A winner, a near miss and a big disappointment were the order of the day last Friday. Ben Curtis continued his good form in partnering Tommy De Vito to an easy three-length success at Newcastle. William Haggas’ Qaabil was beaten narrowly at Lingfield whilst Art Of America’s bid for a Dundalk three-timer came up a fair way short.
Hoping for a little more luck this week, here’s three runners from the All-Weather action who caught the eye from Dundalk, Lingfield and Wolverhampton. We’re looking forward to Trials’ Day at Cheltenham on Saturday, which features on ITV alongside Doncaster.
Simon Walker is possibly the best amateur rider out there, riding thirty winners over the past five seasons. He’s enjoyed plenty of success at Lingfield, riding six horses to victory from just twelve runners, including in this Amateur race in 2017 and 2018, as well as back in 2014.
He goes to the Polytrack course for just one ride today, the in-form ICE PYRAMID. Formerly owned by Godolphin, the gelding finished third in his first two either side of a year-long break for Philip Kirby. A switch to handicap company saw him take a further step forward, bolting up by five-lengths eight days ago.
The son of New Approach makes a quick return to the track today under a five pound penalty. He’s five pounds ahead of the assessor, only rated 80 despite posting an RPR of 88. Partnered by the best amateur in the business and well-in, he could take some beating.
It won’t surprise many to know that Irishman John McConnell has had just ten runners at Wolverhampton over the past five years. What is surprising is that the yard are operating at 50% at the Midlands-course over that period.
One of those five winners came courtesy of YAMATO in October. Sent off 6/1, the gelding made smooth progress to go six-lengths clear coming into the final furlong. Ridden by an apprentice there, he was eased down to score by just a short head from one who’s scored twice since. He ultimately would have won with a lot more in hand had Sean Davis not done that.
As a result, he appears still well treated off a twelve pound higher mark. The seven-year-old ran a shock at Newcastle after a short break in December but he returned to form at Dundalk four days later, beaten just half-a-length in a deeper contest. Back to Wolverhampton, under the in-form Ben Curtis, he could well increase his yard’s impressive record here.
Highly tried as a younger horse, YUFTEN has always enjoyed his racing at Dundalk. He was beaten a head on stable debut back in 2016 before bolting up, both runs for Johnny Murtagh. Returning to Ireland in 2018, he’s scored six times at the Polytrack course since. His form figures at the track now read an impressive 21111202113613.
The veteran ran out an easy winner on his third start since returning to Denis Hogan in December. He put close to three-lengths between himself and one now rated five pounds higher. He’s been pushed up eight pounds for that, but he remains twenty three pounds below his highest rating.
The gelding will appreciate the return to handicap company having finished held in third behind rivals rated in the 100s last time out. He just appeared a little stretched by a mile there. Returned to seven, rated the highest in this handicap, a return to winning ways could be on the horizon.