Our racing expert has earmarked four Epsom runners as potential bets.
The in-form Andrew Balding could be worth following at Epsom this evening with both his runners holding solid claims.
The Hampshire-based trainer has struck with five of his last 11 runners (46%) in maidens at this track and backing them all would have yielded a whopping £32.16 profit to £1 level-stakes. So his MANOLITO DE MADRID is worthy of respect on that stat alone when he runs in the 7f median auction stakes (6.45pm), and the son of Soldier Hollow also has a promising debut run at Sandown to recommend him. A hard puller in the early part of the race, he was spotted picking up nicely late on to run into fifth spot despite looking green and giving the impression he would be better for the experience.
He certainly looks best of those that have already had a run and the biggest threat may come from the William Haggas-trained newcomer Novoman. The market will prove the best guide to his chances, but the selection’s experience should count for plenty and he can initiate a double for Oisin Murphy.
The rider also gets the leg up on the same stable’s DOCTOR BONG in the closing 7f handicap (8.50pm). He is taking over from an apprentice rider who wasn’t allowed to carry a whip when steering the four-year-old into second place at Salisbury last time, when giving the impression that he could have done with a crack to liven him up late on. Runner-up on his previous start, when also apprentice-ridden, he should benefit from more professional handling this evening and won’t mind the soft conditions one bit.
The best bet on the card, though, is running in the opening class 5 handicap in the shape of HATSAWAY, who has impressed since joining Pat Phelan and is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Brighton and Salisbury. The latter came in class 4 company, so he’s dropping down a grade this evening, and a 6lb penalty is unlikely to stop him going in again in his current frame of mind and under regular pilot John Egan.
The in form Charlie Hills has a couple of chances to get amongst the winners. His Shanghai Glory looks to have Escalating to beat in the 6f handicap, while GRAPEVINE is returning from a short break in the 1m2f handicap run 35 minutes later (7.50pm). A winner over this trip at Windsor on his penultimate start off just 2lb lower before running third behind the smart Gershwin at Leicester last time, he has reportedly strengthened up at home since and, still on a good mark, is taken to regain the winning thread against six rivals.
These are headed by the Richard Hughes-trained Nigel, who was getting off the mark at the tenth attempt when making all in a bad race at Brighton last time. Up 5lb for that effort, which leaves him with top weight to carry, he may struggle to give the selection a stone.