A couple of sprint handicaps, one at Newmarket and the other at Thirsk, come under scrutiny and we're tipping up 6/1 and 5/1 shots respectively.
Having covered this afternoon’s feature Lockinge Stakes elsewhere on this site, I’m going to go have a crack at a couple of sprint handicaps here.
Let’s start with the Junction 17 Cars Sprint Trophy at Newmarket (3.25pm) which will be contested by 11 horses, none of whom can be ruled out with any confidence. Bookmakers have settled on William Haggas’ Properus as favourite and it’s easy to see why as he ran a cracker when second over course and distance at the Craven meeting here. Just 2lb higher here and with his stable starting to click into top gear (excuse the pun), he must go well.
However, the layers are hardly giving him away at just 3/1 and the form of the Newmarket race took a knock when the third Spiriting was turned over at odds-on on his next start. There’s also a suspicion he would be better suited by an extra furlong on ground as fast as he’s to encounter here and, when you add all that up, he’s opposable at the current odds.
Let’s take him on with the Kevin Ryan-trained CAPTAIN COLBY, who is available to back at 6/1 with bet365. He is another lightly-raced progressive sort, having had just four starts , winning twice, and the booking of William Buck catches the eye. The fact he is making his reappearance this afternoon might be construed as a negative, but any worries on that score are taken care of by his trainer’s bullish comments in a recent Stable Tour.
He said: “He won first time out last year at Thirsk and finished off by winning at Chester off a mark of 80, for which he went up 9lb. He’s much stronger this year and has been working well, so I hope he can progress. He’s ready to start and was going to run at Chester last week, but the ground was too soft. He could go to Newmarket on Saturday.”
Up next is the Andy Davis 50th Birthday Handicap at Thirsk (4.15pm) – many happy returns Andy if you’re reading! A birthday winner would be good and I’ve no hesitation in putting up James Tate’s four-year-old filly BLHADAWA at the forecast 5/1 – she’s that price currently with Betfair but hoping for slightly better as more firms open up.
She is one of least exposed runners in the field after just five starts and, with the possible exception of course winner Meshardal, who is chasing a four-timer here, is the form horse having won her last two starts on the all-weather at Lingfield, bolting up by three and a quarter lengths on the latest of those.
The handicapper has raised her 9lb for that effort, but I doubt that is enough to stop her and she could turn out to be a good deal better than a handicapper. You only have to look at her second at Newmarket on her racecourse debut for evidence of that as she had subsequent Royal Ascot winners Kiyoshi and Rizeena behind in fourth and fifth, and the latter filly went in to be successful at Group 1 level.
Taking that admittedly old form (April 2013) literally, she is a good thing off a mark of 89 this afternoon and it would be no surprise to see her end up competing in Listed company before the season is out. Her trainer certainly thinks she’s capable of that and was very complimentary in a recent Stable Tour.
He said: “She is very talented, but her career has been blighted by lots of setbacks and little injuries. She came back in January when second after a long layoff and that put her spot on for a 6f maiden, which she won by six lengths. She then took a handicap over course and distance with consummate ease and is now up to 89, but I think know she is better than a handicapper and we will start her off in a Listed race at Nottingham on May 9. We think a lot of her and I hope that is well within her compass.”
I’ve no idea why she didn’t the up that Nottingham engagement, but I like to think it’s because her trainer wants to exploit her generous mark and pick up the not so inconsiderable sum of £7,439 for winning this Thirsk contest.