Heaps of hot handicaps are heading our way, on Saturday, with live televised action coming from Newbury, Newmarket and Ripon. Seymour Biz has picked out a quartet of nags for your Lucky 15, which include a Listed race winner that looks to have been treated kindly by the handicapper for the Great St Wilfred’s. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
A really good days racing in store for us this weekend with ITV televising three meetings. This should warm us up nicely in preparation for the Ebor Festival at York next week. The main meeting on Saturday is at Newbury with the Geoffrey Freer and Hungerford Stakes, both Group races, sandwiched between them is an excellent 7 furlong handicap. Just one race televised at Newmarket and that’s the Grey Horse Handicap which is always a wonderful spectacle to see these greys galloping over the 6 furlong July course. It always reminds me of the famous painting of The Scots Greys charging at the Battle of Waterloo. The other meeting shown on Saturday is at Ripon where they have their biggest day of the year with the Great St Wilfred Handicap and the Silver Trophy Consolation race. The St Wilfred sees Gunmetal back to defend has crown after last year’s thrilling victory, but he will have nineteen challengers so it should be a great contest. With all this action to look forward to here are my thoughts for the handicap races and the best value available in them.
Starting with the 3.00 at Newbury, the the Unibet Handicap run over the 7f straight course. Clive Cox sends Graphite Storm a winner at Newmarket last month. He has been placed twice behind Squats in this race previously and is due to race off a 3lbs lighter weight than when runner up last year. However I fear he may have to settle for a place again. George William was a beaten favourite last time here at Newbury but as he drops down in class here he finds himself having to carry a lot more weight. Ed Walkers charge did not have the pace last time and that may well be the case again. David Elsworth’s Ripp Orf has not had a good season compared to the promise he showed last year, failing to make the frame in six starts. He has dropped down the handicap but wouldn’t need to show a marked improvement to take this as his runs have been in top class contests against highly rated opposition. Breath Of Air trained by Charlie Hills won well here last September but this young horse has failed to add to that tally this season and is another who hasn’t made the frame. He was denied a clear run at Goodwood a fortnight ago, given a smaller field he may put in a better run here but it’s Ripp Orf for me to break his duck for the season.
At Newmarket we have the unusual scene of only grey horses in the aptly named Unibet Grey Horse Handicap at 2.45. I thought this race was named after my local pub! It’s a very open contest with several horses vying for favouritism including top weight Glen Coco trained by Stuart Williams. This horse has won four times already this year and ran a fine third a Newmarket in July but for him to win under top weight here is a big ask. Zumurud won last time out at Catterick under a big weight, he had Buccaneers Vault well behind and should confirm that form,however he has a better class of opposition here. One of those is Lethal Angel who has been ultra consistent this term, her six runs have produced four seconds and two thirds. That said, her problem seems to be she always seems to find one too good and that may well be the case here. But the one I like the look of is Richard Hannon’s Chatham House. A winner last time out at Newbury over 7 furlongs I do not see the drop back to six being a problem for the gelding. He came from last to first that day and he has very consistent form leading to the conclusion he could well be the answer to this tricky contest.
Moving north to Ripon at 2.05 it’s the William Hill Silver Trophy Handicap which is a consolation races for the Great St Wilfred. Julie Camacho sends out dual winner in 2019, Royal Prospect whose latest victory was at Redcar in July but her young horse is up against some crafty old handicappers here. Tim Easterby’s Hyperfocus was quietly fancied in some quarters for the St Wilfred itself but as he has not made the cut he must now be high on the lists for this race. He won here in June using front running tactics, those were employed by the last three winners of this race, however he needs to be drawn near the rail but I can’t help feeling top weight may hold him back. Richard Fahey’s has a strong hand here with no fewer than four runners, the best of which may be Brian The Snail. He won at Doncaster in May and has been highly tried but unsuccessful since, this means he has dropped down the handicap and he may capitalise on that here. Old timer Growl from the same yard has not won since 2016 and seems to find a few too good these days. Tomily ran up a quick treble in July for trainer David O’Meara but I think the handicapper May have his measure now. One with place claims from the bottom of the handicap is Orion’s Bow, he could put up a good show at a nice price.
So we come to the big race itself at 3.15, the William Hill Great St Wilfred Handicap with Gunmetal out to defend the crown he won last year, but with 7lbs more on his back his chances are severely dented. The bookmakers choice is Summerghand after his very good fourth at Goodwood in the Stewards Cup where he had to switch direction a couple of times. He had a lot of this field behind him that day and carries 3lb more than he did then so David O’Meara’s charge may struggle to maintain that advantage. Dakota Gold, who was runner up here last year, was a winner at York last time for Michael Dods but he has a little extra weight and seems up against a better class of animal here. My liking here is for Mark Johnson’s Lake Volta, a Listed race winner last year, he has been busy this year winning on two occasions in April and May. He has dropped down the weights since and seems on a good mark at present. David O’Meara has a couple of interesting runners with Gulliver and Muscika, either of whom can put in a good run. I think Muscika can make the frame at a nice price but Johnson is carrying all before him this year and Lake Volta is the selection.
Saturday e/w Lucky 15
3.00 Newbury. Ripp Orf
2.45 Newmarket. Chatham House
2.05 Ripon. Brian The Snail
3.15 Ripon. Lake Volta