Our racing expert marks your card for this evening's all-weather action at Wolverhampton.
AMERICAN PATROL looks the one to beat in division one of the class 6 handicap over an extended 1m1f. Neil Mulholland’s charge was taking advantage of a slipped handicap mark when scoring over this course and distance last time in a manner to suggest he can defy a subsequent 4lb rise. The application of a first-time visor (back on here) clearly helped him on that occasion as he’s notoriously lazy and wasn’t that smartly away from the gates. However, he responded well to the urgings of Adam Kirby, who is now 2-2 on him and renews the partnership, to knuckle down and win with a bit up his sleeve. Now up against some largely out-of-form rivals, he’s taken to to improve his all-weather strike rate to 3-9.
CAT ROYALE could be the answer to the second division of the aforementioned 1m11/2f handicap. John Butler’s charge is is another to have slipped down the weights of late and there were signs that he is about to take advantage over this track and trip 13 days ago, when not beaten far into fourth having led for most of the way. The handicapper has kindly dropped him a further 2lb since, meaning he’s running off a 2lb lower mark than when winning over a furlong shorter here last July under today’s rider Danny Brock, and this race won’t take much winning. He looks to have Sunshineandbubbles to beat. UPDATE – the selection is very easy to back this morning – out to 10/1 from 11/2 – so best keep stakes small.
The feature class 2 handicap over an extended 1m4f is competitive and other than the two top weights, who are returning after layoffs, we have plenty of recent form to go on.
Celestial Spheres is the only last time-out winner in the field and, indeed, Charlie Appleby’s charge is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Lingfield the last twice. A further 4lb rise doesn’t look beyond him given his progressive profile, but he’s much worse off with Al Hamdany, who was just over a length adrift when the pair clashed in December, and is also unproven on Tapeta. The latter horse might turn the tables here then and he is preferred to another in-form runner in Mount Tahan, who has been doing his winning over shorter and is not guaranteed to stay.
However, I can’t help thinking the value lies elsewhere in the shape of Karen McLintock’s DIODORUS, who surely has a better chance than his 16/1 price tag would suggest. His latest effort, a staying-on fourth over three furlongs shorter here last month, was by no means a bad return to action after an 81-day break and he’s entitled to not only strip fitter for that run but also appreciate today’s longer trip. He looked a strong stayer when winning a Dundalk maiden for Aidan O’Brien last July and, having been snapped up for £32,000 by current connections and gelded since his stable debut fourth in November, he should have more to offer off his current mark and now sporting cheekpieces for the first time.
All odds were correct at time of posting.