A very limited day of interest but I thought I would share my thoughts for what they are worth.
4.15 Southwell: The obvious one looks to be Mr Balding’s Sea Sculpture who is making his fibresand debut. Mr Balding was always a trainer to note when sending a runner here, however his strike rate has tailed off somewhat in the last couple of years, going from a peak of just over 45% in 2014 to 18.75% in 2018 and 12% last year and all based on a similar amount of numbers but most notable of all was the fact that last year he sent 14 runners that had raced at least once here to make their fibresand debut producing no winners whereas in previous years he operated at an average of almost 26%. On breeding the surface should suit and is closely related to a two times Course winner including CD but at only a very moderate level. On proven figures My CD Top Rated, Azari is 3 times CD winner including off today’s mark and twice wearing blinkers. He was soundly beaten by Seven Clans last time out but did far too much early when pushed along to lead. If he can return to last January’s form now dropped to a level at which he is 2 from 2 over CD he looked a little overpriced at 25/1. Cold Harbour has never won outside of Class 6 Company, Crimson King still needs to break Kingman’s fibresand duck, Mousebird will surely come on for his run 19 days ago when returning from a long break, Jawshan makes no appeal whatsoever and Cold Harbour is another yet to win outside of Class 6 Company. So basically betting on Azari at 25/1 is basically more a bet that he can return to last years form.
4.45 Southwell: A very trappy little contest and one I really dislike as a betting medium especially with the Southwell Mafia and their Jockeys all involved. Moonraker and Robot Boy have the proven AW Class but Robot Boy still needs to prove himself on the surface at a ripe old age of 10 which I am not certain is going to happen today. Moonraker if following last years pattern in that he ran over CD on 21st Dec (20th this year) finished 3 lengths off the winner as he did this year, dropped in the weights, returned 11 days later (9 this year) won and put up to 86 (85 this year) returned to CD to run third then return again over CD off the same mark and win a shade cosily. If he can run to 85 he wins this. I am again leaving myself open for criticism but I just can’t have Cappananty Con. Samovar is My CD Top Rated but does not appear to go so well on such quick returns. Warriors Valley on the other hand looks to thrive having raced 5 times returning from a 1 to 5 day break winning twice and placed on another and is 2 from 2 when his penultimate start was between 1 to 10 days. He looks to have the prime draw to give him the solo center run and connections won this last year albeit with a slightly better horse. In my opinion this all depends on what Mr Appleby and Dixon have planned for the race.
SELECTION: WARRIORS VALLEY
5.15 Southwell: If this was for 2 or 3 year olds making their fibresand debut, it would be no contest between Mark Johnston and Richard Hughes, having gone head to head 7 times, it is 4 – 0 in favour of Richard Hughes. Last year Richard Hughes sent 14 runners to Southwell for the first time, 6 won and a further 3 were placed. Shane Kelly rode 8 of them winning on 5 and was only out of the places once. BUT only 1 of the 14 was over 3 years old and that was unplaced. In total of the 30 of his runners he has ever sent to make their fibresand debut, of those 30 only 10 were 4 year olds or over producing only 1 winner. So maybe it pays to concentrate on his younger horses. I’m probably wrong as usual but Glendavon now looks short enough. Mr Johnston has sent 61 such older runners to make their fibresand debut with 18 winning and a further 8 placed giving him a 42.62% win/place strike rate. Mosakhar is 1 from 1 over CD but does not set the bar too high. Gossiping is surely on the handicapping campaign needing an AW Career best, although being by Dubawi he may well relish this surface with his progeny showing a very healthy 35.29% strike rate over CD. Caballero may not offer quite as strong stats or breeding wise he does bring a decent level of form to the race. Smile A Mile will find this easier than his last assignment, his breeding also offers encouragement and as mentioned his trainer has a great record with his older runners making their fibresand debut so just edges it for me at the prices.
SELECTION: SMILE A MILE