Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's action.
The curtain comes down on Salisbury’s season with a competitive eight-race card and it offers up a couple of interesting betting opportunities.
The feature conditions stakes over an extended 6f has drawn a field of eight and they are headed by Richard Hannon’s Estidhkaar, who tops the ratings courtesy of his close second behind Muhaarar in last season’s Group 3 Greenham Stakes. But he returns from injury and is not much of a price at around 15/8, which can also be said of John Gosden’s Crazy Horse, a 5/2 shot who is making his first appearance since finishing a creditable sixth in a Group 1 at Deauville in May.
I’d much rather side with the Andrew Balding-trained ABSOLUTELY SO with race fitness on his side. He’s been running well in big-field handicaps the last twice, finishing fourth in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot before running a fine sixth in the Ayr Gold Cup under a big weight. Today’s contest looks far more winnable and he’s no stranger to success here, having won a Listed sprint last June despite the fast ground. He’s much more at home with some cut in the ground, which he has today, and he should just about win if running up to his best.
The closing race, the appropriately named “Season Finale” Handicap, looks tricky and it could pay to concentrate on the three-year-old brigade with several progressive types amongst them. Charlie Appleby’s Parliamentarian is very much in that bracket and the general 7/2 favourite will be sharper for his recent second at Haydock after a short break, while Pleasure Dome, is unbeaten since going handicapping and is trying to win four on the bounce. Alan King’s The Otmoor Poet has shaped like he will appreciate today’s trip and he’s another to consider, along with top weight Not Never.
However, I’ve a feeling that we will see a career-best effort from the Charlie Fellowes-trained ENDLESS ACRES and he looks the each-way value bet of the race at 14/1. The least exposed runner in the field after just three starts, he is making his handicap debut off what is potentially a generous mark of 80 and seems sure to relish every yard of this 1m6f. He caught the eye when keeping on nicely into second over 1m2f on his Windsor debut in June and again went into the notebook when stepped up to 1m4f on his next start at Doncaster, coming from miles off the pace to finish fourth. It was a similar story at Lingfield when last seen out as he finished like a train to beat all bar the progressive winner Cape Cova, who has won again since.
Based on those efforts, it doesn’t need a genius to work out he is crying out for a stiffer stamina test and that is what he should get here, with his ability to handle the soft conditions proven. An 89-day absence is a slight concern but that is factored into his price and we can take some encouragement from his stable form – a brace of 6/1 winners in the last fortnight and several placed runners – and 1-3 record at this track. With the excellent Tom Marquand booked to ride and connections trying headgear on him for the first time, the positives add up and any market support would be significant.