Our racing expert is hoping to get off the week off to a flyer with this trio of Leicester runners.
There are four Flat meetings to bet on today and it’s the afternoon card at Leicester that provides all three of today’s bets.
The 1m1f handicap for three-year-olds (3.55pm) is a fascinating contest with several unexposed sorts in the eight-runner field. They include the Luca Cumani-trained and Ryan Moore-ridden Banksea, who ran a stormer when second in a competitive 1m handicap at Ascot on his reappearance and who has been put in as 2/1 favourite by bookmakers. However, his stable isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders with just one turf winner (from 16 runners) in 2016 and five beaten favourites in the last fortnight alone, which makes him opposable at the odds.
Roger Varian is in far better form and his MUTAWAALY is preferred at a bigger price. A taking winner of a Wolverhampton maiden on his racecourse debut in December, he was sent off favourite for a handicap at the Newmarket Craven meeting only to disappoint and finish fifth of the six runners.
However, the son of Cape Cross looked all at sea on the prevailing soft ground and should do a lot better on today’s faster terrain. His trainer, writing in a Stable Tour, was keen to put a line through that run on account of the ground and, indeed, is hopeful he can prove better than a handicapper with a step up in class around Royal Ascot time being mentioned, in which case he should be very competitive here.
Varian’s SPANGLED is worth a second look in the 7f conditions stakes for fillies (4.30pm). She showed real promise when winning a Lingfield maiden and a Newmarket handicap (form has worked out well) last season and, while it was disappointing that she didn’t go on from that in two subsequent starts, she is a big filly who was always going to improve with age.
Her stable has a knack of improving similar types from three to four – Ambivalent and Talmada spring to mind – and Varian (again using his Stable Tour as a source) is very hopeful she can make the jump to Pattern company, saying that he sees her as a “potential stakes filly over 7f or a mile” and also saying that she had been working “very well” at home.
She will have to find some improvement to land this on her seasonal reappearance as she’s up against a formidable rival in Sir Michael Stoute’s Thetis, the 11/10 favourite after missing a race at Haydock on Saturday due to the ground, but she did win first time out in 2015 and is only rated 5lb inferior to the Stoute filly, with further improvement almost a given after just five career starts. At 5/1, she’s got to be worth a bet.
The 7f handicap run later on the card (5.00pm) looks competitive but Brendan Powell clearly means business by booking Ryan Moore to ride his THE SALMON MAN, and the five-year-old is taken to score. After showing some promise in three starts last season and a gelding operation over the winter, he made his handicap debut at Haydock last month and would surely have finished closer than fifth had he not missed the break and then having the gap he went for when making his challenge inside the final furlong close on him. With a little more luck in running here and off the same mark, he can make amends.