IN SUMMARY: A difficult Class 6 handicap with a number of out of form horses hoping to bounce back, and our tip MOON ARROW looks best placed to do so. Despite initially showing promise over hurdles, he has struggled the last twice – including when breaking a blood vessel – and now returns to the flat. He was in good form when last seen in this sphere on the All Weather in December, and if returning to form then he is well handicapped off a mark of 52. Eben Dubai ran well at big odds ten days ago despite finishing last over an inadequate trip and is worth watching in the market turned out quickly her, while Hallingham boasts the best reent form having finished second at Lingfield three weeks ago but needs to prove he can be as effective at this course having finished well down the field on his only previous run here.
1 Skylark Lady – Last seen two months ago when pulling up over hurdles on her first start for Nikki Evans, but ran well when last seen on the flat in January at Lingfield. She has run well twice at this course, including when third over slightly further, and won at Lingfield on her only start on Good to Firm. She should be able to run well if bouncing back from her hurdles run but she doesn’t look well handicapped on her previous form off a mark of 59.
2 The Detainee – Dane O’Neill has an impressive 19% strike rate at Bath and has been booked by Jeremy Gask to ride this four year old maiden. His best run to date came last time out on his ninth career start when finishing a close second over this trip on the All Weather, but his form on this surface doesn’t amount to much and he has been hit by a two pound rise by the handicapper. One to watch in the market but he has struggled with consistency and is yet to put two solid runs together back to back.
3 Hallingham – Promising apprentice Holly Doyle takes off three pounds, which puts this seven year old back to the same effective mark as when finishing second last time out at Lingfield three weeks ago. That was his first run for new trainer Ken Cunningham-Brown, and he had been rated as high as 67 back in 2014. His last run showed that ability clearly remains but he was well beaten on his last two turf starts including here in July and more proof is needed of a resurgence in form.
4 Eben Dubai – Initially owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum for his first three starts as a two and three year old when trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he was well beaten on each start and disappeared off the radar following being sold in November 2015 for just £2,000. He made his reappearance over a mile at this course ten days ago for new trainer Tracey Barfoot-Saunt, running well for a long way but finding himself outpaced in the final furlongs. He showed enough promise for his previous connections to suggest he can win off a mark in this region but this quick run after a long break may come too soon. One to watch closely in the market and he may find better opportunities later in the season.
5 Golden Muscade – A lightly raced four year old who has had just six races and only one on the turf, although he is yet to finish better than fourth – and that was well beaten in a five runner race. Her two forays into handicap company off marks of 62 and 56 at similar trips to today have seen her well beaten and her mark may need to fall further still to win a race based on her form so far.
6 Petrify – Two wins from 31 starts on the flat came in back to back races in July 2016, and this seven year old remains two pounds higher in the handicap than when winning the latter of those races. Well beaten on his latest three starts over hurdles, he has pieces of form which would make him competitive here despite his mark and Jamie Spencer is an eye catching booking with just one other ride on the card in the 4.00pm. Market support would be interest but a tough one to trust.
7 Moon Arrow – Our tip for this contest as this four year old returns to the flat, having struggled over hurdles the last twice after initially showing promise when finishing second on his debut in that sphere. His last flat start saw him run well at Wolverhampton over 9.5 furlongs when staying on all the way to the line. This trip will suit and off the same mark as that day with Mitch Godwin taking off an extra five pounds he offers good value in an open race.
8 The Quarterjack – Now eight years old, three of his six wins have come at this course and five in a higher class than this. However, he has won just once in his last 22 starts and, despite another change of trainer in July, he continues to struggle off an ever decreasing mark. Now racing off just 52, twenty pounds below his last victory, the drop back in trip is unlikely to bring about any change in fortunes.
9 Awesome Rock – Another eight year old, Roger Ingram’s charge has struggled off similar marks to this since his one and only victory back in April 2015, 27 starts ago. He has finished in the runner up spot four times in that period, but his general consistency has led to little generosity from the handicapper, and he has been dropped just five pounds. He has struggled to be competitive off a mark one pound higher on the All Weather for the last year and unless the switch back to turf brings about a surprise return to form he will continue to find things difficult today.
2 The Detainee.