A field of eleven go to post for the King Richard III Handicap at Pontefract on Tuesday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: It would be no surprise if Robero bounced back from his latest disappointment at Newcastle, but he is drawn poorly and will have competition for the lead from Courier, which should set this up for RUSSIAN REALM. He is now seven pounds below his last winning mark and ran a good race when second at Chester back in June. He had excuses at the Curragh subsequently and with rain forecast in the morning, that only further his claims. He needs to come off a strong pace which he should get in this thanks to the duelling front-runners and he will be too quick for them late on under Robert Winston.
1 ROBERO – Unchallenged when soaring away to win a Class 2 handicap at Ascot in May, though off eleven pound higher he was only able to grab fifth at Newcastle ten days ago. He is drawn wide today which makes tough as he will try to lead and a soft lead looks unlikely in this race also. Conditions will suit and Silvestre De Sousa takes over the ride, but he’s likely vulnerable off this mark for Michael Easterby.
2 COURIER – Decently drawn front runner for Marjorie Fife who should appreciate this return to a stiff six furlongs after struggling at York on her latest start. Prior to that, she made all comfortably at Haydock in June and she likely has further races in her off a mark of 88. With Robero in the line up a soft lead looks unlikely, but she is better drawn than that rival. Likely each way contender with Barry McHugh taking the ride and she’s not to be dismissed.
3 AVON BREEZE – Gained her eighth career success when winning a course and distance handicap eight days ago, squeezing through a gap to take victory by half a length. This is a tougher race and a penalty also makes this a harder task, with the fact she’s never followed up a victory another niggle. Possible each way contender if returning in the same form but she’s likely vulnerable for win purposes.
4 BAMBER BRIDGE – Impressively sauntered away from his rivals to win at Hamilton on his debut back as a two year old, backing that up with a good fourth in the £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes at Doncaster in September. He was last seen in October in a valuable Auction Stakes at Newmarket, well beaten in thirteenth which was very disappointing as he was the well backed 9/4 favourite. He makes his handicap debut in much calmer waters, with a mark of 92 perhaps lenient on what he’s previously shown. Paul Mulrennan takes the ride and he looks set to take all the beating.
5 RUSSIAN REALM – Inconsistent sort for Paul Midgley who was second on his penultimate start at Chester, with his latest start at the Curragh having excuses. He will need a very strong pace at this trip if he’s to be winning this and with two front runners in the field that should be granted to him as they will likely take eachother on. Rain is forecast which further boosts his claims and he’s currently seven pounds below his last winning mark, so he’s obviously well treated.Robert Winston takes the ride and he should be respected.
6 GOD WILLING – Two wins from thirty-four starts for this Declan Carroll inmate who is now four pounds below his last winning mark, though he is showing little to suggest he is up to winning again. He was last seen at York when well beaten over the seven furlongs and although a return to six could suit, it’s hard to see him winning this against some in form runners. Likely to just miss out on the money.
7 COOL BAHAMIAN – Course and distance winner for the in form Eve Johnson Houghton yard who ran well at Windsor on his latest start, finishing third and he’s now down a further two pounds in the handicap. He is well drawn and off a mark that is now two pounds below his last winning one, he looks set to go close with Charles Bishop taking the ride. He is ground versatile so any rain will be of little concern and he has to be respected.
8 TIGERWOLF – Mick Channon’s yard is on a hot-streak at present and he sends out this four year old who ran well on his final start of 2016 when sixth at Newmarket. He likely needed his return when fifth at Brighton in April and a return to six furlongs sees him very interesting under Graham Lee. Not one to discount in the first time head gear and he’s likely to be on the premises with conditions to suit.
9 MAGICAL EFFECT – Deadly consistent five year old who won three starts ago at Ripon before a close second at Thirsk two weeks later. He was below form on his latest start when only sixth at Nottingham in June, but it would be no surprise to see him bounce back, as he clearly is capable off a mark of 80 at his best. Likely each way contender if back to form under James Sullivan.
10 TAVENER – Back to form on his latest start when narrowly denied at Epsom on Thursday and he remains on the same mark. He is well drawn to attack under David Allan and looks a major player off a mark of 76, as he’s placed off much higher marks in the past. Ground conditions are fine and a return to six furlongs looks in his favour, so he needs to be respected.
11 MISHAAL – Course and distance winner for Michael Herrington but his losing run now extends back to July 2016 and although he’s five pounds lower, he’s been showing little signs he’s coming back to the boil. He was second at Ripon when last seen, but that was a poor claimer and others make far more appeal.