JBR – Hever Stakes Preview

James Boyle
February 23, 2018

The field burst out of the stalls during The Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap (Class 6) (4YO plus) at Lingfield Park Racecourse.

I'm going to start doing some more race previews around the weekends and there's no time like the present. If anyone wants to be added to the email list to receive upcoming bets, just give me a shout in the "contact" section of the site. Anyway, on we go! This year's renewal of the Listed Hever Stakes - over the flying five-furlongs at Lingfield - has an interesting look to it and as a betting medium, makes plenty of appeal with seven of the eight runners priced between 7/2 & 8/1. Finding the winner mightn't be too easy and it does seem to be a well matched field but I'll give it a crack and we'll see what happens after.

2:05pm Lingfield - Runner-By-Runner Guide:

Encore D'Or - 6-13 on All-Weather surfaces with a pair of C&D successes under his belt and has to go down as a noteworthy contender now dropped back to his last winning mark. However, his recent form in Meydan was disappointing and hopes are pinned on an assumption that the horse didn't acclimatise. It's entirely possible that he will show his true colours this time around, especially with Ryan Moore booked and the draw being kind in stall two, but quotes around the 8/1 mark aren't enough to tempt me into having a bet.

Boom The Groom - Holds absolutely no secrets from the handicapper having raced on no less than 53 occasions and looks regressive on the figures having dropped 11lbs from 107 since this time last year, but showed he wasn't far off peak form in handicap company when second over 5f at Chelmsford last month and then again over 6f here a week later. Didn't excel himself on his sole start since but only finished a few lengths off the winner and has a much kinder draw now. He's at least worthy of a position on the shortlist.

Brother Tiger - Speedy sort when he's at his best but definitely has limitations and yet to win above Class 3 company. His official rating of 80 leaves him with an ocean to find against the majority of these and barring some strange goings-on, he'll do well to finish in the top five. Quickly overlooked at this level.

Gracious John - The one they all have got to beat on official ratings having been allotted 110 since winning a Wolverhampton handicap off 107 in December. Would have to be considered a huge player if replicating that in what isn't the best of Listed contests you'll come across but he has since finished last on both outings since and that's a worry. Returning to the minimum trip will help and he is a three-time C&D winner, but given the price of 7/2, I find it easy enough to swerve him and think it's wise to throw the dart elsewhere.

Orvar - Rated 101 as a juvenile and seems capable of getting back to at least that figure after winning his last two races, including on debut for Paul Midgely (bought out of Robert Cowell's for 42,000gns; had a wind operation since) over this trip at Wolverhampton two weeks ago. He holds Boom The Groom and Royal Birth on the raw form but is yet to race at this track and previous experience of Lingfield could be a leveler in their favour. The bounce factor is another potential issue and, overall, I don't think 4/1 is worth bothering with.

Royal Birth - Won this race twelve months ago when defeating Lancelot Du Lac but hasn't managed to score since; for all that he has run well on a number of occasions. His recent form leaves something to be desired having finished behind three of these in a first-time eyeshield (retained with regular tongue-tie) a couple of weeks ago but got shuffled back on the bend at Wolverhampton and perhaps should be forgiven. Coming back to this C&D might liven him up and he's another who is getting a spot on the shortlist.

Tomily - Finished ahead of Boom The Groom and Royal Birth, but behind Orvar, last time out and previously only short-headed by Gracious John in December (albeit in receipt of 13lbs; runs off levels here). He has won at this track before, also, but that came over a furlong further and the test on offer might just be sharp enough. I'd expect a decent, staying-on effort but from a win point of view, he doesn't really interest me.

Karijini - Completely unexposed 4-year-old filly who has only had six starts to date and won three of her four outings (all over 6f) since joining Archie Watson from Simon Crisford. She shapes as if speed is not an issue, often racing on the keen side, and it will be interesting to see how a drop to the minimum trip suits. Tackling this sort of company, however, makes life difficult and despite getting the mares' allowance, there's no way I can look at the quotes of 5/1-6/1 and think "value". She could surprise me but is overlooked too.

Summary:

Gracious John has an obvious chance on ratings and could well bounce back to show the form that led to him winning twice in December, including over C&D, but the price is restrictive enough for my liking given the risks involved with regard to his current well-being. Royal Birth won last year's renewal of the race and will appeal to many - and if I was dutching he'd get a nod from what should prove to be a nice draw in stall four - but preference instead is for Boom The Groom to bounce back to his best. He has to find lengths with some of these but does like it around here and has the inside gate, which is ideal. Despite his official rating being just 96, I expect a good performance to be forthcoming and wouldn't bother taking figures too literally.

Selection:

2:05 Lingfield - BOOM THE GROOM - 1pt @ 8/1 (General)