Wednesday was poor and I need to stop getting excited about the chances of horses having their first run of the year! Stone Circle drifted like a barge on the machine, indicating he wasn't exactly expected to be fit to rock and that's how it played out, as he tired under calm handling. There'll be other days for him and I'll be keeping an eye on his future engagements. We'll get our stakes back, plus more, sometime!
Northern Express and Jawwaal, both representing Michael Dods, ran similar races. They were plenty fresh enough, raced with the choke out at various stages and didn't come home as well as hoped when getting the splits. Jawwaal probably wasn't suited to the track as well and those bigger fields on more conventional venues might help him. Both remain of interest and didn't show their true worth this time.
-4.00pts on the day.
The Newmarket selections have been Pricewised hence having to take shorter prices than we should be getting but they're still fair enough bets to me. The Ripon duo are huge prices if they're fit (God knows).
Significantly has quirks to his game and there's no getting away from that, but he has plenty of talent and could put it all together at some point soon. The now 3-year-old wasn't disgraced in a good Lingfield handicap last time, not suited by the run of the race or the track, and he should strip fitter for that outing (yard motoring along nicely at present). I think this venue should suit, the lowest stall may prove advantageous and with questions to answer about almost all of the others, hopefully he could prevail.
Siding with Praxeology could go one of two ways; well or badly! He hasn't raced since November, so has fitness to prove, but was a non-runner on a couple of occasions in December and January, and might not be short on homework. Connections definitely have a well-treated runner to work with, as he's a full stone below his peak mark, and it's interesting that David Loughnane makes a rare trip to Ripon with a horse who bolted up in a C&D novice with his previous yard. This demands a revival but if he's in good order, 18/1 can look big.
Brian Meehan was raving about Akmaam after his debut win at Ascot last September and although the form in behind has hardly been given much in the way of a boost, the fact that his sole run since in a hot Autumn Stakes over C&D yielded such a good performance, I think he could win a nice race this term. In that Group 3, he fared best of those ridden more aggressively and that is a race to have been franked since. Better ground will suit and if he's fit enough and gets near the lead on the rail, things may get interesting.
Oisin McSweeney is one of the apprentices who I think could be in line for a good season and Abate is a solid ride to pick up. The 5-year-old won twice in the earlier part of last season (including first time out) but the handicapper battered him for a good win at York and he couldn't get back into the winners' enclosure. However, he resumes off just 3lbs above that York success and McSweeney being able to claim 5lbs in this apprentice handicap is a help. In a small field like this, I think his price is pretty sizable.
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