Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's action.
With nothing catching the eye over jumps, it’s the flat card at Windsor that provides today’s bets.
The handicaps at the Berkshire venue are all well contested and the 1m3f contest especially so with 16 being declared, so there’s plenty of scope for an each-way bet and I’m drawn to bottom weight PUMBLECHOOK (NON-RUNNER). Lucy Wadham’s charge is the the least experienced runner in the field having had just three starts, but that means he’s yet to show his full hand to the handicapper and looks nicely treated off bottom weight.
A stoutly bred sort, he hinted at ability on his debut at Wolverhampton in April when finishing third behind subsequent Dante winner Wings Of Desire, albeit five lengths adrift, and he duly landed the odds when getting off the mark at Pontefract on his next start. That earned him a mark of 80 (he’s 1lb lower this afternoon) and while he could finish only fourth of the five runners at Doncaster on his handicap debut, that was still a fair effort against more experienced and progressive rivals.
He’s not been seen out since and the suspicion is that we will see him over hurdles before long, but his dual purpose stable is going well and the booking of Jim Crowley, who is going all out in pursuit of the jockeys’ title, suggests that connections are not just giving him a run out.
Crowley also gets the keg up on the Martyn Meade-trained CALIBRATION in the 1m nursery and the son of Excelebration should not be away based on racecourse evidence, despite the burden of top weight.
He clearly found 6f too sharp on his Ascot debut, though he still showed promise to finish third, just half a length behind Rivet in second. That horse has since landed a Group 2 at Doncaster and a strict interpretation of the form suggests that the selection is thrown in off a mark of 82. Runner-up on his two subsequent starts over 7f, the last time behind a Derby entrant with a subsequent winner behind in third, he’s now trying 1m for the first time and he should relish it given how strongly he has been hitting the line in his races.
Roger Varian’s runners at the track are always worth a second look with the Newmarket handler boasting a near 1-3 strike rate (28-95) since 2012, with a £1 level-stakes bet on all his runners yielding a tasty £19.46 profit. A good number of those winners were ridden by Andrea Atzeni and he gets the leg up on the stable’s TIERCEL in the 1m handicap, which looks very winnable given the three-year-old’s progressive profile.
After finishing a promising third on his Sandown debut last September, he was pitched straight into Group company on his next start and it was a case of aiming too high too soon as he tanked through the race after taking a fierce hold before finishing well beaten. But he looked far more the polished article when reappearing at Kempton 12 days ago, travelling well throughout to win very easily, and while that form doesn’t amount to much he’s clearly on the up and is potentially well treated on a mark of 82. That is one Varian will be keen to exploit and helps explain the quick reappearance.