A great day of racing up and down Britain tomorrow, which is a great lead-in to the Ebor Festival next week.
The beautiful Ripon racecourse has its big day of the year tomorrow, the delightfully complex Great St Wilfrid Handicap. Lining up for the challenge to unlock it is multimedia pundit Billy Blakeman, @five2tenracing.
The William Hill Great Saint Wilfrid Handicap
Class 2, £70k
1530 local 0030 AEST
It is most unlikely that the patron saint of Ripon, St Wilfrid, ever had the opportunity to visit a William Hill shop or if indeed he liked a flutter at all but his name is immortalised anyway in what is a famous old handicap run at Ripon racecourse.
Your author today has been using ‘St Wilfred’ on social media all day and so I am reliant on my analysis and tipping being better than either my spelling or grasp of history (!) so here we go;
1) POYLE VINNIE – Reminded at Hamilton on his penultimate start that just because a horse has plenty of speed over 5f, it doesn’t mean he won’t stay the 6th furlong. In that race, on rain softened ground, he took his field apart. It is valid to consider that he had a premium draw that day and the same was pretty much true in the Stewards’ Cup a couple of weeks later. Despite showing plenty of pace once again at Goodwood, he did this time seem to weaken in the final yards and he has to be destined to be better than a handicapper if he is going to defy this mark.
2) PIPERS NOTE – Notably progressive sprinter who saves his best for Ripon where he is now 4 from 7. He may need to progress a little further and that is entirely possible so although a middle draw is a question, he has reasonable prospects of getting involved.
3) SPINATRIX – When I use the phrase ‘Oh, what a mare!’ it is usually in a negative sense but not so here. With 10 wins from 44 runs, Spinatrix is a bit special and 9 of those wins were earned in handicaps, each time off a higher mark than previously. To conclude the numbers thing, the mare has set 16 new personal bests during her career and has made the top 3 in all her 11 races at good old Ripon. Enough to like then and after 6 runs in Listed company, she has dropped back to a mark she can win a decent handicap off.
4) CLEAR SPRING – Other than an aesthetically and practically displeasing stalls exit at Goodwood last time, when horse and rider soon became separated, this 7-y-o entire has been right at the top of his game this season. Nonetheless, this probably demands a further career best and he does not make the cut for my shortlist.
5) TATLISU – This is one of those Northern handicaps that tends to be won by someone with a metaphorical flat cap and Richard Fahey is just the type of trainer to keep on side in such events. Now PJ McDonald is not a jockey frequently used by the yard but no real worries on that score and this 5-y-o looks destined to win a race of this type before long. Consistently able to run to marks above 100, he is off 97 today and although he has a couple of shockers on his card this season, it might be significant that both those came on fast ground. A bit of cut is what he wants and although I have been checking weather forecasts almost to obsession, I couldn’t be certain that the rains will come but it does seem likely the ground will ease. Should that be the case, a low draw may just be favoured and with a decent pull for a forlorn chase of Poyle Vinnie at Hamilton last month, the case for Tatlisu looks strong.
6) ANOTHER WISE KID – Admirable 7-y-o with a yard that does well with his type but this one does look essentially a 5f horse, with his last 7 wins coming over the minimum trip.
7) BOOMERANG BOB – Entire with a modest win record but in reasonable form and not impossible to fancy at a price. Not too much evidence he would appreciate any amber weather alerts though.
8) GREEB – In the wrong place in the Stewards’ Cup so that can be forgiven but earlier was all out to win a 5-runner Class 3 Nottingham handicap so whilst he has potential, he has a bit to prove.
9) FAST TRACK – Low mileage and seemed to prove his stamina for 6f last July. Has a likely profile and far from dismissed but draw may not be ideal and still a lingering doubt that 5f suits best.
10) MASS RALLY – Hard to remember back to the days when he had a squiggle and he has had some good days out in top handicaps in recent years. Record of 5/56 still only fair though and it may be he is now in decline. Raced here only once before.
11) AL KHAN – A grade or two below this level and I have not heard of his jockey before this point so if 16/1 proves a good bet, I will be in mourning at my loss of judgement!
12) SHORE STEP – A long time since this one saw soft ground on raceday and his improvement seems to have levelled off in any case.
13) GRAN CANARIA QUEEN – Had a good year but 8 lb higher than her latest win and might come up a little short.
14) KIMBRELLA – Has plenty of speed so 5f suits but does stay this far. It looks on balance a big ask though.
15) HAWKEYETHENOO – Almost a legend as far as Scottish- trained handicappers go and cracking effort under Yutaka Take in the Shergar Cup Sprint last week over an inadequate 5f. Hector Crouch an interesting booking given he is attached to Gary Moore and should high numbers be favoured, this veteran could nab a place.
16) LEXI’S HERO – Won’t mind the cut and if this were Chester not Ripon; it isn’t though.
17) BARNET FAIR – Just the type for these sort of races but fast ground important judging by record of 7/19 placed efforts on fast ground as opposed to 0/21 on good and 0/3 on softer.
18) DON’T TOUCH – The favourite and I guess I owe more words than I am about to type. However, whilst the 3-y-o is 3 from 3 and could be anything, many of his rivals today are very tough battle-hardened pro’s and I would rather be wrong and watch him win than invest.
19) MUKHMAL – Typically tough 3-y-o handicapper as churned out by the Mark Johnston yard year in year out and ran well on soft ground over 5f at Ascot last time. Sure to improve further in between the bad days and from a high draw, he is certainly one of the more interesting ones.
20) ECCLESTON – Proven Class 3 handicapper who has the honour of last man in for the main event. The 4-y-o could yet have more to offer and it is eye-catching that his trainer, David O’Meara, has taken 3 of the last 4 runnings of this. Soft ground seems preferable and last time they went too slow to suit his style. Interesting given the weather forecast from a low draw and wearing a visor for the second time.
Top 4 Selections:
4. POYLE VINNIE
Written by Billy Blakeman @five2tenracingg
I have been selecting horses since age 11 and have topped every tipping table I have found over the years. I have also written previews and articles for a number of sites and clients including ARC, Invendium and BetRacingNation. With the latter, I was a media pundit, appearing on many of the live TV shows and as a freelance, I am always open to any work within the racing or betting industries.
I can be found on twitter @five2tenracing and my tips are always tweeted free under the hashtag #BillysBigOnes