There’s a few dropping in grade for this Class 5 2m handicap at Ripon 20.30 in the hope that it will spark a revival in form.
The problem is that those with the most realistic chances – on paper anyway – all have to carry the steadiers of 9-7 or more over the marathon trip.
Top weight Gang Warfare takes a drop in class – hence a hefty 9-10 – but you have to shuffle back six races to last August for his last win, when rated 80 in a Class 4 handicap at Chepstow. However, he not the most prolific in finding the winner’s enclosure and others are preferred.
Stormin Tom has three zero’s in front of his name and would be easy to ignore – except for his record at Ripon where he’s a four-time course winner. The last came when 4lb higher over 1m 6f last August. Connections won’t have landed on this track by accident.
The best recent form in the race and the one with arguably the most potential is the favourite, Always Resolute. He switched to Ian Williams’ yard last November and promptly won two hurdle races – one of them off a rating of 116 at Doncaster. It’s been a while between drinks since his last win on the level, but was an encouraging third to warm favourite, Coueur De Lion at Chester’s May meeting.
The slight worry is that his best form is on on an easy surface (was heavy at Chester) and he’s short enough in the market to find out if he handles good to firm ground.
Of the others, Buyer Beware makes his seasonal debut on the Flat having run over hurdles during the winter. While he’s back on a winning mark, that victory came over 1m 4f and this could be a pipe-opener for other races where his stamina isn’t exposed. Indian Vision hasn’t raced since last August but did go back to back at Redcar last season off a 147-day break. Tebay hasn’t won in nine starts and is tried over 2m to see if that brings out any improvement while Galitelo did win off today’s mark over 2m in February at Lingfield, but has struggled since.
Which leaves us with former Northumberland Plate winner, ANGEL GABRIAL. Ironically, that high point of his career was the last time the number 1 appeared in his form figures and the 10-year-old isn’t getting any younger. He was rated 96 in his pomp but races off 57 tonight and 2m on good to firm ground should be just peachy creamy.
He gets 17lb off the favourite and looks worth a play to bring back the glory days one more time.
Selection: Angel Gabrial @ 9/2
*Prices correct at time of publishing