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This staying event often produces a smart handicapper that goes on to makes its mark in Listed or even Group company and the Mark Johnston charge could fall exactly into that category.
The Middleham handler loves a galloper that stays well and has a very professional attitude to go with that natural talent. A game winner over a mile and a half on his three-year-old debut at York, he followed that up with a cracking second to stable mate Dancing King at Doncaster in a head-bobbing finish.
His conqueror certainly cemented that form with a progressive performance when beaten just five lengths in the Group Two Queen’s Vase at the Royal meeting.
The selection was then sent off as short at 17/2 for the hugely competitive King George V Stakes at the same meeting, but after totally missing the break, he was simply never travelling and Ben Curtis accepted the situation some way from home coming home last of the 17 runners.
You could argue that run came soon enough after that Doncaster battle and I feel that the son of Galileo is worth another chance over a trip which promises to suit better.
This mile handicap has always been a competitive event and this year’s renewal continues that pattern with 15 set to go to post and a top weight rated 109.
Down in grade, the giant Accidental Agent is interesting, but I thought that the Bunbury Cup at the Newmarket July meeting was the race for him.
As such I have plumped instead for David O’Meara’s lightly raced six-year-old who has endured several niggly problems which have meant that he has still not been able to fulfil his early promise.
A length off the smart Barney Roy as a three-year-old in France when with the mighty Andre Fabre, his breathing has obviously been a problem since he was switched to the Upper Helmsley handler.
His comeback run in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster was an absolute cracker, running on strongly in the closing stages when just over four lengths off the impressive Haqeeqy. He obviously made a noise that afternoon and underwent a second wind op after which he travelled to Newcastle finishing fifth of six in a race which wasn’t run to suit and ran into trouble in the closing stages.
To a certain degree the jury is still out as far as his breathing is concerned, but this race will surely have more pace in it and with Jamie Spencer booked I expect a softly, softly, ride up the long, uphill finish at the Esher track.
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The Old Newton Handicap over a mile and a half is a race I always like to have an ante-post betting profile on and I have already backed Aaddeey now that he returns to 12 furlongs on good ground, as he hated the deep surface in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Despite not being able to pick up off the testing turf that day, the youngster still ran well to finish 5th of the 14 runners behind the impressive Quickthorn, and on his previous success at Newmarket he is quite rightly feared on only his third start at the trip.
However, he has been somewhat found in the market place and the each-way value here is definitely with the Godolphin entry.
This will only be the 10th start of his career and connections have been quite adamant that he cannot face fast ground which probably explained his poor run on his return to this country, following his fair spring campaign in Dubai.
On that occasion he was last of 15 in the Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot, but had to suffer racing wide for much of the early part of that race and as a consequence saw way too much daylight.
That style of racing was further amplified by being lit up by the first time visor and it was predictable that he had nothing to give from fully three and a half furlongs out.
The visor is not surprisingly dispensed with now and with a lovely surface expected at the Merseyside track and running off a 5lbs lower mark, a much improved run is in the offing.
Of course in a 19-runner handicap there are many dangers apart from the Crisford runner, with favourite Grand Bazaar and outsider Morisco feared most.
This Class 4 handicap is arguably the most fascinating betting event of the day with a load of pace up front which could play into the hands of a hold-up horse.
The problem is, most of those entries that like to come through horses in the closing stages are poorly drawn high.
However, there comes a time when a horse looks so well handicapped that I cannot ignore his claims and the top weight comes firmly under that category. That means it is now under the jurisdiction of the much underrated Jason Hart to get his charge into a good position entering the final quarter mile.
This six-year-old gelding has not been over-raced for a horse of his age (22 runs) having hit a high of 93 in the ratings in 2019. Thereafter, the selection has been placed off 84 and now gets the chance to run off 80 in this event.
A broken blood vessel accounted for a poor run two outings back on soft ground which wouldn’t have been his bag in any case and last time out Danny Tudhope said his charge was simply never travelling; all horses can have an off day.
His able trainer has given the gelding a month on the sidelines to freshen him up and if you forgive those two runs, as I do, then he is simply too big a price at double figure odds trying to give weight away to inferior speedsters now.
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