The weekend always brings a higher class of racing in both the flat and the jumps. Domestically we have Ascot, Newmarket, Fontwell, Redcar and Wolverhampton. There’s also a really good card over at Gowran Park in Ireland to digest as we kick off the weekend’s action.
Starting a super Saturday at Newmarket for their opening race. A good looking Fillies’ 1 mile 2 furlong handicap. The market is currently headed by rapid improver EVA MARIA. Richard Fahey’s filly made her handicap debut last time out and was an eye catching winner. This was also her first crack at 10 furlongs, previously tackling 8, and again she was pulling away at the line.
Handicapper hasn’t been too hard on her and she only finds herself 6lbs higher today. It’s manageable rise for the 3 year old as moving up in class she’s getting weight from most of her rivals. Biggest rival in the market, Scentasia, comes in on a mark of 97. 9lbs is a big chunk of weight to give away here as the ground has some juice in it.
It’s quite interesting to see recent winner Hyanna here. She was quite an impressive winner back in august at Sandown. Finds herself shouldering top weight today, which will make Georgia Dobie’s job a lot harder. With all the major dangers in the race having to give the selection weight it’s likely Eva Maria will keep progressing and notch up her 3rd career win.
Third race of the day at Ascot is a great punting race if you’re willing to wade through the entries in this 7 furlong handicap. Course and distance specialist Raising Sand comes in as top weight and on an all time high mark of 109. As consistent as the 7 year old is at Ascot I’m going to take him on with the equally consistent KYNREN.
Kynren has run over course and distance before, coming a narrow 2nd to Cape Byron. Going off favourite that day he challenged late but went down by a neck to the Roger Varian gelding. That was off a mark of 98, so he does come in 3lbs higher today but he’s still proving ever so consistent. It’s also interesting to note that Raising Sand featured in the same race and finished back in 4th. Raising Sand currently sits 6lbs higher than that day, so a swing in the weights in Kynren’s favour makes him an even more favourable selection here.
It’s frustrating that David Baron’s 5 year old keeps hitting the crossbar. But a return to 7 furlongs and Ascot’s stiff finish will suit him more than his recent runs over a mile.
Staying at Ascot for their next race, we’ve already mentioned Roger Varian’s CAPE BYRON. It’s likely that the race before is going to be fought out by two horses who have been beaten by this gelding. The form will be franked nicely ready for Cape Byron to chalk up another course and distance win.
Although last time out trying group company resulted in a 3rd place behind Shine So Bright he was less than disgraced. A flat 7 furlong at York may not be his bag as a flat galloping track. He likes to sit mid pack and strike in the last furlong. The business end of the race are where he performs best. This was shown in abundance in his last spin over course and distance where he won handily by 2 lengths.
The top rated horse entered it is proving very hard to look past him and the great odds currently on offer. Current favourite is Tabdeed. A handy win over course and distance in a class 2 handicap back in October looks good form but on paper it doesn’t look like he beat much that day. The time was eye-catching but we run on soft ground today and the favourite is untested on anything slower than Good to Soft.
An absolute cracker of a race for our first trip over to Ireland. This champion chase over 2 miles 4 furlongs features some very familiar names. Gordon Elliott sends 3 here but it’s the runner in the maroon of Gigginstown that’s the most appealing.
SHATTERED LOVE looks the best choice from a betting angle. As the only filly in the race gets a chunk of weight from her rivals. A drop back down to 2 and a half miles will suit as it’s clearly been her optimum trip. Back in 2017 she did a demolition job in the JLT novices chase at the Cheltenham Festival. She won by a clear 7 lengths and looked a really good staying prospect. Fast forward to this year and she contested the Gold Cup at the festival. Finishing a respectable but detached 9th. But the marathon trips ask too much of her stamina reserves and she wavers late on. Last seen in an Irish Grand National attempt a mistake curbed her run, though I doubt she would’ve seen out the 3 mile 5 furlongs anyway.
Main danger is most likely going to be the J P O’Brien trained Us And Them. A long string of 2nd places last season in graded novice chases all read as good form. It’s interesting to see him try the extra half a mile here. It’d be suggested it would suit as he really comes alive in the last few furlongs of his races to normally assert 2nd place. He’s taken to chase home Shattered Love here.