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He may only be stepping up from an ordinary Doncaster maiden to a 0-105 handicap off a mark of 82, but LIR SPECIALE was so impressive at Town Moor last month that he was the first name into my little black book for the new flat season. He travelled very strongly that day and once Ray Dawson asked him for his effort, he quickened away for an impressive success.
The form of that race has yet to be tested by the four horses in behind, but the selection clocked a useful last furlong and I am sure that Roger Varian wouldn’t place him in such a race unless he thought that the son of Prince of Lir could do himself justice here.
Of his nine rivals I have plenty of respect for River Pride who has raced over seven furlongs on his last two starts, making all on both occasions. The drop in trip looks a good decision by his shrewd trainer as he raced with plenty of dash that day and will be suited by this stiffer track while top weight Romantic Time has been plying her trade at Listed level and has been given half a chance by the handicapper.
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Year in and year out this is a race that has paid its dues through the rest of the season, being contested by unexposed three-year-olds stepping up in trip.
Fans of Desert Crown will be looking for a big form boost from four race maiden, Mr Big Stuff, who finished six lengths off that promising colt when third at Nottingham but I am not so sure this is his trip and I much prefer the claims of INVERNESS and Red Vineyard. The latter hated the soft ground on his second juvenile start and put that well behind him when a strong staying winner of a 10 furlong handicap at Sandown (5lbs higher here).
Inverness quite obviously didn’t handle Epsom in the Blue Riband Derby Trial last time out, but was still only beaten five lengths off what was only a medium gallop. This track should play more to his strengths and the son of Highland Reel can use this as a stepping stone to something like the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot where the mile and a half should suit him even better.
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This looks quite a hot class three handicap sprint but several of these probably want some ease in the ground and unless we get some unexpected rain the field could decrease significantly in size.
That could open the door for TINTO, a classy speedster who I tipped up first time out. He looked to be coming with a winning run here over the course and distance that day until fitness told at the distance. That run should have put a nice edge on him and with the bonus that the handicapper has kept him on his current rating of 87, despite being beaten less than a length and a half, I think he can see off this field on his favoured fast ground before stepping back up in grade.
Intrinsic Bond is one of those aforementioned entries that probably wants more dig, but he looks sure to strike shortly, while it will be interesting to see if there is any money for Quest For Fun following a long spell on the side lines.
He may well be the shortest of my selections for today but RUDIMENTAL could still offer some relative value in this small field mile handicap. Racing for only the fourth time in his career at Redcar last time out, following a wind op, the selection strode out with plenty of gusto at a good pace and when challenged between the two and the one pole he found plenty for pressure under Ben Curtis. That race was run in a good time and with only a six pound penalty to burden him, I suspect we will see another step forward from this rangy sort.
The other key to his chance here will be getting the better of the other prominent runner Majestic Fighter in the early exchanges. He ran well for a long way in a fair 10 furlong handicap at Sandown Park last time out before being eased considerably by James Doyle with more than a furlong to travel. That kindness looks sure to be repaid in the coming weeks especially now he has been dropped down to a bare mile.
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