It's nearly the weekend and the myriad of betting opportunities that brings, so a couple of winners this afternoon to help boost funds would not go amiss.
Today’s nap was all set to be Walden Prince, an impressive winner at Southwell and Newton Abbot recently, who is bidding for his hat-trick in the 2m handicap chase at Uttoxeter (4.25pm). It looks a penalty kick but that’s a view shared by the bookmakers and we’re being asked to take odds-on. No thanks!
Back to the drawing board then and it could be worth waiting for the closing 1m handicap for fillies at Newmarket (8.45pm). It’s a trappy contest at first glance, with the first five in the betting priced between 7/2 and 11/2 currently, but the Charlie Hills-trained STAR OF SPRING looks the one to be on.
A nicely bred sort, she didn’t show a great deal in her five juvenile starts and is clearly one of the stable lesser lights. However, she looks to be improving with racing and ran her best race to date when third over 7f at Newbury last time. Steadied at the start and last early, she made smooth headway well over a furlong before taking third spot close home, and on that evidence she will appreciate the extra furlong she tackles here.
The handicapper has kindly dropped her a 1lb to a mark of 74 and her trainer will no doubt be keen to find an opening soon to boost her paddock value. He said in his Weekender column: “Star Of Spring ran her best race last time and I hope she can build on that in the Newmarket Nights Fillies’ Handicap. She should win off her mark.”
Of her main rivals, Stone Roses is now 8lb higher for beating just four rivals at Chepstow last time, while top weight Spirited Acclaim has twice been beaten off her current mark, including in a low-grade contest at Windsor last time. The selection is fancied to have their measure.
The 2m handicap run at Ascot (2.55pm) this afternoon houses the second bet in the shape of Sir Mark Prescott’s HIGH SECRET. The son of High Chaparral rattled off a quick hat-trick in the autumn of 2014, when stepped up to middle distances, and has improved again this term judging by his latest success at Catterick, where he was always holding Sands Of Fortune by nearly three lengths and finished full of running over the 2m trip.
A 5lb rise in the weights doesn’t seem too harsh given his superiority and he has the physical scope to keep on improving. He’ll make a lovely jumper in time, but there’s a nice race in him on the flat before then and this valuable prize looks well within his compass. There’s heavy rain forecast but that’s no concern as he handled ‘good to soft’ at Catterick well, whereas it might inconvenience some of his rivals.