I'd forgotten how much fun and quality racing there is Craven week and on a busy Thursday, we have seven selections, including four over at HQ.
Agathonia - The key to this 1m4f maiden is the ability to stay over a pretty long trip considering the lack of unproven horses in the race. All have it to prove, but I’m surprised Agathonia is as big as 5/2 for the in-form Charlie Appleby yard with Adam Kirby booked to ride. This strongly made filly showed promise when getting three useful runs at Leicester and Kempton under her belt last year, the latest of which was in October over a mile where the daughter of Street Cry was somewhat unlucky to get beaten into 2nd. Stamina over this trip is taken somewhat on chance, I’d be a little more comfortable if this were 8-10f, but she has the best form on offer and might prove too sharp for the newcomers.
Medici Banchiere - Disappointed when last seen at Redcar in a Listed event but ran with credit in a pair of Group 2 contests prior to that and is interestingly handicapped on a mark of 99 back down in class here. Karl Burke’s horses all seem to be needing a run at present which is a concern, but at 25/1 it could be worth the risk.
Tabarrak - Did a good speed figure when winning a 7f Ascot handicap last May and has been off the track since. Reported to be working well in Hannon’s stable tour and if this 4yo is fit and ready to roll, he could be a bit too good for an ordinary enough looking field. 7f is about as far as he wants, but I think he’ll get a lead here and save a bit for the finish under champion jockey Jim Crowley.
Mayfair Lady - I know it was at York, but I can’t get out of my head how good she was from the front first time out last year and although it’s a shot in the dark, she could get the run of things, Fahey’s are flying and I can’t resist a few quid on the nose at such a big price. Capable of running very fast if in the mood.
Rivet - The money for War Decree has pushed William Haggas’ Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner out to a backable price at 7/2 and with proven form over a mile at this track at the highest level, he is still the horse they all have to beat.
Quatrieme Ami - A tricky little handicap but Philip McBride’s charge returns to turf on a nice mark and with a solid record over this shorter trip of 5f, the 4yo gelding makes plenty of appeal after a winter break.
East India - Ex-Ballydoyle horse and a well bred one as you’d expect. I’m fascinated to see how this horse runs first time out for George Baker in a hurdle from a mark of 100. The trainer could’ve ran in a flat handicap from an interesting mark of 74 and will surely explore those options in due course, but this is not a strong race at Taunton and 14/1 he makes some each way appeal.
Haripour - Has a bit to find with Venice Beach on their Leopardstown run earlier this month but this half brother to Harzand can be expected to improve a lot from that opening run and the step up to 1m4f should suit him well.
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