Our resident tipster fancies a trio of runners at Leicester.
Roger Varian’s horses continue to run well and his MALJAA, his sole runner at Leicester is afternoon where he has a near 1-5 strike rate, can keep the good run going in the 5f handicap (due off 3.50pm).
The son of Paco Boy has not looked back since being fitted with blinkers, winning his last three starts all over 5f in narrow fashion, whilst giving the impression he was just doing enough each time. Dane O’Neill said after he’d ridden him to victory at Haydock last time that his mount was looking around after hitting the front which is why blinkers are important to him, and that he was improving with his racing.
In which case he should be able to shrug of a further rise of 5lb and prove far too progressive for his seven out-of-form rivals, who between them cannot muster anything better than a seventh place finish from their last two starts. He’s just 5/4 to do so under today’s pilot Paul Hanagan (24% strike rate on stable runners) and, while that may be too short for some, I rate him an odds-on chance.
In the 7f handicap run earlier on the same Leicester card (3.20pm), I like the look of Tom Dascombe’s HILLBILLY BOY, who was down to run in Saturday’s Sprint Trophy over 6f at York. I would have fancied him to run well in that race after his third in the Ayr Silver Cup last time out, when doing best of those horses to race up with the pace, and this is a far easier assignment, albeit over a furlong further. That he stays is beyond question, though, as two of his three turf wins have come over 7f and he’s even won over a mile on the all-weather at Wolverhampton.
Given he’s had just two starts for his current stable, the first of which was needed after a five-month break, he’s open to further improvement and I fancy he can take care of eight rivals, the majority of which are either handicapped up to the hilt or are out of form. The exception being the Charlie Fellowes-trained Accession, who has been given a break since enduring a hard race when third here in early September. He might be worth a small saver.
The final bet is a little more speculative with double-figure odds available for the Philip Kirby-trained IFTIKAAR in the first division of the 1m1f handicap (5.20pm). The five-year-old has not run since disappointing at York in early September and he had finished stone last on his previous start when attempting a quick-fire hat-trick after wins at Carlisle and Ayr in the same week, hence his big price.
However, Kirby blamed himself for those heavy defeats, saying in a recent interview that he ran him too quickly and he had “raised the white flag” as a result. He also said that, having given him a nice break since, he was hopeful the gelding had “more to offer” in the final weeks of the season with some ease in the ground. With the bang-in-form Louis Steward (1-2 for the yard) taking a handy 3lb off his back, he may well pop up at a nice price here.