Race Time: 3.45pm Meeting: Chester Distance: 5f 16 yards
Full Race Name: Crabbie’s EBF Stallions Handicap Class Two
We are pretty certain the bookmakers just love these three year old handicaps as us punters attempt to second guess who has improved the most over the winter from two to three, a close to impossible puzzle on occasion. Naturally, over the minimum trip the draw is imperative, though as the field size has now fallen apart it may not be quite so imperative.
Wanting is a Charlie Appleby colt who won his first two races on the all-weather but has finished second and fourth since but has to be high on the list assuming he handles the likely softer going. Last time out at Doncaster he had his first taste of the turf when getting a troubled run behind Charlie Croker, but dropped back in trip and hopefully allowed to bowl along nearer to the early pace, he could surprise a few of his better fancied rivals here. In a small field, with a low draw, and with jockey Shane Grey claiming a pretty useful three pounds, he certainly looks the likeliest to take advantage of these conditions, though as mentioned we are taking for granted his ability to handle the softer ground.
Some would argue that Rita’s Boy deserves a change of fortune after finishing third at Southwell and ten second at both Nottingham and Ripon but then the draw in the seven stall gives him another excuse and he does come over as the sort who will find one or two too good if at all possible. Merdon Castle is of some interest for David Elsworth having placed in six of his eight starts in total, though that consistency has seen him clobbered b y the handicap which is why he sits here off top weight under Paul Hanagan. In a small field he may be able to overcome his poor draw, and he has the right jockey to cajole him in to giving his very best and we certainly would not be putting anyone off having an interest if they like his price. Anonymous John is another who shows consistency with fifteen consecutive races in the first four home, and with the three draw on his side he should run well. Problem is he prefers heavy ground on the turf to be seen to full effect, and we would be second guessing that factor, even up until race time if the weather continues as it has been recently.
Finally, we give you an outsider in Edgar Balthazar. His one win from one run record as a juvenile marked him down as one to keep on the right side of, but at three he has basically been a big let down. Two sixth places at Pontefract and then Doncaster over a sixth furlong have finally forced connections to drop him to the minimum trip, which may well bring out the best in him, especially off a ridiculously low handicap mark of 76 which could turn out to make him an each way option at a massive double figure price.