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Wrong wrong wrong with my lay of Saskia's Dream yesterday, but a couple of decent winners later on the card, and a slice of a small placepot as well. It's ever so slightly better fare today, and we'll head to Leicester's seven race card for the preview, starting at 2.20.
2.20 Leicester: With just a millimetre of overnight rain at the track, the going remains good to firm, good in places. Mark Johnston has run six horses in this race since 2006, and has claimed three golds, two silvers, and a fifth place with that sextet. Thus, Sherston is of immediate interest. This well bred son of Shamardal got away well before being outpaced around Chester's tight turns, and will be much better suited to Leicester's wider expanses and straight seven furlong course.
Sir Michael Stoute has won this twice himself, and he's got the unraced Freemason. Interestingly, I think, his previous two runners were both having their second starts, and Stoute does tend to require hands and heels rides for his first time outers. Of course, Freemason could be good enough and forward enough to win without 'encouragement', but it's tough to wager one in such a context.
The other I'll be taking in my two-pronged placepot attack is Raise Your Gaze, from the Clive Cox yard. He's run twice so is a bit more exposed than some, but was only beaten a neck in a race from which the third and fifth have already come out and won since. The only other two subsequent runners, the seventh and twelfth (last) placed horses, have both placed too, so the form looks rock solid. 3/1 looks fair enough.
A - 11 (Raise Your Gaze), 12 (Sherston)
2.50 Leicester: One non-runner means seven (of course!) go in this Class 3 seven furlong handicap. Talented Kid is the short-priced favourite, and he's a horse with an interesting history already. Just the one run on the flat yielded an easy three length win in a mile maiden but, prior to that, he'd had three tries in National Hunt Flat races over two miles! Given that his damsire barely stayed seven furlongs, that was interesting, but so is the fact that he's now on his third trainer: Mark Johnston taking over from John Ferguson who had himself taken over from Saeed bin Suroor.
Perhaps this is his trip, and now is his time, in which case he'll be very hard to beat. And, with the absence of an eighth runner, each way appeal is muted in opposition. However, one which could step up is Albaqaa, who has form at this grade and will love the trip. He might also get his own way in front.
Mezzotint is coming back to favoured conditions: the only time he ran on today's going at this trip in Class 3, he won. He'll need to break better but if he does, he's a chance.
Tatlisu, despite the booking of Ryan Moore, has been found wanting in this grade, and has only won a Class 5 claimer at this distance. Looks opposable.
A - 4 (Talented Kid)
B - 1 (Mezzotint), 5 (Albaqaa)
3.20 Leicester: A big field two year old seller, with a clear top-rated runner that is bang out of form. Lovely!
Plenty of these have no chance, so it's actually a marginally more compelling betting proposition than it first appears. Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider, named after a group of artists from the Neue Künstlervereinigung München in Munich, Germany - just so you know) is the 79 clear top, and he won his maiden at Yarmouth over five furlongs on debut.
Since then, he's finished last twice in big field classy races, the Windsor Castle Stakes, and the Weatherbys Super Sprint. He takes a monumental drop in class here, but still leaves reservations about his ability to win. He's also stepping up two furlongs in distance. The ground is fine, and he has run far better than anything else here, but he might not do so again. Still, his odds of 7/2 factor that in, and he'd win pulling the proverbial cart if at his best.
More reliable, if less talented, options are Autopilot and Princess Tamay. Autopilot has run well in a couple of maidens, and that's more than most of these could do. He's run fast too, and though the trip is a slight worry, he's got a lot in his favour.
Princess Tamay is having her eighth career start already, and she's been beaten far enough in this grade to overlook her reluctantly here.
Rags with a squeak include Sukari Gold and Secret Ocean in what is a race best left alone.
A - 1 (Der Blaue Reiter), 3 (Autopilot)
B - 8 (Secret Ocean), 15 (Sukari Gold)
3.50 Leicester: Livia's Dream and Nautilus should take them along at a fair pace here and, though she's three times the price, the former has plenty of profile positives for a race of this nature. The latter won by fifteen lengths two starts back, but has been whacked by the 'capper as a consequence, and wasn't good enough to take advantage of a run prior to reassessment, when beaten at odds on. He's no value at the price, despite being a likely win contender.
Discay has won twice in Class 5 but been beaten twice in this Class 4 in his last five starts, and he may again threaten the frame without passing the post in pole position. Hassle steps up in trip after looking a bit one paced over a quarter mile shorter last time. The race may not be run to suit though, which means any additional stamina he has could be offset by his lack of tactical speed. In other words, he's looked slow and a grinder.
A - 1 (Livia's Dream), 4 (Nautilus)
4.20 Leicester: Thirteen maiden fillies go to post here, which will be unlucky for some - most probably me, as I can't stand these races. My Painter is the favourite, at 7/4, and she's run twice finishing fourth and third in decent maidens. She was beaten as the 5/4 jolly last time, though that was around Chester's hairpin, which may not have suited. She's worth another chance here.
The next three in the market are all unraced, and from top stables: Dorset Cream from Lady Cecil; Surcingle from Sir Michael Stoute; and, Chortle from Charlie Appleby. As mentioned, I tend to veer away from Stoute newcomers, but I like debutantes from the Cecil and Appleby (nee al Zarooni) yards, as they usually know their job already.
I'll take the beautifully bred Chortle (daddy Dubawi, mummy had Hunter's Light and thrice-winning Frenchie, Linda Radlett) of the trio.
A - 1 (Chortle), 9 (My Painter)
4.50 Leicester: They should abolish Class 3 Conditions races. They just always seem to produce small fields for very decent prize money. In this example there is £12,000 to be shared between five entries. That said, at least this is a competitive little heat, with five good quality horses taking part. There's not a lot between them, which means finding a winner may be tough.
Noble Storm may get the run of the race, and a soft lead. If he does, he's going to be hard to pass. Of the others, I quite like Monsieur Joe, who has been racing in Pattern Class in France for his last five starts, and not beaten far. This is a fair step down the quality ladder, and he's trained by Mr Sprinter, Robert Cowell (Jwala, Kingsgate Native, Prohibit, Spirit Quartz, etc).
Humidor is quick too, while Rocky Ground has more scope to improve than the rest, but will need to as he's got six pounds to find with Joe on official ratings (though he does get a weight for age allowance).
A - 1 (Monsieur Joe), 3 (Noble Storm)
B - 2 (Humidor), 4 (Rocky Ground)
5.20 Leicester: An apprentice handicap to close the card, and one in which I have a vested interest. I own 10% of Vastly, a well bred son of Mizzen Mast who is closely related to both Putney Bridge and Await The Dawn. He's been better on the all weather so far, but has had his knackers removed since last he graced the track. He might just need the run, but we're looking forward to the winter, if not this afternoon. Hopeful today, but not expectant.
If he's to be beaten, then the most likely one is Rosselli, for whom a little bit of rain would be perfect. Stag Hill's trainer, Bernard Llewellyn, does well at this time of year, so it wouldn't surprise me if that one ran well. But I'm invested in Vastly and will be cheering that one! Keep him on the right side, whatever he does today.
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All picks - 2 x 3 x 4 x 2 x 2 x 4 = 384 bets
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