Our racing expert likes the look of a couple of Stratford runners.
When a horse joins Dan Skelton from another stable there is only one way said horse’s career can go – and it’s not backwards.
ALYASAN was last seen out winning a selling hurdle for Seamus Durack, who was dropping him in class to help restore some confidence after a couple of below-par runs since reappearing after a layoff. He’d been pulled up at Uttoxeter in June when quietly fancied for a handicap hurdle but he reportedly came back with mucus in his lungs, and it’s was simply a case of him hating the different type of hurdles in use at Newton Abbot when only fourth (of 10) on his next start there.
But clearly he has no issues with the Stratford obstacles as he absolutely dotted up here last time earning the form comment “came readily clear before two out, easily”. That was only a seller as mentioned but he’s a lightly-raced five-year-old who had shown promise in maidens / novices towards the end of 2015, including twice at Cheltenham, and he had won both his bumper starts previously – both at this track.
Now running for a new owner, Mrs June Watts, who paid a potential bargain 15,000gns for him at the post-race auction, he is making his debut for Skelton in this evening’s ‘Congratulations On Gold Nick Skelton Handicap’ over 2m at Stratford, bidding to take his course record to 4-4. He’s up against much better rivals than last time and a couple are chasing four-timers, but he’s getting plenty of weight as it’s a handicap and it’s a race his trainer will be keen to win given the race title – he’s the son of the Olympic gold medallist in case you didn’t know. Brother Harry rides.
Of his rivals, I’m most fearful of Nicky Henderson’s Barman, who made a winning handicap debut last time, having won a maiden and novice previously, and is just 7lb rise for that latest success. He is preferred to Rossetti whose three wins this summer include the Jersey Champion Hurdle and an impressive course and distance victory last time. However, he has been hit with a 13lb rise for the latter and has to give the selection 21lb as a result.
The 2m3f handicap hurdle run later on the card is a tight affair, but David Pipe’s PURPLE ‘N GOLD has run well in defeat on his last two starts, including in a class 2 at Southwell last time when he was just four lengths behind the winner Ballykan. He’s a bit of a character and is not one to invest heavily in, but he wins his fair share mostly around this time of year and, with his stable in good form, he may well take advantage of this drop in grade.
The 11/2 on offer that he does looks a tad generous and he rates better value than likely favourite Roman Flight, who was fortunate to snatch victory over 2m1f here last month after the leader at the last made a terrible mistake and has since been well beaten off his revised mark. A bigger threat may come from the Kerry Lee-trained Definite Future after his confidence-boosting win at Worcester last month, albeit in a lower grade race and off effectively a 19lb lower mark.