Race Time: 2.10pm Meeting: Chester
Distance: 1m 2f 75 yards
Full Race Name: I G Handicap Class Two
Free Tip: Spa’s Dancer at 20/1 EW with Bet365
This looks likely to be an intriguing handicap for four year olds upwards with some very powerful stables due to be represented, in some cases by their more elderly stars of yesteryear. John Gosden has to head that particular list as he may well send Dick Doughtywylie (9/1) here at the not so tender age of seven for his seasonal return, and we have to wonder why a yard probably turning away owners keeps this son of Oasis Dream in training? Answering my own question, he is owned by Rachel Hood (John’s better half) so it may a necessity, but a look at the horse’s form suggests he may well have decent chances as well. The predicted good to soft ground should be perfect, and he has won races off a rating of 98 (one pound higher today) so that should not be an issue – but whether they can get him fit first time out at his age is another matter, and was almost enough to put us off until we saw the final field.
As for trainer Andrew Balding, well he can do little wrong so far this season and the yard may well send Collaboration (5/2) here in the search for a hat trick after wins at Windsor and Epsom already this season. Although he has yet to tackle the twists and turns here, if he can handle the Epsom undulations he is clearly a well balanced sort and connections must be hoping he can run up three on the bounce despite a punishing ten pound weight rise for his latest easy victory.
With the Richard Fahey yard still firing in winners left right and centre it would be remiss of us to not mention Our Gabrial (14/1) who gets in here off bottom weight. From the name you may have guessed she is owned by Dr Marwan Koukash who loves nothing more than having a winner here, so she needs more respect than her recent form suggests, though she hasn’t won since last August and doesn’t actually head my list today! With Barry Hills and Paul Hanaghan a combo to be scared of we will at least follow the market for Elkaayed (25/1) even if the five year old gelding has plenty to prove. A decent two year old , he mixed it unsuccessfully in the highest grade last year which seems to have killed off his enthusiasm, and although perhaps well weighted IF he returns to his best, we have yet to see any evidence of that so far in two runs this season.
Although I suspect the stats tell me its all rubbish (they do its only a 20% strike rate), but top jockey Ryan Moore riding for his father Gary Moore always draws our attention as Ryan would have his pick of the rides so if he gets the leg up for the “old man”, surely it is a clue that the horse is at least fancied? In this case it’s top weight Rydan (10/1) who has the honour, and as they don’t give weight to donkeys, he must have a touch of class about him. Winning a Class Three handicap by six lengths and then finishing third to Grendisar in a Listed race, both at Kempton have been his downfall of late having been put up over a stone for his sins, and despite a poor run last time out the handicapper has failed to drop him an ounce, and good as he is, surely a place is the best they can realistically expect, World’s best jockey on board or not?