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There comes a time in every horses’ career when they reach a level in tune with both their talent and their handicap mark! A rating of 55 for the regressive five-year-old gelding KOLOSSUS all adds up to being his time.
Placed off a mark as high as 70, the selection finally showed a spark of his old form when running a four length seventh of 14 at Newcastle over this trip and that despite galloping like a runaway train through the first quarter of a mile.
You could readily argue that the best of his form has come over a stiffer track like Carlisle, but it was less than a year ago that the son of Assertive was only beaten three and a half lengths over this course and distance in a much better race.
At an each-way price, he gets the call over the likes of the well-treated Sheepscar Lad and frustrating Shackabooah.
This looks a really competitive renewal of the Group Three Gladness Stakes with the likes of Lancaster Gate, Speak in Colours, Brad The Brief and Lustown Baba all rated within 4lbs of each other.
The other qualifier for that group is the selection, KNOW IT ALL. The four-year-old is by far the least exposed of the 12 runner field, but has already achieved as much as her more experienced rivals.
Her outstanding piece of form from eight runs came on her final start in 2020 when she weakened close home in the Group One Matron Stakes, beaten just the three lengths by Champs Elysees. This drop back to seven furlongs chasing a fast pace looks like her optimum set up and the bay filly has a cracking chance of taking care of her 11 rivals.
At first glance, this 22-runner handicap looks impossible to solve with at least eight of the entries well handicapped on their best form and five coming into the race off more than fair runs, last time out.
However, the Jessica Harrington charge TAURAN SHAMAN is by far the most interesting runner having finally been handed some mercy by the assessor.
Last of five in the Group Two Daniel Wildenstein Stakes as a three-year-old, he has consistently run to a smart level of form in handicaps since over a mile through to a mile and a quarter, although there is little doubt that the shorter trip suits him best.
His third of 16 to Nebo over a mile at Cork off a rating of 95 showed what he was capable of and running off 87 on his comeback run at Leopardstown on unsuitably soft ground was a more than adequate way to resume action.
With regular partner Shane Foley on board, despite a low draw, he is handicapped to go very close here especially on his preferred drying ground.
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The best horse in a handicap is normally the top weight and if he or she can live up to that rating then more often than not, a part in the finish is their port of call.
Jamie Osborne’s GOOD EARTH was an above-average juvenile, a stand out performance being a second of 11 to Old News at Windsor.
Since then, the bay gelding has only had one further chance to race on genuinely fast ground when he came home fifth in a maiden at Bath, but ran with the choke out.
Now I admit a 16 race maiden is hardly a hook worth hanging your coat on, but he has shown distinct signs that he remains capable of winning a race of this nature especially when getting the run of the race out in front. On top of that, he’s also shown that some of best runs have come when he has been as fresh as paint.
Saturday night could just be his big scene.
A low grade, one mile handicap that looks pretty competitive at this level wouldn’t normally be my bagl, but I think that we could have an edge here. Four of the 10 entries are not proven at the mile trip and two more have shown their best form on much flatter terrain.
That leaves just the four runners to negotiate and with the Amanda Perrett yard in such good form and the filly very nicely treated, I have fallen on the side of this four-year-old, SAUCY ENCORE.
Since November 2020, the selection has raced entirely on the all-weather with two very solid placed efforts at Chelmsford and Kempton on her CV.
On her last run she looked more than a shade unlucky having been carried right at a crucial stage of the contest and has a clear cut chance of landing this basement grade contest off A 1lb higher mark of 56.
The only slight negative is that she has yet to encounter ground quite this fast, but her action suggests she will handle it.
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