This is a tricky handicap over 1 mile 6 furlongs, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Andrew Balding has an exceptional record at Southwell (30% strike rate) and his handicap debutant PARIS BOUND looks to have an excellent chance in this. He displayed improvement on his last start and a liking for this surface and has an interesting entry at the weekend which he could race in without a penalty if he’s successful here. He gets the vote again of Cosmic Tigress who has the assistance of a leading Amateur rider in Simon Walker.
1 THREE COLOURS RED – Recent recruit to the Robert Stephens yard having raced just once for the stable so far. That run was over an extended 2 miles at Newbury where he finished third of five but was beaten by 25 lengths and whilst the form is not that useful, it does mean he arrives here fit and will be sharper for that experience. He was last seen on the flat in June 2016 in a tougher race than this but was well-beaten off just 1lb higher. He’s hard to fancy today on the back of that.
2 NOGUCHI – Hasn’t raced off a mark as low as this since April 2015 and he has run with credit this winter notching up three placed efforts. A couple of those runs came in a higher grade than this which also includes one excellent effort over C&D. A reproduction of that should see him go close here although he is 12 years of age and he’s vulnerable to any sort of improving type. He should run his race again but others make more appeal.
3 COSMIC TIGRESS – Added a third victory to her name last time out over this trip at Wolverhampton when winning off 58. The handicapper has been sensible and only raised her 2lbs for that effort given she only scraped home by a nose but connections look to have found her a good opportunity again to complete the double. She gets the services of a premier Amateur in Simon Walker who has an excellent 43% strike rate at Southwell. She will be very prominent in the betting.
4 PARIS BOUND – Least exposed runner in the field and is of real interest on handicap debut. He started life off in National Hunt flat races and has been switched to the flat recently which saw him finish second of five behind a runaway winner at Southwell in early March. That came over 2 furlongs shorter than today’s trip but that shouldn’t be a problem given he’s by Champs Elysees and he has an excellent chance to show he’s above this level. He’s also entered into a handicap on Saturday at Chelmsford. Very interesting in this.
5 DUC DE SEVILLE – Yard have an awful 2% strike rate here (2 winners from 82 runners) and his runner here is very difficult to fancy. He was pulled up on his last start over 3 miles and a furlong and was last seen on the flat back in November when he was thrashed by 23 lengths off 6lbs higher. The drop to a mark of 50 doesn’t look as if it’ll be enough to see him get competitive here and he’s easily avoided.
6 RAINBOW LAD – Yard are thriving with 5 winners in the past fortnight and his runner returns off a small break here. He’s twice a winner having scored over 1m 2f and 1m 4f but he’s not been that impressive at Southwell and there is a slight question mark as to the suitability of this surface. He’s on a workable mark now raised just 1lb for his latest run and he is well-treated at today’s weights. Should run a big race if he truly handles this surface.
7 TOBOGGAN’S GIFT – 1 win from 17 runs and that came at Southwell over 1m 4f in a seller back in February of last year. She remains 3lbs higher than that winning mark although she did put in another good placed effort off a mark of 51 so she’s not completely out of her depth off this rating. She’s not ideally treated at the weights which makes things difficult but the yard do well here (15% strike rate) and she’s worth consideration.
8 MONZINO – Second runner in this for Michael Chapman and like his stablemate, it’s hard to envisage success. His last victory came back in February 2015 off 1lb higher and he’s been well-held off similar marks to that this winter at Southwell and life will be even harder today on these terms. He has far too much to do to be a betting proposition here.
9 THACKERAY – Trainer without a win from 21 runners here and his runner last won over a similar trip to this back in summer of last year. He has been an inconsistent sort since but he has placed off 2lbs higher over C&D and he’s no forlorn hope now aged 10 and badly treated at the weights with a few of these. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him win, but it would be equally unsurprising to see him tailed off.
10 CRAKEHALL LAD – Races off 1lb out of the handicap in this and hard to make a case for this runner who has shown very poor form of late. He’s tried in a hood for the first time although it’s difficult to imagine that will make much difference given he was beaten off this mark by 18 1/2 lengths last time out. Trainer without a winner here in 12 attempts and another overlooked for a more unexposed type.