2.45pm Sandown – BetStars By Pokerstars Handicap Class Two – 1m 14yds
This is about as tough as it gets on a particularly tricky day but trainer Clive Cox and jockey Adam Kirby make a formidable team and have a 14% strike rate over the last five years, but 28% so far this season for a tasty level stakes profit They get together again with Laidback Romeo (12/1 Each Way) here and we will be backing him each way this afternoon. Running off a mark of 84 today, that is a full six pounds higher than his best ever winning effort, which took place pretty much this time last year at Windsor, but if he has improved for another winter’s growth as we hope, he could yet get in to the places this afternoon. Yet to win first time out, he has finished third in both 2014 and 2015 so an each way bet is the sensible option, though a market watch will give us all a pretty good idea if the yard fancy his chances or not.
Martin Harley will be hoping for a decent pay day on board William Knight’s Secret Art (12/1) who will be cherry ripe after three runs already this season, culminating with a third to Chevallier at Sandown when possibly left with a bit too much to do by William Buick and closings slowly near the line. If his new jockey can keep him a bit nearer the action earlier in the race before producing him with a run late on, then he could possibly make it in to a place at a big price, but the handicapper does seem to have his measure, and we feel a win could well be beyond him off a mark of 92 all be it only just.
Poor old owner George Materna must be wondering when the handicappers will finally relent with his Czech it (14/1) Out, now a six-year-old but without win in his last seven races. In May last year he took a seven-furlong handicap off a mark of 84 but was put up to 90 for his sins, and struggled ever since. He did finish a neck second at Newbury, picking up another £3,728 in place prize money, but was then put up another three pounds and is still waiting to get back down to a winning mark. Although they get put up in lumps, he has only come down a pound at a time but has his best chance in a while off of 88 today, with the booking of Ryan Moore possibly significant for Sussex trainer Amanda Perrett.
Lastly, Sir Michael Stoute has an interesting one in here with Mutamakkin (4/1), a lightly raced son of War Front who has clearly had his issues. A maiden win in 2014 at York promised plenty but he only managed the one run when last in 2015 and may well have needed both his races this year. If that assumption is correct then he may well be a blip on the handicap today and we will be watching his run with interest.
King’s Pavilion (11/2) ends our short list off bottom weight for Mark Johnston but that place is only thanks to his three-year-old’s allowance, and he looks to have a serious chance. Last time out at Epsom he saw off Stamp Hill, running on strongly over the seven furlongs, and upped to a mile today he certainly has a decent chance of doubling up.
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