2.25pm York – Spanish City
Lightly raced five year old for Roger Varian who can continue to progress in handicaps. He was a good 6th in the Victoria Cup when arguably given too much to do from the rear of the field before getting up late in the day at Doncaster to get the better of Mazzini and Escobar (latter has won since). Only raised 3lb for that win and there’s more in the locker, Ryan Moore booked and Varian’s horses are in great form.
2.40pm Chester – Austrian School
Typically tough Mark Johnston type who won over course on distance on his penultimate start. Not disgraced over further when upped to this class last time and continues to improve after winning 4 of his 7 starts. I expect PJ McDonald to bounce him out prominently and make it a test from the front, tactics which work well at this track.
3.00pm York – Marmelo
This is a drop in class for Hughie Morrison’s stayer who has all the credentials to tear this field apart. A Group 2 winner last season when beating subsequent Doncaster Cup winner Desert Skyline. He was also second to Breeders Cup Turf winner Talismanic and sent off joint favourite for the Melbourne Cup (where he finished 9th) last year before making a more than encouraging reappearance when a neck behind the talented Vazirabad. A repeat of that effort should see him claim this comfortably.
3.10pm Chester – Highland Pass
Lost her way a bit but is drastically dropping down the weights and a return to this track with a hood reapplied could be just what the doctor ordered. A first and a second here, both with the hood on, shows she handles the quirks of Chester and if bouncing back to form, is well-handicapped.
3.15pm Sandown – Almoreb
Hasn’t quite put his best foot forward yet this season, but he’s capable of better based on last years form, at this track in particular. A third here behind The Grape Escape and Sharja Bridge is good form as those two have proved themselves to be well-handicapped off those marks and Almoreb is 3lb lower today. His second at Newmarket recently was promising given the winner stole a march on the whole field and the rear certainly wasn’t the place to be but he ran on well. I can forgive him his run over 7f at Doncaster last time which was too short and he got denied a run at a crucial time.
3.35pm York – Snazzy Jazzy
Racked up a hat-trick last season, including in a big field at the Curragh, but was slightly disappointing in the Free Handicap on his return. That was over 7f and I don’t think he saw the trip out, he travelled strongly into it and hit the front at one stage but weakened quite tamely and this drop back to 6f should be ideal. That was his first run of the season so fitness could also have been a factor, Ryan Moore is booked and he’s 5-9 (56%) when riding for Clive Cox in the past 5 years.
3.50pm Sandown – Mutakatif
I’ve been waiting for this horse to come out for some time and today is finally the day. He makes his handicap debut off a mark of 87 which I think is simply far, far too lenient. On debut he split Finniston Farm (100) and Learn By Heart (98) before doing the same with Expert Eye (111) and Barraquero (111). When last seen he beat a horse called Spud at Chester who came out and won by a huge 15 lengths next time. Basically, Mutakatif is chucked in, but it is his seasonal reappearance so if he doesn’t do the business today I won’t be giving up on him.
4.25pm Sandown -Bathsheba Bay
Strong form last year tying in with Red Mist, Dee Ex Bee and Breath Caught make a mark of 87 more than workable. Ran well in competitive race on reappearance when finishing 4th, 2nd and 5th have both won since and there should be more to come from Richard Hannon’s charge.
5.00pm Sandown – Mutanaqel
Likely a couple of decent types in this maiden, but Mutanaqel’s price is just too big to leave alone. Runner up in a pair of decent races as a two year old, the first of which behind one-time Derby hope Ghaiyyath and the second was at Chelmsford when splitting 3 horses that contested the London Gold Cup (one of them won it). Has been gelded over the winter and shapes as though this step up in trip will suit.
5.30pm Chester – Lorelina
She takes well to tricky tracks with wins at Epsom and a second on her only appearance here. Has been dropped 2lb for good 5th in a much better race at Epsom last time (Class 2) which looks generous. Bumped into one when last in a Class 4 who has since won a Group 3, can certainly win this as she’s drawn well plus both trainer and jockey do well here. The ground would be a slight concern but as long as it’s not rattling quick, she should be ok.
7.10pm Leicester – Sergio Leone
Fair novice form but the last time out 4th on handicap debut is very eye-catching, he lost plenty of ground by coming wide off the bend at Lingfield and finished the race strongly to almost snatch third. The 1st and 2nd have both won since and there should be plenty more to come from Sergio Leone.
7.40pm Leicester – Lashabeeh
Has been unlucky to bump into three way above average types in novice events, he’s been second to Desert Doctor (95), Emblazoned (106) and Embour (85) in all of his completed starts. Makes his handicap debut off a mark of 79 which gives him a massive chance with his trainer in top form.
Snazzy Jazzy (12/1 bet365 – 5 Places) & Bathsheba Bay (11/1) – 0.5pt EW Double
Spanish City (5/2) & Marmelo (7/4) – 1pt Win Double
Austrian School (7/2), Highland Pass (7/2), Almoreb (6/1) & Lorelina (4/1) – 0.1pt Win Lucky 15
Mutakatif (7/2), Sergio Leone (9/2) & Lashabeeh (3/1) – 0.5pt Trixie + 1.5pt Win Singles
Mutanaqel (7/1) – 1pt Win Single