Nearly £8,000 to the winner of this mile handicap which has seen just the one joint-favourite win in the last ten years and odds of up to 20/1 so plenty of chances for each way speculation. Read on for our up to the minute race preview and our tip below.
IN SUMMARY: Not the easiest race to call but David O’Meara’s KHARBETATION showed unlimited promise on his debut and although not well handicapped on what he has actually shown do far, is open to any amount of improvement and may well keep his unbeaten record intact. Candelisa could go well if the rains stays away while Gurkha Friend loves it here and cannot be discounted for the places.
1 CANDELISA – A tricky to gauge gelding who would perhaps win this if repeating his third to Ballet Concerto first time out this season in the Spring Mile at Doncaster, but not on his thirteenth of fifteen on his only run since at Newbury when beaten by twenty-seven lengths at the line. The softer going may well have been his undoing that day but there is no guarantee it will be that much faster here though if it does dry out he would become an interesting contender.
2 KHARBETATION – Trainer David O’Meara is in reasonable form of late with eight winners from sixty-two runners in the last two weeks for s 13% strike rate, and has a very interesting contender here in the shape of this unbeaten son of Dream Ahead who won his only race to date at Thirsk when taking a mile maiden last July by five lengths, quickening away from the field in eye-catching fashion. The odds on runner-up won by five lengths himself next time out to boost the form, and he looks open to any amount of improvement. A rating of 93 seems high enough on what he has actually achieved and he seems to have his own ideas about the game but he won’t be far away today and belongs on any short list.
3 GURKHA FRIEND – Karen McLintock’s five-year-old gelding is looking to land a Ripon hat-trick after winning over this mile and then a furlong further last time out when all out to hold off Briardale last month. Up another three pounds for that he won’t find life quite as simple now but his course record of two wins from two runs has to put him in the firing line again today, though the stable are without a winner from just the four attempts in the last fortnight.
4 SWIFT EMPEROR – Started off well enough this season with a win on the Newcastle all-weather in March and finished one place behind Candelisa at Doncaster. One pound worse off today that leaves the five-year-old with a bit to find this afternoon and with the David Barron yard merely ticking over (8% courtesy of one winner in the last two weeks), others appeal that little bit more here.
5 STAMP HILL – Popular trainer Richard Fahey last one this in 2009 with Benandonner but will hope for a repeat in 2017 with Stamp Hill who will be ridden by stable stalwart Tony Hamilton. Three wins from fourteen starts is not a bad return but he hasn’t been at his best so far this season with an eighth of nine at Haydock and a twenty-second of twenty-four at Ascot, with both races over seven furlongs. This will be his first attempt at a mile but on breeding that doesn’t look an issue (he is by Zoffany), and dropped a pound for his last effort he is heading back toward a winning mark.
6 TWO FOR TWO – Twenty runs now without a win since scoring by length at Ayr back in June 2015 but the son of Danehill Dancer has already placed twice this season with a second at Ripon to Ghurka Friend and the same position behind Cote D’Azur at Thirsk in May. Four pounds better off with Ghurka Friend for a length and a half today he has every chance of reversing that form here but did run poorly last time at York though that was over a quarter of a mile further and he patently failed to see out the trip. One to consider back at the mile.
7 JUST HISS – Two wins in a row at Beverly and Musselburgh in August and September last year were followed by a career-best third to Weekend Offender in the Coral Stakes at York but Tim Easterby’s gelding failed to shine on his return to action at Doncaster in late April when seventh of eight to Fidaawy, tried unsuccessfully over a mile and a quarter. He may well strip a little bit fitter here and could go well if back to his very best over this more suitable trip and cannot be discounted despite being left on exactly the same handicap rating.
8 BAHAMA MOON – Used to be in the care of Andre Fabre in France where he won a single race from four runs but moved to David Barron in August 2015 and added another win on heavy ground at Redcar to his CV in March last year. He has been tried over all sorts of trip from seven furlongs to a mile and a half since without success and may well find this trip on the short side these days. he is dropping in class after a four and a quarter length fourth to Snoano at Pontefract but that was over ten furlongs and he may find some of these too quick for him here.
9 ROLLER – One of the lighter raced horses here with just the seven starts for Mick Easterby and wins on the all-weather at Newcastle and then at Redcar in April which he followed with a solid length third to Reaver at Nottingham, staying on at one pace over the mile off his new rating. This is a better race against better rivals and he could find them too good for him here, but he arrives in decent form and could still go well at a price.
10 QEYAADAH – A very disappointing sort who won first time out at Newbury over six furlongs but who hasn’t bothered the judge in nine races since. Six of those losses were while in the care of Ed Dunlop and the other three since moving to Michael Appleby with a six and a half length fifth of seven over this trip at Yarmouth last time out when looking as if this trip was a step too far. Likely to struggle again despite his shrewd stable who have had four winners in the last fourteen days.
11 BOOTS AND SPURS – Scott Dixon is very much the in-form trainer in this contest with five winners from his last twenty-one runners for a 24% strike rate and better still, 16 points of profit for his supporters. Last time out at Leicester he was a two-length fourth to Frank Bridge over this trip despite being hampered and the son of Oasis Dream could yet surprise with a clear run even if he is stepping up in class off the same handicaps mark this afternoon.