At the backend of last season, AUSTRIAN SCHOOL (stall five of 17) ran some cracking races on tracks that weren’t ideal for his prominent style – finishing second by a head in the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster when the winner, third, fourth, fifth and sixth all came from off the pace and running third in a 1m6f Listed race at Ascot. Stall 14 of 14 made life difficult when he reappeared in the Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh but he still won by six lengths. The handicapper has raised him 8lb to a mark of 110 but he runs off just the 5lb penalty in the Sportpesa Chester Cup Handicap (3.35). His turf record reads 13114422322231 (4-14), suggesting that he’ll be hard to keep out of the frame.
When asked to choose a horse to follow for the current Flat season by the Racing Post Weekender and Racing & Football Outlook I had no hesitation in opting for CAMACHO CHIEF (stall six of ten), who goes in the Chester’s 5f Gateley PLC Handicap today (1.50).
It was very difficult to win from off the pace on the round course at Newbury last month and KALOOR did well to finish a 9-1 third in a soft-ground 1m2f conditions contest on April 12 (the winner and runner-up were in the first two for the majority of the race). Brian Meehan’s son of Nathaniel was a 16-1 good-ground Salisbury winner on his sole juvenile outing and won’t be inconvenienced by the forecast persistent rain in the Group 3 MBNA Chester Vase Stakes (3.35).
Martyn Meade has a fine record with his first-time blinkered runners, scoring with six of the 16 qualifiers (37.5% strike-rate) for a profit of £25.00 to a £1 level stake at SP. The strike-rate improves to six from 11 for three-year-olds (54.5%, +£30.00) and AIRWAVES fits the bill in the 7f Join Racing TV Now Handicap at Wetherby (4.25).
CROWNTHORPE, best in the spring or autumn with cut in the ground, ran a fine race at Naas on his reappearance, doing best of those drawn high when fifth in the Irish Lincolnshire. Things didn’t go to plan at Ripon next time – he missed the break slightly, the ground was too quick for him and he could only finish fourth of 14 behind impressive scorer New Graduate. Beverley’s Racing TV Handicap (4.50) looks easier, he’s well drawn in stall one and the forecast rain on ground already described as ‘goood, good to soft in places’ is a bonus.
The stalls are in the centre on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket and it will be interesting to see how the field splits in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes (3.35). Two or even three groups is a possibility, though with so much early pace drawn high they might all stay stands’ side to centre. The GoingStick suggests that the quickest ground (albeit marginally) is down the middle of the track so I’m not unduly worried about stall 10 of 19 for Richard Hannon’s URBAN ICON.
On the round course at Musselburgh yesterday, It was important to challenge against the far side rail, favouring those draw low. STAR SHIELD (stall three of eight) is well berthed in the 7f Calum Logan – Happy 30th Birthday Race Handicap (4.35) and his trainer has won this twice in recent years. He was only seventh at Leicester on last month’s stable debut/reappearance but the time was fast and he should get a good tow into the race courtesy of the front-running pair drawn in stalls one and two.
Andrew Mount 10:51pm, Tue 30 Apr 2019
FIRST LINK could only finish fourth when the 11-8 favourite at Lingfield last time but the steady pace was against and she looks worth chancing on her turf debut in the Manny Mercer Apprentice Handicap at Ascot (5.35). This sometimes-keen sort should be able to get plenty of cover from her middle draw and she looks over-priced at around the 20-1 mark.
VILETTE seems to conform to the ‘OXO’ pattern (good run, bad run, good run etc), struggling to string two good effort together. She also has a fine record when fresh, recording figures of 1151 (3-4) when rested for at least eight weeks. She’s been given a break since disappointing at Kempton in February and looks worth an interest in the British Stallions EBF Fillies’ Handicap at Nottingham on Tuesday (3.35). Don’t be put off by the big price as those three ‘fresh’ wins came at odds of 20-1, 50-1 (dead-heat) and 25-1.
Andrew Mount 11:22pm, Sat 27 Apr 2019
SMOKEY LANE (stall five of 16) has twice caught the eye under a 7lb claimer since re-joining David Evans and can be backed in the opening 6f Desford Handicap at Leicester (1.40). The five-year-old was clearly unsuited by the drop to 5f at Windsor last time but kept on nicely into mid-division to go down by about three lengths. He looked full of running on crossing the line and is a massive 19lb lower than when scoring over course and distance for this yard in May 2017.
Seasonal debutants having their first run in a handicap have done very well in the bet365 Esher Cup (1.50) at Sandown, winning nine of the last ten renewals form just 35 runners (25.7% strike-rate) for a profit of £25.08 to a £1 level stake at SP. The last ten winners of this Class 2 mile handicap had won on one of their last two starts and the only horse to qualify on both counts is the Clive Cox-trained HOUSE OF KINGS (stall three of 11). He has yet to run a bad race, placing at 25-1 on his debut at Newbury despite running green, going down by a neck at Ffos Las less than three weeks later and signing off with a 7f Leicester success from Global Hero and Attainment. The runner-up landed a Wolverhampton novice contest on his only subsequent start and the third scored at Lingfield before going down by a nose on his handicap debut at the same venue. Blinkers are fitted for the first time and his yard’s runners are profitable to back blind in this headgear.
Alan King has a good record with progeny of Midnight Legend, scoring with 88 of the 415 qualifiers (21.2% strike-rate) for a profit of £65.88 to a £1 level stake at SP (+£158.67 at Betfair SP).
Andrew Mount looks ahead to Saturday’s bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and has an antepost fancy
THELONGWAYAROUND clocked a fast time when beaten by just over seven lengths into fifth at Wetherby in November and that race has worked out well – the winner Captain Zebo has landed both his subsequent starts and is now rated 130, runner-up Schiehallion Munro has also scored twice since and is currently rated 127 and third-home Skidoosh has seen his mark rise to 128 after a win and several solid efforts in defeat.
It’s helped to be drawn wide on the round course at Southwell so far this month, with the handicap winners over 6f-1m berthed as follows…
TOR caught the eye when fourth at Wolverhampton last time, doing best of the prominent racers, and looks worth chancing on his turf return in the 1m6f Queen’s Cup Stakes at Musselburgh (3.35). The five-year-old is now 0-8 on the all-weather but is a five-time turf winner, including two wins from two starts on the Flat at today’s venue.