Weight is rarely a massive factor in this as the last 8 winners have carried 9st3 or more. Azraff would fall into the weight category and though he hasn’t tasted success since 2014 he has twice run very well over todays course and distance. Interestingly connections decided to have him gelded over the winter and with Ryan Moore on top today it appears likely connections are anticipating a big run. Stable companion Emerald appears to be the 2nd string but he has an attractive profile and shouldn’t be dismissed despite having to prove himself against seasoned handicappers here.
Predominance looks almost certain to go off favourite and wouldn’t have to improve much on his fine fourth here at the backend of last season. That was only his 3rd ever run and improvement as a 4 year old looks assured, all things considered he deserves to be favourite and must be respected.
Right Touch singed off last season with two victories but has to be considered an unlikely stayer. Keystroke and Master Of Irony are other appealing types as both are unexposed, the pair will face easier tasks than this however and time is on their side.
Course form at Doncaster is imperative and Maraakib has a 100% strike rate to defend. The O’Meara trained runner is very consistent and at the age of just four years old has plenty of room for progression. Of course there’s others in the race that, on paper, may have a better chance but in terms of value at the prices it looks to have a great each way claim.
Azraff (E/W if 9/2+)
Our first of two trips to the all-weather at Kempton comes in a class 2, seven furlong race where current favourite Crazy Chic gets the nod. A previous course and distance winner who should improve for its second placed seasonal reappearance ought to go close for the inform Marco Botti stable.
Of its rivals both Brigliadoro and Shyron look to be the biggest threats as one is a fellow course and distance winner and the other has been ultra consistent with two seconds and a win to its name.
Shyron clearly improved with each of its last three outings but I fear this level of opposition may be a step too far at a course it is yet to taste success at.
Crazy Chic (E/W if 9/2+)
Although it’s not the highest grade race on offer today it is by far the showpiece race of the afternoon as The Lincoln takes centre stage.
As with any race with so many runners it is wide open but this years renewal looks exceptionally tough to call.
The current and clear market leader is David O’Meara’s Lord Of The Land. A horse that was previously trained by Andre Fabre in France this five year old will act if there’s any cut in the ground but considering it only won a three runner race last time I couldn’t be so overly confident about backing such a short priced runner in a race of this nature.
Looking down the race card and just underneath the favourite we find Farlow, a horse that I feel has a much better chance than it’s current 25/1 price suggests. The horses form in its last four runs at Doncaster reads as follows; Fourth of sixteen, seventh of fifteen, first of sixteen and third of twenty one. The horse clearly loves the course and gets on supremely well with young apprentice Sammy Jo Bell. A step up to a mile will suit and as with the favourite, any slight underfoot conditions will boost its chances. Definitely worth a punt at such good odds.
Previous course and distance winner Ocean Tempest enters the race off a very low mark and has the assistance of top jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle. The John Ryan trained seven year old knows what it takes to win this race having won it back in 2014. A repeat of that performance will put it close but with such lacklustre form since it becomes a very untrustworthy proposition.
The likes of Udododontu and Mutarakez have an abundance of potential and both hail from very high profile owners. Both have fantastic chances but seem a tad too short in the betting.
A very dark horse that lines up hails from Godolphin as Charlie Appleby sends Secret Brief into the race. A third placed finish last time out proves the horse has a decent level of ability and gets into the race from a very low weight. There’s no doubt it’ll have to improve to tackle some of the big players in this but this four year old has room to progress and may be worth an each way shout.
Should Express Himself get away on level terms he would surely take some beating, slowly away at Haydock when last seen he travelled supremely well throughout and showed a nice turn of foot to mow down an unexposed type late on. The handicapper nudged him up 8lbs for that which on the face of it is very harsh, he is likely to get a pace here though and he is taken to defy the penalty as our third and final selection.
Secret Brief (E/W)
Express Himself (E/W)
We cover the next two races from Newbury as we throw a bit of jumping action into the mix.
The favourite Thomas Crapper has by far the best form to its name but the nine year old has never won a chase before in its career and its top form tends to be reserved for Cheltenham. As the form suggests I’m not convinced it wants a bigger obstacle and in a chase I couldn’t back it at a favourites price.
So what to take it on with? I hear you cry! Well I find it very interesting that previously Irish based horse Art Of Logistics makes its stable debut for top class trainer Phillip Hobbs. The horse promised a lot in Ireland but failed to deliver on the big stage. It seems ike the horse has been around for a while but is still only eight years old.
The soon to be crowned champion jockey, Richard Johnson, takes the mount and gives the horse s great chance of placing or getting its head in front.
A mention has to go to both Morning Reggie who looks very consistent and The Clock Leary who sees Sam Twiston-Davies team up with Venetia Williams, a combination you rarely see. Both have their chances but may see a handful finish before they do.
Art Of Logistics (E/W if 9/2+)
This listed sprint contest has numerous group race winners entered and looks quite a classy affair.
When looking through the form I couldn’t work out why Group 1 winner Move In Time was as big as 12/1. That was until I realised the jockey bookings. Daniel Tudhope has opted to jump off the Group 1 winner in favour of the lesser known Suedois. The French import makes his debut for David O’Meara on ground it will surely relish. I’m positive the trainer will bring about an improvement and it definitely has a worthy favourites chance.
Looking through the favourites nearest rivals and I feel Jack Dexter may be too old and too inconsistent and Alben Star isn’t likely to handle the surface.
Maarek on the other hand will love the soft going as will the favourites, afformentioned stablemate.
All this being said however I feel team O’Meara should have this one sewn up.
Suedois (E/W if 9/2+)
Move In Time (E/W)
Typically for races of this nature most have something to be recommended on but a chance is going to be taken with one at a bigger price as deciphering all of the form looks an impossible task. Avispa represents the Alan King yard whom have had a terrible time of late and who failed to hit the winners board at Cheltenham. A Listed winner on her final start in bumpers she will probably head off to the sheds before long, adding a victory over obstacles however would further enhance her fee should she go in that direction though and she has probably been trained with this in mind. Ruby Rambler must concede weight all round but has the strongest from to offer, whether she wants this kind of trip is questionable but she deserves respect regardless. Rene’s Girl and Antartica De Thaix come from yards amongst the winners and deserve respect but a chance will be taken on the frustrating Avispa at decent odds.
A disappointing numerical turnout for this see’s only seven runners, only three of them appear to have a real chance of winning and so the race has to be considered unsatisfactory when considering the prize money on offer. Custom Cut has turned into a real classy sort and must concede weight all round. His victory on his first start of last season in a Group2 read well in the context of this and his yard generally start well. Comfortable on all types of ground he looks the safest option and is handed the vote, though his penalty does make things tricky. Muwaary is by far the most interesting runner, off the track for nearly two years he finished second in the Jersey at Royal Ascot and had previously finished a very good 4th in the French Guineas. Connections decision to keep him in training has to be seen as a major positive and it would be no shock if he were to win, the absence is a little off putting however and he’s entitled to need it. Belardo won the Dewhurst as a two year old and look destined to go right to the top, things didn’t really pan out for him thereafter but his 2nd behind French superstar Solow was an excellent effort and he has an excellent chance against these. The rest are impossible to fancy but Mick Channon has his yard firing and Bossy Guest at least has some semblance of a chance if reading into his placed effort in last terms Jersey.
Custom Cut (WIN)
Our final televised race from Kempton looks likely to be disputed by three of the runners. Although I’m not entirely dismissing the chances of the other six entries if the betting is anything to go off it looks set to be decided by Kyllachy Queen, Redstart and Volunteer Point.
Volunteer Point marginally edges the current betting market after picking up three consecutive wins on the bounce. Although the horse has done what its had to do and has picked up victories galore it steps up in class and after what seems to have been quite a packed career looks likely to be open to more improving types.
One of those improving types I feel is Redstart. Trainer Ralph Beckett has a 40% strike rate over the past two weeks and this horse has never tasted defeat on the all-weather. Irish jockey Fran Berry comes over to England for just the two rides, of which this is jhis best chance. The horse hasn’t been seen since last years Guineas and clearly connections think a lot of the four year old. Definitely worth a punt and could be the one with a touch of class.
The aforementioned Kyllachy Queen comes from a top class stable with Marco Botti but a second placed finish behind Lamar doesn’t look the best bit of form on offer so I feel minor honours are the best that can be expected today.
Redstart (E/W if 9/2+)
American trainer Wesley Ward needs no introduction to European race fans after his exploits at Ascot and his Create A Dream is probably the most fascinating runner to have ever lined up in this. Wearing blinkers on her debut here is unlikely to intimate at any sort of issue as most of the yards do and her breeding strongly suggests she is a very big player. Punters are almost certain to latch on but she already represents little value and the ground will likely be less lively than she works on, all that said she looks a massive player and is respected. Mark Johnston has his string firing and his runner, The Last Lion is related to multiple winners over this trip. Costing £85,000 he is feared massively but like the favourite, he will likely be short enough. Crucial Moment comes from a yard responsible for 4 of the last 10 winners of this and is as likely as any on paper. His yard have had a few failures in 2 year old races already but as this is so often targeted and as his price offers value, he is taken to at least run into the places. Billy’s Boots and Springwood are other to pay attention to as their respected yards also know how to get one ready first time up.
Crucial Moment (E/W if 9/2+)