Bless me Father, for I have been sinned against. Nearly three months since my last visit to the track. It must be the guts of 30 years since the pleasures of the racecourse were so long denied. Not that I’ll be visiting anytime soon, but the return of U.K. racing this week, with the Irish action following along shortly, is some consolation.
Had a lot of thinking time recently. Probably too much. How I’ve missed sport. What do people do without it? In my case it’s largely consisted of the endless grey areas of politics and existential navel gazing. Neither seems to have a clear finishing line. Thankfully Kempton, now that the optically challenged judge has been replaced and Yarmouth do.
Hopefully we can mark our comeback with a winner or two.
The Kempton card features two stakes races. The first of these at 14.45 and sees Born With Pride make her eagerly awaited reappearance. She heads the betting. Even with some promising opponents to deal with, the early 9/4 looks a more than fair price to me.
It’s possible to question the merits of her debut win in Newmarket. A fillies race run on heavy ground in November is more likely than most to produce a fluke. She probably took advantage of favourable track position. This may be pocket talking, but the runner-up that day Peaceful looked unlucky for various reasons.
Peaceful is a serious tool, and would rate her a live runner if taking up her entry in the 1000 Guineas at the weekend. For Born With Pride to beat her on career debut looks a serious effort. The tactical versatility she showed that day should prove useful on Wednesday. There’s not a lot of obvious pace. Her dam seems to be a strong stamina, and talent, influence. The extra two furlongs looks a positive.
She can make all to win.
The Listed race at 15.55 looks a more open affair. It might be worth chancing Natalie’s Joy at a double-figure price. Natalie has had a chequered career. She was backed off the boards for the Chesham at Royal Ascot. That was off the back of a hugely impressive win on debut in Goodwood.
Short-price punters had their fingers singed when she blew out in Ascot. She proved that form wrong when winning a listed race in Newbury the following month. That rates strong form. She failed to reappear for the rest of her juvenile campaign. Her sole start last term was another blowout.
She starts her third season on Wednesday. It’s encouraging that connections persevere with this fragile sort. She has a wide draw to contend with but shouldn’t face much competition for the lead. Her best form puts her in the mix here. She surely has the potential to rate higher. Paddy dangle an extra-place carrot. Given Natalie’s hero or zero nature, I will politely decline and play win only.
Taking the big-priced flyer to extremes in the 15.20. Imhotep is 40/1 in early trading. That’s a risky oul price for a horse with his unexposed profile. There’s plenty to take on trust. He’s left Roger Charlton’s yard and is now with Milton Bradley. It would be stretching things to call that a trainer upgrade.
Milton paid £24,000 him. Not cheap for a horse with his rating. The upside is obvious. He has only had three career starts. On the second of those he was heavily backed to win a maiden that has worked out well. That third placed finish, although disappointing for odds on punters, would still make him look well treated off a mark of 71. He’s a very well-bred horse. It’s not hard to envisage him rating significantly higher in future.
There are plenty of negatives including a tough draw to overcome on Wednesday but the one massive positive though is he’s 40/1. We don’t need to invest a whole pile of trust chips at those odds.
The 12.45 at Yarmouth looks a tasty affair to kick off proceedings on the turf. Plenty of well-bred horses who should improve plenty as the season progresses. Zabeel Champion may not have as big a future as some. He could be just the ticket for Wednesday though. This horse made a winning debut on firm going in Bath. Yarmouth is likely to ride rattling fast too.
That proven ability in the conditions could prove crucial. The form of that Bath win is strong too. The second is unbeaten in his other two starts. Zabeel Champion was a touch disappointing when beaten in Newcastle second time up. Maybe the drop in trip didn’t suit. He’s stoutly bred on the dam’s side. The extended 10 furlongs on Wednesday should suit. Paddy go an extra place. I’ll chance him each way.
City Wanderer looks a bet in the 16.15. This horse would probably be unbeaten in his last four starts but for stumbling out of the stalls on penultimate run in Epsom. He put that right when beating a progressive sort in Windsor last time. A 4lb rise in the weights looks lenient. He faces some horses of potential here. The Wanderer is a proven winner though. He’s also shown ground versatility in his career. Hopefully he can adapt to this quick terrain.
I thought he should be favourite so will have to dabble at the likely price.
*Prices correct at publishing but are subject to change except on our snazzy new bet widget which is bang up to date.