A full field of 20 runners go to post at Ripon on Saturday for the Great St Wilfrid, the Garden Racecourse hosting its number one event and offering a cool £46,000 to the winner.
Local trainers have a terrific record in this race and we expect that trend to carry on, Yorkshire’s Mark Johnson, Phillip Makin, Tim Easterby and David O’Meara all holding serious chances while Darlington’s Michael Dods knows the time of day with sprinters. Here’s our shortlist:
Michael Dods’ five-year-old actually won the race that may prove to be the key piece of recent form in the context of this event, beating Muscika at York on rain-softened ground.
He’s only been raised 3lbs for that win and so is handicapped more than fairly given that he could yet pull out a bit more under Connor Beasley, and let’s not forget that he won the race on “his side” when runner-up in this very event a year ago. He has plenty going for him and would be extremely difficult to keep out of the first three you’d think.
Although David O’Meara’s runner has some in-and-out form, of two standout performances this season one of them was over this course and distance in June when he was beaten into third but that was very much a lesser race and he is 4lbs higher in the weights now.
The ground should be fine and he comes here off the back of a fine sixth in the Stewards’ Cup, though he may once again just find the pace a little too hot.
Plenty of Phillip Makin’s horses are hitting the board and this former Clive Cox trained five-year-old is of serious interest.
Dropped to six furlongs by his new handler, the son of Elusive Quality progressed steadily in his first three runs for the stable before winning over this course and distance last time out, beating Muscika in the process who has close form with the very well fancied Dakota Gold as mentioned above.
He is up just 3lbs in the handicap for that win, is going the right way and has conditions bang in his favour which cannot be said of a lot of this line-up while Paul Mulrennan is just the sort of jockey to negotiate Ripon to perfection.
Mark Johnston’s handicappers are always afforded the chance to run for money rather than work at home, so their form is invariably inconsistent.
That’s the situation with Lake Volta, who at his best can very definitely take this race especially as he’s now 3lbs lower in the handicap than when putting in a performance very close to a career best at Newmarket four starts ago.
There is no guarantee he’ll be at his best on this particular occasion though, so while he’s a rock solid contender we cannot risk him for win betting purposes.
In many ways David O’Meara’s Kyllachy gelding is the key horse here, having close recent form with both Dakota Gold and Lahore as previously mentioned.
With recent form figures of 24222 it’s obvious this one always runs his race, but in being 5lbs higher than his last winning mark he is still more of a yardstick than a value bet for the win in our book.
Serious money should be noted, as this one was steadily backed all day before winning at Newcastle on Northumberland Plate day and, despite having 23 starts to his name, the son of Equiano is only a 4yo and can still improve a fair bit yet.
Both his breeding and some of his past form would suggest the softer going is ideal for him, but even allowing for the fact that any sprinter anywhere can have an off-day, to have been beaten so far by Dakota Gold and Muscika at York last time is a little negative.
Tim Easterby’s four-year-old Staxton remains capable of better and can definitely handle this level of race, with any money for him in the ring potentially being very significant.
He may take a little more time before once again being seen as well-handicapped though, unlike Dakota Gold who won a good race last time and has been raised only 3lbs. The situation is much the same with LAHORE and it’s Phillip Makin’s runner that gets the nod, given that it seems we have seen nowhere near the limit he can reach for this yard.