Our racing expert fancies four horses at Catterick this afternoon.
Anything Owen Burrows runs at the moment is entitled to respect as the Lambourn handler is currently operating at a strike rate of 40 per cent (4-10 in the last fortnight). He is travelling up to Catterick with one horse, MUTANAQEL, who is contesting the median auction maiden stakes over an extended 1m4f, and the three-year-old can see off five rivals. He showed promise on both his juvenile starts, with his third in a hot Chelmsford novice last October working out well, and he was entitled to need his first run back at Sandown last month, when weakening into seventh after tracking the winner for most of the race. That run qualified him for a mark and he does hold a handicap entry later this week, but this looks an easier opportunity.
Mark Johnston continues to bang out the winners – 135 and counting this season and on course for a personal best – and PRAIRIE SPY has contributed a couple of those. She is laying down her unbeaten record in the 6f nursery handicap on the card and while she has top weight to shoulder, she looks up to the task. An easy winner at Thirsk on her debut, she had to work harder when following up at Bath, looking in trouble for much of the home straight, before running on to lead near the finish. The first four pulled clear and those immediately behind looked to have potential, so the form looks strong, and she has the scope to keep on improving. Her Group 2 entry at Newmarket next week suggests she is a bit better than a handicapper.
Brian Smart’s MAFDET could only finish ninth of the 12 runners when making her handicap debut at Redcar in early May, but she is surely capable of better and could go well at a price in the 7f handicap. She was entitled to need that run, her first for 169 days, and has been dropped 3lb since to a mark of 57, meaning she gets in here off bottom weight. After showing a little promise in three juvenile starts, she can surely be placed to advantage before too long and today might be the day given the red-hot form of her stable – four winners from 13 runners (31%) in the last fortnight – and with first-time blinkers on to help keep her mind on the job. She’s an each-way price too.
The feature Turmeric Handicap, run over a trip of nearly 2m and in honour of a course specialist here, can go to Diane Sayer’s IOLANI. The six-year-old hasn’t cut much ice over hurdles for his current yard but he won a bumper and a Flat maiden when with Willie Mullins, and wasn’t beaten far into fourth on his most recent outing on the level at Carlisle in June. That was over 1m6f, having finished well beaten over 1m2f previously, and the late progress he made from the rear suggested he would do even better when faced with more of a stamina test. That is what he gets here and Graham Lee keeps the ride, so he’s got to be worth an interest in an open contest.
All odds were correct at time of posting.