One of the toughest sprint handicaps of the season to solve takes place this weekend as Ripon host their big day including the six furlong Great St Wilfred Handicap.
We have six strong contenders against the field featured with a potential 20/1 shot powering home to give us a very profitable weekend.
Clive Cox’s Dark Angel four-year-old looks very over-priced for this renewal having finished a good third in a decent race at Windsor last time.
That was only his second run of the season and his 9th overall meaning there is plenty more to come; especially now he is being prepped specifically for a big race. His two wins last season came on good-to-soft ground and so now things are easing off underfoot he should get his deal conditions and will run a very big race.
Another four-year-old who is finally getting his conditions after an extremely dry summer and following his narrow reverse at York he is bound to be popular in the ring once more.
Going up 5lbs for that defeat does not help matters however and so no matter how many things may be in his favour we cannot ignore the fact that off 99 he can’t be called a very well handicapped horse, though yet again he should give his running for Tim Easterby under David Allan and should be there at the business end.
Sent off 5/1 favourite for this race last year and a potential market leader once again, he has won or been placed in varying conditions so that doesn’t worry me though the fact that he is arguably regressing is always a concern.
Truthfully, I’d say if the handicapper had dropped him a few pounds more following his recent third at Goodwood he’d be a leading fancy but that not being the case it’s easy to see him filling a minor place once more.
Many in this race have come via York and Goodwood in supposedly better races, however none come into this as familiar with the course and distance as this 8yo of Ruth Carr’s and he may put his local knowledge to very good use.
Two recent wins over this track and trip put him right in the reckoning and although he is getting old and is up to a mark of 98 now, he is only 6lbs away from his highest ever mark and arguably performing very close to as well as ever so the handicapper may not quite have nabbed him this season as yet.
The popular six-year-old travels from Newmarket with plenty of confidence behind him having routed a very good field last month at Ascot and will not be short of supporters in the betting jungle.
That win was over the minimum trip of five furlongs, in fact his only turf wins have come over that distance, and he has come out since and bean relatively comfortably beaten at Goodwood.
With no disrespect meant to William Carson; Adam Kirby and Ryan Moore have been booked for his last two runs and it may well be that trainer Paul D’Arcy doesn’t really fully believe this is to be his day although his overall profile marks him out as one who must go close.
Won the consolation race on the card last season and no stranger to Ripon in the months thereafter so he is very familiar with surroundings and remains in good form.
Kevin Ryan is no mug and will have prepared this six-year-old Dutch Art gelding to perfection and is very much a backable price, though one could argue that he’s gone ever so slightly backwards this term and doesn’t come into the race with quite the same vigour as when winning on this day last season.
There are plenty in with chances as you would imagine, however with conditions now coming just right and with plenty more to come from a lightly raced four-year-old this could be the day to have DARK POWER on side.
Clive Cox is very adept at preparing such horses for big handicaps and he has the perfect profile for this in as much as we have not seen his best racing performance as yet but we know it is coming soon.
Golden Apollo is a similar type and also has an outstanding chance while course specialist Pipers Note is also feared for the ever popular Ruth Carr team.