Racing action has been back in the UK for four days but there is a feeling it really returns on Friday as the first Group 1 of the season is run at Newmarket and ITV Racing cover the sport for the first time in almost three months.
There is a card at Lingfield as well as the one at Newmarket but having looked through the runners and riders on the sand, it is at HQ where we are focusing our attention. We are leaving the big race alone but will attack the start of a great weekend of racing with four bets.
A hotly contested Class 2 handicap over 6 furlongs sees 11 runners in opposition. The favourite is Swindler, a lightly raced & progressive 4 year old who’s run in just 3 handicaps to date. The middle of those was moderately disappointing here but he’s sandwiched that with 2 wins at Ascot & this looks like a prep in advance of the Royal meeting in 2 weeks time. He’s 6lb higher than the last of those wins.
Dazzling Dan won here over course & distance last May off 8lb lower but won again here off 99, 4lb lower, in August. A mark of 103 here may just be beyond him. Summerghand has excellent claims having opened his campaign last year with a pair of 2nd places over this course & distance off marks of 97 and the mark he has today, 100. He’s held his form well & returns from a winter campaign in Meydan. At a bigger price, Total Commitment cannot be written off after 3 consecutive 2nd place finishes on the all weather.
Our pick is Open Wide who comes here after an excellent, if unlucky, campaign last year. After winning a Class 3 handicap at Windsor off a mark of 92 in the summer, he then finished 2nd three times on the spin off 95, including in the Stewards Cup behind the high class Khaadem. Later on in the season, he finished just over 1 length 3rd to Swindler and, despite the winner going in with something in hand, our horse is now 7lbs better off.
He’s largely been campaigned over both 5 and 6 furlongs and, whilst his form at 5 furlongs is good, there’s also quite a bit of inconsistency to it. On the other hand, his record when encountering his favoured conditions of 6 furlongs on good or better ground is impressive with finishes of 34221303223231, the only disappointment when midfield in the 2018 Stewards Cup where the jockey reported that he was denied a clear run. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, a big run is surely on the cards.
Back Open Wide (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 Betfair BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
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12 run in the Listed Paradise Stakes over a mile, a race centred around a very warm favourite in Sangarius. His price of under 2/1 is unsurprising off the mark of an impressive win in a Group 3 at Royal Ascot and he looks destined to bigger things as a 4 year old. However, that was over 10 furlongs and there was some juice in the ground so there’s enough doubt to oppose him with one at a bigger price.
Century Dream has some form in Group 1 company but was disappointing last term & has something to prove whilst Lord Tennyson must be feared from top connections but he’s seen the racecourse just once and inexperience is surely an issue. Momkin is having his second start since moving to the yard of William Haggas so it’d be no surprise to see him involved and, at a bigger price, Vale Of Kent could continue his improvement.
One who must surely rate the biggest danger to the favourite is Mythical Magic from the Charlie Appleby yard. In 13 career starts, he’s been out of the first 3 in just 3 of those and has won 3 of his races. There are suggestions that his best form is at Meydan and that certainly seems to be true but there are lots of reasons to suggest he’ll extend his excellent form beyond just that track. First up, he’s only run 6 times as a 4 or 5 year old, 4 of those runs have come at Meydan where he’s finished 2122, all in Group 2 company.
His 2 runs in this country have both been in the highest possible company, Group 1, so we’re happy to ignore those runs. In fact, the only other time he’s been out of the first 3 was as a 2 year old when again pitched into Group 1 company. It’s clear to us that he’s just below top class but is arguably better than Listed grade so must come here with a massive chance. If the favourite fails to fire, he is the most likely to take advantage.
Back Mythical Magic (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 8.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
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Division 1 of this Class 3 handicap over 6 furlongs sees 10 runners go to post. The top 2 in the weights are the top 2 markets, with Silent Echo just 1lb ahead of Gunmetal in the handicap. The former has been running well on the all weather and is 4lb lower than his last turf run when 2nd but that was almost 2 years ago. Gunmetal, meanwhile, was fancied on almost every run last year but flattered to deceive more often than not. He’s dropped to a very favourable mark and cannot be dismissed.
Deep Intrigue ran here yesterday and Golden Apollo was in good form last year but is now 5lb higher than when winning on his last start of last term. Intisaab looks very well handicapped and is a danger to all if transferring his excellent all weather form to turf but our bet is another that looks to be leniently treated.
George Bowen is a northern raider who’s been out of form for some time now but there are reasons to suggest a big run is on the card. He started off last year off a mark of 103 and ran 3rd, 8th and 1st in a trio of Class 2 handicaps on the all weather. An excellent 2nd to the ill fated Kachy followed in the Sprint at the all weather Championships at Lingfield. Unfortunately, his season went downhill from there with 8 no-shows on turf in big handicaps which has seen his mark fall to just 90. He has historic form over 5 and 6 furlongs on varying ground in big handicaps but, like today, his preferred conditions are a trip of 6 furlongs on good or better ground.
Now dropped into a Class 3, he must be feared and that is backed by his form in his 2 only starts in this grade on this type of ground in the last 3 years. He was 2nd off 87, beaten a neck, in 2018 and one year earlier won by almost 5 lengths off 86. One other reason for optimism is field size as, in the last 2 seasons, he’s finished in the first three on 7 occasions, with 6 of those in fields of no more than 11 runners (just 10 runners today). At the price, he’s well worthy of an each way investment.
Back George Bowen (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Coral BOG (⅕ odds 1-3)
The final race on the card is Division 2 of the Class 3 handicap over 6 furlongs.
Highland Dress comes here off a recent race record of 21 but they were both in Southwell handicaps on the fibresand so we’re happy to oppose at a price of just 4/1. Spirit Of May was in good form at the end of last year but reverts to turf off a very stiff looking mark, so Ice Lord looks to be more of a danger off a 7lbs lower mark than when 4th of 15 over course & distance on reappearance last term. Danzan & Wentworth Falls shouldn’t be written off either.
Our final bet of the day, however, is Citron Major who has his first run since undergoing wind surgery. He’s a winner of 4 of his 17 starts on turf, the latest being a handicap over this trip in this grade off 1lb higher just 5 starts ago. Like many of our other bets, it’s about delving deeper into the conditions, where his form in 6 furlong handicaps on good to firm or better ground reads 413901.
The 2 disappointments were both at York, once when getting blocked off and the other when the vet reported bleeding from the nose. In fact, if you narrow that form to exclude races in a higher grade, his 6 furlong fast ground form reads 131. The 3 most recent bits of form (413) were all off slightly higher marks than this, so his mark today is within reach and he looks a definite player in an open race.
Back Citron Major (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 10.00 Betfair Sportsbook BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
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