A prize-fund of £10,000 has yielded a decent field for this mile handicap and any number of these runners have got solid recent form in the book. See our tip and read the full betting preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Both London and Red Touch make appeal as horses who might return to their best soon enough and the market will be very interesting with regard to both, but LOYALTY is preferred having run an excellent race at this track a week ago. He finished behind one who was clearly back to his top level and as a result of turning out so quickly, is 4lbs well-in for a race he won 12 months ago off the same mark. The step up in trip will help and he looks ready to get back to winning ways.
PEARL SPECTRE – Disappointed at this course last week when well beaten over 7f but had been in good form before and won twice here in the space of a few days in November. The handicapper held sway after that but has eased Phil McEntee’s 6-year-old down to 85 and that’s the same rating he defied on the second of those victories. It makes him of some interest but today’s race is over 1 mile and his optimum distance is probably a furlong shorter. The percentage call is to oppose, especially from the widest stall.
LOYALTY – Finished well ahead of Pearl Spectre here a week ago and only found the nicely treated and well backed Outer Space too strong on the day, finishing a half-length behind Jamie Osborne’s charge. That represented one of his best runs this winter and Derek Shaw’s charge will not mind stepping back up to a mile, with his last 4 wins coming at the trip and 3 of them have been over this C&D. He’s officially 4lbs well-in here too and should go very well in a race he won off the same mark in 2016. A must for the shortlist.
LONDON – Stablemate of the top weight and yet to place in 3 runs since joining Phil McEntee’s yard from Aidan O’Brien in October. Shaped well for some time over 1m 2f here on debut and then ran a solid race when fourth at a mile around Lingfield, showing good early pace before weakening inside the final furlong. Disappointed in a higher grade at Wolverhampton subsequently but was too keen there and may not have enjoyed the Tapeta surface. Dropped a further 2lbs down to 81 and runs with a first time hood being added to his regular tongue tie. Might be one of the more interesting contenders at a price.
BYRES ROAD – Showed improved form at Newcastle (1m, Std) when second of 11 last week and only beaten a neck by a fast finishing sort who came from well off the pace to collar the 4-year-old late on. Should have no problem with switching to this track or surface having previously won his maiden over C&D last year and has a perfect draw in the lowest stall of them all. Bound to go well if replicating his latest effort but this race does look hotter and he might be vulnerable late on again if taken on for the lead.
SANDS CHORUS – Didn’t run to form when seventh behind Franco’s Secret at Kempton three weeks back but took a keen hold in a race where they went quick early and may have paid the price as a result. Previous to that disappointment, he had defeated Byres Road at Wolverhampton (1m ½f, Std) and meets that rival on the exact same terms here. Yet to run at this C&D and although it should suit his forward going style, there are worries as to whether his mark of 80 can be defied against some of today’s opposition.
RED TOUCH – Both handicap wins came at Southwell last March (7f & 1 mile) when switching yards to run for Mick Appleby. Ran some decent races since then but seemed to find 7f too sharp on his most recent pair of starts since returning from a summer break. He will definitely enjoy the extra yardage at this 1m trip and the Appleby stable are in flying form over the past fortnight (10 winners from 37 runners; 27% Strike Rate), so it’s impossible to rule him out. A hood is being used for the first time as well and from a nice draw in stall 2, he’s another worthy of a place on the shortlist with better to come sooner rather than later.
KING OF DREAMS – Represents the David Simcock yard who have an exceptional 23-109 (21%) record at this track but are out of form in recent times, with 0 winners from 20 runners in the last couple of weeks (4 seconds). The horse himself is yet to win in 4 attempts at handicapping level but shaped well at Newcastle last time when returning from six months off the track. He finished fourth in a decent contest but gives off the impression that a longer trip is needed and this mile might be sharp enough.
RAVEN HOE – Stablemate of Byres Road and is much more exposed having raced 33 times since making his debut less than a couple of years ago. Has shown numerous pieces of decent form and has placed at Class 4 level, but was mediocre when behind King Of Dreams at Newcastle and arrives with something to prove as a result. Yet to win off a mark higher than 69 and with his current mark being 4lbs higher than that, there’s too much for him to find in one of the best races he has contested to date.