Saturday 7th March, 2.50pm Wolverhampton – 1 mile 141 yards, live on Channel 4
Interestingly not one of the ten runners in this handicap is returning from a winter off so no real arguments can be made over fitness issues with Pearl Nation (9/1) the longest absent after 54 days off the track. Michael Appleby trains the six year old who has been put up three pounds for a course and distance victory back in mid January though that was just a short head victory and the handicapper may have him now.
Billingsgate (6/1) is clearly one of the lesser lights in the Charlie Appleby yard judging on his last of sixteen at Meydan when last seen in action, but the yard are in hot form still and seem capable of winning just about any race they enter. He will have trained on this Tapeta surface, which could be a bonus so we cannot simply write him off, yet there are others who arrive in better form who could still finish in front of him.
Two four year olds stand out as potential improvers, starting with Mindurownbusiness (9/2) who is trained in Newmarket by Roger Varian. A look at his form suggests he is at his best with some strong assistance from the saddle and Graham Lee is as strong as it gets which must be a major positive, while his win last time out at Kempton was done with a bit up his sleeve, which may negate the seven pounds weight rise inflicted by the handicapper.
David Simcock also trains in Newmarket and he lets Halation (9/2) take his place in the line up after scoring last time out at Lingfield by a head. He wasn’t overly impressive that day and has been put up in the weights for his sins, but talented apprentice jockey Tom Marquand takes off seven pounds meaning he could still be in the mix up inside the final furlong IF he can improve again, of course.