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Saturday, 19 May 2018

When It's Just Not Your Day

I was skeptical of the 'this will make you give up punting' title to be honest, but to be honest if I'd been on this, I'd have felt cursed! File under 'It's not your day, mate!'

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

4.55 Ascot, Wednesday, May 2

In the Manny Mercer Apprentice Handicap (4.55) at Ascot on Wednesday, Love And Be Loved made decent progress in the second half of last season, winning four of her last six starts, including three on soft, or heavy, going under today’s jockey William Cox. John Flint’s four-year-old officially improved by 20lb from June onwards, but remains unexposed over a mile under testing conditions and is by no means impossibly handicapped on the form of her Windsor win in October. On that occasion, she made all to win, unchallenged, by 2 lengths and, although 5lb higher in the weights in a better race, after an absence of 191 days, she may be able to continue her progress.

Vale of Glamorgan trainer John Flint has yet to trouble the judge with any of his four runners on the Flat at Ascot, but Love And Be Loved has plenty of stamina in the bottom of her pedigree, being out of a High Chaparral mare, so the testing nature of the Berkshire course could also play to her strengths. The daughter of Lawman likes to race on, or close to the pace, which should also stand her in good stead at Ascot, where the sweeping turn into the straight, and the relatively short straight, itself, can make it difficult to reel in horses that are ridden prominently. Love And Be Loved faces 19 rivals, so should be available at fairly rewarding odds and has plenty going for her on her seasonal debut.

Selection: Ascot 4.45 Love And Be Loved to win 10/1

Monday, 16 April 2018

1.50 Newmarket, Wednesday, April 18

In the Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap (1.50) at Newmarket on Wednesday, Ekhtiyaar is a lightly raced, progressive young sprinter who won twice over 6 furlongs at Newmarket last season, including on good to soft going on the Rowley Mile Course, and appears to have every chance of making a winning reappearance. On the final start of his three-year-old campaign, he could never quite keep tabs on the front-running Nobly Born in a well-contested 0-105 handicap at Ascot, but kept on at one pace to finish fifth of 13, beaten 2¾ lengths. 

That was his first defeat on good, or softer, going, but came after an 85-day break and, at least, demonstrated that his current mark of 100 to prove prohibitive, especially with another winter on his back. He ran well on his seasonal reappearance at Doncaster last April and, although he has to concede weight to all bar two of his 16 rivals, he was being touted as a bona fide contender for the Ayr Gold Cup at one point last season. Fitness is an obvious worry, after another 194-day break, but Ekhtiyaar looks the type to go on to better things in due course and is an exciting prospect.

Selection: Newmarket 1.50 Ekhtiyaar to win

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

5.20 Wolverhampton, Thursday, April 5

The Book Tickets at Handicap (5.20) is, at best, a moderate contest, in which it may be worth taking a chance on course and distance winner Zapateado. The Zoffany filly won a similar egg-and-spoon race, off a 6lb lower mark, for Richard Hughes here in November and, although her subsequent efforts in claiming and selling company were less encouraging, she appeared to show some improvement on her debut for Karen George at Lingfield earlier this month.

Although only fourth of eight, she was only beaten 1¼ lengths in that 0-70 contest at odds of 66/1, losing two places close home. On her final start for Richard Hughes, she finished last of five, beaten 12½ lengths, in a seller over course and distance, so her most recent effort represented a huge improvement. Dropped back into 0-60 company off a 2lb lower mark, she looks to have every chance of regaining the winning thread. Tom Marquand takes over from 5lb claimer Rhiain Ingram, which cannot be viewed as anything but positive, so Zapateado must have a sporting chance at decent odds.

Selection: Wolverhampton 5.20 Zapateado to win 7/1