There is £4,500 in guaranteed prize money for this mile and a quarter event and, with a couple of course winners in the field, we should be in for a closely matched contest. See our full race preview and our selection for the 4.25pm at Brighton this afternoon.
IN SUMMARY: The handicapper may have the measure of Av A Word now and the better value call has to be Richard Hannon’s PREROGATIVE (Each Way) who has some very solid placed form. He looked as though he would do even better back at this trip after failing to see it out over further when third at Lingfield last time out.
1 ODEN – Still a maiden after four starts, but the Roger Varian trained gelding made his handicap debut last time out at Ripon when keeping on at the one pace over a mile and a quarter, a length and three-quarters behind winner Bahkit and a length and three-quarters in front of third placed Dream Machine. Put up a sensible two pounds for that run, he doesn’t look harshly handicapped off a mark of 76 and seems likely to be one of the challengers in the finish here with any further improvement. The stable are ticking over with 11% winners thanks to four successes from 38 runners and he is clearly one for the shortlist today.
2 PREROGATIVE – Owned by The Royal Ascot Racing Club, he is still a maiden after 15 starts which has to be a slight concern. Nevertheless, the son of Rock Of Gibraltar has placed 11 times, with six seconds and five thirds so he clearly has plenty of ability. Last time out he finished third to Pete So High at Lingfield over further than this, weakening close home and he should do much better at this trip which is far more within his range.
3 HAULANI – Trainer Philip Hide has added blinkers for the first time this afternoon as he looks to get a third win out of his three-year-old gelding. He has already been successful here at Brighton over seven furlongs to take his maiden as a juvenile, as well as at Salisbury over a mile on his handicap debut in a nursery. Interestingly, he runs off the same rating of 73 this afternoon, but hasn’t won in five starts this season since being gelded, with a staying on third over this trip at Windsor last time out. He does, however, have Hector Crouch on board who is excellent value for his three pound claim.
4 AV A WORD – Daniel Kubler’s son of Aussie Rules is on a roll at the moment and is looking to land his hat-trick here after wins over this course and distance. He more recently won over this trip at Epsom when he saw off Maraakib by a very easy length and a quarter at the end of last month. The dreaded handicapper has put him up five pounds for that, but he was only toying with his rivals that day and another big run is very much on the cards here with Luke Morris taking over from Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle. With three wins from three starts over this trip here on the coast, his chance is there for all to see. After his last win, Silvestre said, “Av A Word does not want to get there too soon so I was happy to take my time. He’s won at Brighton so the track was never going to be an issue and he’s picked up really well for me. Daniel Kubler has done a great job with the horse”. That suggests that he will be finishing fast and late again today but, with no evidence on he will handle this ground, he looks far too short under the circumstances.
5 FUNKY FOOTSTEPS – The daughter of Footstepsinthesand won on her debut over six furlongs in June 2016 as a juvenile, but is yet to add to that in eight further starts. Even so, she has run well without success on numerous occasions, with plenty of placed efforts. Last time out she tried making the running at Salisbury over this trip before being swamped by both Viking Hoard and favourite Know Your Limit. However, she is even more effective coming from off the pace and should be able to challenge if she can repeat that effort on this considerably softer ground.
6 PINK RIBBON – Sylvester Kirk’s gelding finished two lengths behind easy winner Av A Word last time out at Epsom when having to be switched after failing to get a clear run; he can surely finish slightly closer today on two pounds better terms. He races off of a mark of 65 today – and has won off of 68 – so is not being asked to do anything beyond his abilities. That said, he still looks to have a little to find if he wants to reverse Epsom form this afternoon.