3.40pm Ripon Tips & Beting Preview 21/05/2017

An excellent feature race on Sunday afternoon at Ripon, a class 2 handicap over nine furlongs.

IN SUMMARY: With Weekend Offender now a non runner, the race provides an excellent opportunity for SNOANO who is dropping down from Group company. Miss Van Gogh is starting to look well enough handicapped if her stamina holds going beyond a mile. The rest are looking plenty high enough in the weights but Rainbow Rebel may still be open to further improvement.

1 SNOANO – Consistent handicapper since joining Tim Easterby, he steps down a furlong in trip having won over 10f at Pontefract two starts ago. That stiff track appeared to suit him well, especially as his first win for connections was over a mile and a half at York. He ran respectably pitched into a Group 3 at Chester last time, finding himself now back in a handicap off a career high mark. He has taken his form to a new level this season and with recent rain taking the sting out of the ground, there will be no excuses on that front and he will be very hard to beat.

2 KNIGHT OWL – A winner over this trip at Newmarket on his return last season, he continued to show smart form in subsequent defeats, including when a short head second at this track last season from a one pound lower mark. He was nailed close to the line on that occasion and although he has won over 9f, this trip is a stretch of his stamina so apprentice, George Wood, will need to give him a canny ride. Has the ability to hit the frame off this mark if able to challenge late enough in the piece.

3 BRIARDALE – Recipient of an excellent front running ride by Jim Crowley when making every yard last time out at Newcastle. That has pushed him up to a career high mark, stepping up from a Class 4 to a Class 2. He has attempted this level just once in the past when a well seen off eleventh at Newmarket last September. Good ground is fine for him but runs on softer have been poor so any more rain is going to make an already difficult looking task even more so.

4 EMPRESS ALI – In stark contrast to Briardale, the more rain the better for Tom Tate’s mare, who closed out her 2016 campaign with an emphatic victory at Pontefract on soft ground. That was over an extra furlong and her stamina reserves are unlikely to be as effective on this sharper track. That win has catapulted her to a career high mark and for a yard who are only 3/65 since October 2015, she is probably best watched on this occasion.

5 GURKHA FRIEND – The undulations of Ripon are not enjoyed by all but Gurkha Friend made light work of them when making every yard of the running over a mile here in April. He has only twice run beyond that trip, both times, comfortably seen off at the business end. He will likely face competition for the lead here, a fact that will not help his already unproven stamina last home.

6 STRONG STEPS – Sixth in the Spring Mile to begin his campaign for new trainer, Roger Fell looked a promising start, a pair of subsequent efforts – including at York earlier in the week – have been disappointing. One could excuse him the Newmarket defeat, stuck out on a limb in a small group of 3, the race didn’t pan out in his favour. The York running leaves him with a bit to prove at this level, turned back around quickly after just four days. That extended his winless streak on turf to eleven and with two wins and two seconds from just seven starts on the All Weather, he is beginning to form a profile of a sand only runner.

7 WEEKEND OFFENDER – Lightly raced sort for Kevin Ryan, his profile is one of an upwardly mobile handicapper. The race he was third in at Nottingham is working out well, with winner George William running a pair of smart races since in deep handicaps, and runner up G K Chesterton winning at Newmarket on Friday. That effort can be upgraded still further as he was very slow to break in a race where it paid to be handy, before having to switch widest of all to get a run. It is a little surprising that the handicapper keeps him on the same mark so, if in the same heart again, he is going to be tough to beat.

8 RAINBOW REBEL – Gritty front runner last season – in typical Mark Johnson fashion – scoring four times on the bounce on ground varying from good to firm to heavy. There is likely to be plenty of competition for the lead here so he will not find it easy to dominate but he sat midfield when runner up at Nottingham last backend so he has the potential to be ridden with restraint. He ran poorly on his 2017 return but runners from his yard often bounce back from a disappointing effort and he may make the frame.

9 SILVERY MOON – Picked up a pair of handicaps off similar marks last season on soft and heavy ground. He has won on quicker in the past but connections are likely to be wanting a little more rain for their veteran. He has run nine times at this track without being able to get his head in front although he has made the frame three times. He doesn’t look ready to take advantage of this mark on his laborious efforts so far this season and he is best watched.

10 MISS VAN GOGH – Another for whom rain would be beneficial, she won off a pound lower mark last Spring at Nottingham. That was over an extended mile so this extra half furlong shouldn’t prove to be any problem, despite her poor record when tried at further than a mile in the past. She shaped well when behind Gurkha Friend on her return and would be very interesting if there is any support for her in the market this afternoon.

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