Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's action - what's left of it!
Age Of Wisdom is chasing a hat-trick in the 2m Stayers Handicap and as one of his wins came over course and distance, he’s sure to be popular with punters. However, he was entitled to win what was a very poor contest as 1/5 favourite and while it’s harder to crab his subsequent success at Kempton, he’s gone up a further 5lb for that and might struggle to give weight and a beating to CLIFFS OF DOVER.
Paul Nicholls’ charge is better known as a hurdler and his most recent effort in that sphere came in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, where his rider set a suicidal pace after been gifted a healthy start and he predictably fell in a hole going into the home turn. Still, that run would have served to blow any cobwebs away after his 434-day layoff and he certainly showed the benefit when winning over track and trip on his next outing.
Megan Nicholls managed to settle him beautifully on that occasion and that meant he still had plenty left in the tank for his final effort, with his rider pushing him clear for a decisive success. That will have done his confidence plenty of good and while he’s now 7lb higher, Nicholls’ claim takes care of most of that and even his revised mark of 71 could prove very generous given he’s rated 140 over hurdles.
I fancy he can go in again this afternoon and he’s also worth sticking in your tracker for when he does go back over hurdles, with Aintree likely to suit him given his record on good ground and a flat track.
The class 5 handicap over 7f has drawn a big field of 14 and I was going to give it a miss until I noticed the name of Silvestre De Sousa next to William Knight’s SEA SHACK. That got me digging a little deeper and it turns out the Brazilian was also on board when the four-year-old finished a close second over this track and trip last May. Even better, he was only beaten a neck on that occasion by a previous winner and is now 3lb lower in the weights.
He didn’t really go on from that, admittedly, and finished well beaten when sent off favourite for a handicap on the July Course at Newmarket last June. He was subsequently gelded, however, and his final two efforts of last season were far more encouraging, including a close up fourth in a Kempton 7f handicap on his return.
That makes me suspect he’s best on this surface and possibly when fresh, so a 185-day absence might not stop him running a big race here from what is a plum draw and with his stable in good form (5-19 this current Flat season).
All odds were correct at time of posting.