your bets today,