The flat is back!
Its the first day of the Flat season already, which gets underway with the traditional curtain raiser that is the Lincoln handicap from Doncaster this afternoon – no more wet Wednesdays at Wincanton and wont be long till we are basking in the sun at Royal Ascot!
Today along with the highlight meeting from Doncaster we have action on the level from Kempton, Southwell and over at Navan, plus interesting National Hunt meetings from Uttoxeter and Stratford and not to mention the huge prizes on offer at the Dubai World cup meeting from Meydan also on show this afternoon.
We have highlighted five of the best betting opportunities from across the cards which we hope will put us on the front foot against those bookmakers and get the weekend off to a flying start!
The Magnolia Stakes from Kempton at 2:05pm attracts a competitive field and looks a high class renewal of the race- but that being said one we are very sweet on is the Mark Johnston trained MATTERHORN who looks to be going from strength to strength and looks the one to beat once again this afternoon.
The improving 4 yr-old has won his last 5 races on the all weather, improving from a mark of 80 in early December to his current mark of 112, an improvement of nearly two stone!
Though this is his first effort outside of handicap company the manner of his victories suggest that he should have no problem making the step up and has been allocated the plum draw in stall one to make the most of his front running tactics.
He made light work of a hot contest last time out over course and distance, beating Executive Force who has come out and won again since giving the form line a very strong look, and this is backed up by the winning figure on the clock which very much suggested that it wont be long before we see Matterhorn contesting group contests.
Mootasadir is likely to be the main danger as is a horse Marco Botti holds in real high regard, and Big Country has been solid in these sort of races, but under today’s conditions it is hard to get away from the inform Matterhorn and should prove hard to beat once again.
The Spring mile at Doncaster this afternoon is one of the trickiest puzzles of the year to solve with strong claims to be made for nearly half of the field, but the one that jumps off the page and looks cracking each way value at the current price is the Brian Meehan trained PETRUS who looks set to run another big race.
This is a high class animal who looks to have been plotted up with this race in mind for sometime, as you don’t have to look too far back in the form book to see him chasing home the likes of Roaring Lion in group 2 company having previously hacked up as a 2 yr-old at Sandown. The sky looked the limit at the point in his career but clearly has had his problems as hasn’t really progressed since, and therefore dropped to a favourable handicap mark of just 91.
It could prove significant that Meehan has given Petrus the gelding operation, and word from the yard is they think he is starting to show some of his old sparkle since the procedure, and if this is the case he is sure to go close from this current mark.
Tom Marquand is a good booking to ride, and with the cheek pieces applied for the first time and a positive draw in stall 3 all looks set for a return to form and therefore looks a cracking each way price at the current trading odds.
Trainer Tony Carroll certainly knows when he has a well handicapped horse in his care and is always to be respected whenever there is good money for one of his runners and we are siding with the stable this afternoon as are very keen on the chances of ILHABELA FACT and would be no surprise to see her well backed once again.
The improving 5 yr-old has been very progressive since the turn of the year, moving from a mark of just 66 to the current rating of 82 and has been putting up career best efforts each time to suggest we haven’t reached the ceiling of her ability just yet. We last saw her when beating Valentino Dancer over today’s course and distance when once again really well backed and scored with the minimum of fuss.
Though this looks a harder contest than the ones she has been competing in recently, the winning times suggest she is better than this grade and looks the type of horse you need to follow until her form tails off as is hard to know exactly how good she could be over this sort of trip.
Nylon Speed could be the one to worry about as is also on the upgrade and would be no surprise to see him win similar races, but we will stick with the likely market leader Ilhabela Fact who should progress once again and should prove hard to beat.
There is an intriguing card from Uttoxeter this afternoon with some good prize money on offer and the best bet on the card comes in the 3mile handicap chase at 5:05pm where we expect THE BOSS’S DREAM to run another big race and looks decent value at the current price.
The 11 yr-old has been a grand servant for trainer Neil King, and has dropped to a favourable handicap mark of 110 having being rated as high as 139 over hurdles a couple of seasons back, and therefore clearly capable of winning a race such as this.
We last saw him at Warwick when well backed into favouritism, but unfortunately could only manage a 4th place finish which was mainly due to the soft ground and not looking like really getting home over the extended trip of 3miles 5furlongs. The drop back to 3miles this afternoon looks ideal as does the quicker surface and with champion jockey Richard Johnson taking over in the saddle all looks set for another big effort.
The Skeltons remain in good form and are out to gain as many winners as possible before the season is out so you need to respect the chances of their runner Zamparelli, but it is The Boss’s Dream we expect to take the beating and looks the best value in this tight contest.
There is a tricky looking card for punters this evening from Southwell, but the one that we do expect to score and end the day on a winner is the Robert Eddery trained TYNECASTLE PARK who seems to love the surface at the track and should once again take some stopping.
Eddery is a very clever placer of his horses and the 6 yr-old scored in good style over course and distance last time when beating Amadeus by over 2 lengths from a 3lb lower mark. He was really well backed that day to suggest that the yard feel they have a well handicapped horse on their hands and this would be backed up by the winning time on the clock which very much suggested that this is a horse that should be rated a lot higher than the current mark of 62.
Southwell is a track that really attracts a course specialist, and once you find a horse that goes well at the venue they tend to repeat this time after time so is a big pointer that all Tynecastle Park’s best effort have come at the venue and would expect another big run this evening, and alongside the fact this looks an easier contest than he won last time it makes him the one they all have to beat.