Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action.
Charlie Hills is starting to train winners again after a quiet spell with three coming in the last nine days, all at decent prices (12/1, 14/1 & 6/1). He could be in for a good end to the season and has chances at Haydock this afternoon.
His CORAL SEA (NON-RUNNER) might be his best hope of a winner in the opening 5f nursery as she is making her handicap debut off what looks a fair mark (74), having run well on her three maiden starts. A 100,000gns yearling, she ran very free on her Newbury debut over 6f but was still in with every chance 1f out, before proving no match for one with more experience late on. Dropping back to the minimum for her next starts, she again showed plenty of pace only to find a couple too good on each occasion, with the fast ground possibly to blame.
Ground conditions will be more favourable this afternoon and with Hills reporting her to be going “okay” at home, a career-best effort would not surprise. The booking of James Doyle clinches the bet for me as he’s been riding with plenty of confidence of late and can make the most of what looks a good draw in stall four. As it’s a handicap you can make a case for several others with Four Dragons in particular feared, but the selection looks open to the most improvement.
Doyle gets the leg up on Brian Meehan’s FOX TROTTER in the mile handicap and the four-year-old, who is the trainer’s sole runner at the track, could outrun his 12/1 price tag now that he steps up to a mile. He hasn’t win since scoring over 6f on his debut and has largely campaigned over 7f since a couple of unsuccessful runs over this trip (one on dirt) at Meydan in the early part of the year. However, he has been shaping a bit better of late and giving the impression he wants further, finishing well into fifth at Doncaster last time after missing the break and again doing all his best work late when fourth (of 15) at the same track in June.
The handicapper has given him a chance by dropping him to a mark of 92, 9lb lower than his peak rating of 101, and he looks very well treated indeed on his juvenile form. The highlights being a fifth (of 23) behind Limato in Redcar’s Two-Year-Old Trophy and a subsequent length second in the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury. That was two years ago, admittedly, but he clearly retains some ability and today’s easy mile on good ground might be just what he needs to get his head back in front.
You won’t go too far wrong backing Tom Dascombe-trained runners at the Lancashire venue, with the stable’s five-year record standing at an impressive 49-277 (18%) for a whopping £1 level-stakes profit of £87.98. That immediately heightens interest in the trainer’s BROGAN in the 1m nursery and a quick glance at her progressive profile really gets the punting juices flowing.
An unfancied 20/1 shot on her Kempton debut back in August, she belied those odds by finishing well into third and she followed that with another solid third on her turf debut at Carlisle, less than a length behind the winner. Her latest effort at Ffos Las was her best yet as she found only an odds-on fair prospect a neck too strong, with a big gap back to the third. A fillies’ maiden is hers for the taking based on those efforts, so the fact Dascombe is dropping her into handicap company suggests that he thinks she can defy a mark of 74. Odds of 9/2 that he’s proved right look very fair.