As the current going description at Ripon is good to firm, it’s hard to look past the current favourite in this race, Blackrod. In three starts on good, he’s yet to finish out of the first three whilst winning twice. With a strong record on good to firm also, conditions drying out further wouldn’t be a problem.
He is now rated 4lb higher than when winning at Newmarket back in April having been dropped 1lb for finishing seventh in the Wokingham. That run was better than the bare result suggests and the race should be run to suit here at Ripon.
He’s relatively lightly-raced for a four-year-old having had just 10 starts. It’s perfectly conceivable that there’s more to come from this horse who could go on to Listed and lesser Group races if winning here. (Liam Bramall)
I am siding with Liam on this one; I also think it is very hard to look past the current favourite for the race. Blackrod oozes a bit of class for a handicap of this nature and 6f is his optimum trip, having won over it three times already.
He only faded in the last 100 yards when a creditable seventh in the Wokingham, which is a much stronger race than this. The fast ground will be very much to his liking and he still has low mileage on the clock so he also has a progressive profile.
Blackrod is having his first start for the Bethell stable here after leaving Michael Dods and Bethell knows full well it is a huge opportunity for the yard to land a big pot. He should have him spot on for this and he is going to take all the beating for me. (Adrian Wall)
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