2.05pm Salisbury – Betfred “City Bowl” Handicap Class Three – 1m 6f 21yds
Some decent horses are entered up here for this stamina sapping event headed perhaps at first glance by the Ralph Beckett trained Magic Circle (11/4), who was in fine form last season with three wins in a row, and four in his last five contests. After a disappointing three races as a juvenile the son of 2000 Guineas winner Makfi was stepped up in trip last season and was a revelation as already mentioned, stepping up through the ratings from 66 for his first win to 78 for his last where he met trouble in running but still went on to record a two and a half length victory over Craggaknock over this sort of trip at Doncaster. A further eight pounds from the handicapper certainly won’t make his life any easier, and even if he did win first time out last season and possibly goes well fresh, he does seem likely to improve for the race today with other targets ahead of him.
David Elsworth is one of racing’s nice guys and he has an unknown quantity who we really like in here with Mark Hopkins (4/1), who is open to any amount of improvement at four after just the three races. A second behind High Admiral first time out when running on at odds of 16/1 over ten furlongs promised a decent enough future, and he duly took his maiden next time out at Newmarket on a softer surface when stepped up to a mile and a half. Putting six lengths of daylight between himself and nearest challenger Mishgar, he was given an opening mark of 85 and duly ran second to Faithful Mount when stepped up to this course and distance. Put up another four pounds, he will need to come on again here but that seems almost a certainty, and we are more than happy to be backing him at his price this afternoon.
Meanwhile ex jockey and now trainer Brendan Powell is making a good job of his second career and has booked Everton fan Martin Dwyer to ride bottom weight Rideeonastar (7/1) who could go well in the circumstances. He looked a bit once paced over a mile and a half at Windsor when second to Slunovrat but is a backward sort with just the eight career starts at the age of five, and if the rains fall and he gets enough cut in the ground he could be there or thereabouts at the line off of just eight stone five.
Top weight Winterlude (10/1) has been sent here as opposed to his other options by in form trainer Jennie Candlish which is an interesting call, and he was seen running on strongly in to fourth at Lingfield over shorter last time out. Yet to try this trip on the flat, it could be just what he needs but nine stone ten is a lot of weight to carry round here and as he likes to come from off the pace it will be interesting to see how Timmy Murphy rides him as they rarely quicken as expected carrying that sort of weight.
Lastly, we quite like the look of Eton Rambler (20/1) who had a pipe opener on the all-weather when third to Steve Rogers over two miles at Kempton, so he should be spot on for this. His five career victories have never stretched over further than a mile and a half, but he has always looked as if he will get further, and today could be his chance to prove it. Trainer George Baker has a decent strike rate of late as does jockey Pat Cosgrave so both will be brimming with confidence which always helps, and at a big price he could well work out as an each way option for punters who like to play at bigger prices.
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