The last big betting race of the Flat turn season is upon us, the campaign apparently having gone by in the blink of an eye.
At around 7/1 the field on Friday, this race has been shaping up to be one of the most competitive events of the whole year with the following six horses being the ones we’ve taken against the field.
Calling The Wind
It’s hardly a surprise that former hold-up specialist Richard Hughes has booked current hold-up specialist Jamie Spencer to ride this horse, a tactic that on its own in this soft ground may not work to the extent that connections hope.
Calling The Wind does have strong form however and can’t be ignored. A winner at Glorious Goodwood over 2½ miles, the five-year-old was also second at Newbury over a mile-and-a-half before finishing third in the Cesarewitch, showing his versatility and stamina.
Ian Williams’ runner comes into the race on the back of an impressive handicap success at Nottingham just ten days ago.
It appears that race didn’t take too much out of him and, even though it was achieved on good ground, it was over 1¾ miles meaning that extra staying power could come in handy when push comes to shove late on in the soft ground on Town Moor.
East Asia has also won on soft ground over two miles in the recent past, meaning he has plenty in his favour.
We’ve discovered something new about Dubawi this year, mostly from some of his Godolphin-owned progeny. While previously we assumed his offspring got quicker as they get older, they in fact seem to simply improve upon whatever their true calling is, including staying.
First Light is a son of Dubawi too for the John and Thady Gosden team. Third behind John Leeper in April, he demolished an admittedly mediocre maiden field at Ripon next time on soft ground and looked to have a bright future.
Since then, he’s won again at Ascot, and although he was beaten in Listed company last time it seems this mile-and-a-half trip is what he wants and he can improve the way most of his sire’s progeny do. If so, he is definitely well handicapped now for a top yard.
David Menuisier is a proper trainer so when he has a horse with ability, we have to sit up and take notice. It was a surprise then to see his Flyin’ Solo available at some tasty double-figure prices on Friday.
His profile is very much one of almost constant improvement to this point. A three-time winner, Flyin’ Solo has been successful on the Tapeta and on good to soft ground, while he battled to victory in a hot race over 1m2f against 19 rivals which all points to him having enough to be involved here.
Assuming the ground and trip are OK, he looks to still be well handicapped and having had a gelding operation since his last run, he may be even more straightforward now.
Now a four-year-old, Mr Curiosity knows what the game is about and yet he’s had just the six runs and could take a step forward now.
He’s in the form to do it too. An easy winner of a Redcar handicap last time out, he stays further than this 1m4f trip and handles softer ground conditions. He was 4/5 favourite to win last time however and it may be that the race was weak. He was beaten twice in handicaps off 89 and 88, so coming into a hot race like this off 95 may prove to be too much despite his overall progression.
Keith Dalgleish’s runner could be great value despite his wide draw in 20. Another improver, he ran a career best last time when chasing home the exciting Bay Bridge while he also has form with the likes of Maydanny, Euchen Glen and Juan Elcano. He’ll be battling all the way to the line.
A top competitive handicap, but one that for us has a couple of standout contenders based on their potential for being a good deal better than their current official ratings.
One is Flyin’ Solo who has plenty in his favour, but it’s hard to ignore the chances of FIRST LIGHT for the Gosden team given their penchant for having horses in perfect condition for a big day.