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Preview - 30 May 2008

3.20 SKF Stakes Class 3 handicap 10F Good to Soft Good in places

The course and draw and Pace

A flat left handed galloping tracksuits long striding horses and is only a fair test of stamina in comparison to that of the stiffer galloping tracks. Horses that can travel well on the bridle have a strong advantage of maintaining the gallop, as most big field races around here are a true gallop. The draw over 10 furlongs has little bearing at this track as the horse has plenty of space and time to get into the right position before they turn left into the long straight.

18 runners are declared for this handicap and that number could well decrease by post time as the rain has no doubt got into the ground so there could be some non runners around lunch time up to post time, this could play havoc with the pace angle but as long as Philantrophey and Granston stand their ground it should be sound enough to give the hold up performers a chance on a course that is fair to most running styles over this trip and this should be a fairly decent pointer to these type of races through out the summer.


A nice Mixture in this race of exposed and progressive rivals meeting in a run of the mill handicap for the track. The classiest horse in the field has to be Blue Spinnaker who bolted up here two seasons ago on rain-softened ground that day and even though it may have been more testing then it will be today despite the rain he has to have a chance if finding that kind of form again under just 125lbs in weight. Often held up he has been taking closer order in his races as age starts to catch up and the old boy may find one to progressive for himself but his recent form suggests from the weight today that he does have claims in a maybe weak class 3 handicap. Ten furlongs is still is ideal trip.

There is a whole host of horses that have gone well in heritage handicaps and class 2 handicaps in this race today, but in the main the likes of Granston, Wind Star and Peruvian Prince havenít held there form and maybe are slightly on the down grade which is dangerous because they could be handicapped to go in if finding their old form. Mesbah and Philanthropy are two horses that have also ran well at that level and are less exposed then My Paris and Humble opinion who have held their form better then the other three more proven performers. Both Mesbah and Philanthropy have to concede weight to Blue Spinnaker here and given the latter form of late this course and distance winner could well find it hard going against that rival with the unlikely hood of a uncontested lead here.

The Kevin Ryan horse is most probably best over this trip even though he has stayed further then this in the past and the course win he did get to dictate the pace in so there is most probably more reason to side against him then for him despite the fact that he is on that winning mark here today, the run at Chester was a joke as he cut his throat and the ground there would have been more suitable for him then the give likely in the turf today, Mesbah may have a better chance at the weights with Blue Spinnaker as Richard Fahey horse is likely to find improvement and the fact that he has a claimer on board instead of Paul Hannagan could be down to the fact that they want to give him the best of chances and below 9 stone will help his cause. The run at this track last time has been well franked in my view with many horses from that handicap running well and the winner more then franking the form with pattern form since. He had no chance with the way the race panned out and for quick ground it was quite a slow time overall, however with the form of that race working out he could well reverse the form with Blue Spinnaker and Fort Amuhurst if improving for the stronger pace and the softer conditions which is possible on breeding. However given the weights and the Mick Easterby yard having a strong hand, it could well fall to the old boy.

Class Selection Ė Blue Spinnaker

Improvement and runs

Quite a few could draw improvement from the change in going over this 10-furlong trip and they are led by Hurlingham and Man of Gwent who catch the eye with the latter very lightly raced so far in his career. Fort Amhurst completes the trio of Mick Easterby runners in this race and the local trainer has a very strong hand for this race with all 3 of interest. Fort Amhurst was a large outsider at this track last time and may well struggle to reverse the form with his well weighted stable mate, however the ground has changed very much in his favour as those conditions last time will have been far to quick for him, the trip is ideal and even though he does need to improve to win of this mark against these he is very much entitled to improve on that run and is a dark horse for this today. His recent runs need to improve but this isnít the strongest of class 3 handicaps so it would be foolish to discount him straight away.

Hurlingham looks to be the yards first string on jockey bookings with Paul Mulrennan up for the ride a jockey who has done well on the old boy in the past and the fact that he has chosen the horse at the foot of the weights is eye catching and there would be no surprise to see some steady support for this horse who will love the ease in the turf today and should improve on his attempts over this trip so far. The first run back can be discounted with him often needing a run and this track should suit as he ran well in a class 2 handicap as a 3yo finishing only 8L behind Greek well in a bunched pack (was higher rated then Lincoln and group 3 winner Smokey Oakey), his performance at Haydock gives him claims since that decent effort here.

Man of Gwent is another dark horse who has been gelded and has the mark of a horse that will improve through out the course of the season and the drop back in trip looks to be a bonus after not staying behind Double Banded on seasonal reappearance, the juice in the ground shouldnít be a problem for this son of in the wings and he could benefit from a more positive ride rather then he usual hold up tactics. The other unexposed horse is Intersky Charm who has done well on the all weather but yet to show it on turf, the slower conditions in my view are not ideal having shown improvement for a sounder surface last time out at Ripon.

Improvement & Run Selection - Hurlingham

Recent form

Film Festival and Philanthropy have both lost there way and Film Festival didnít show enough on debut for new connections to warrant to much interest unless the conditions spring a change in performance. Several of these have shown form good enough to win this today and while horses like My Paris, Peruvian Prince and Granston have yet to hit top stride they are not far off running a decent race in a handicap such as this.

While it isnít bless with strong form coming into this race it still has a few eye catching performers who have ran above this level in the last six months or so. The performance by New Beginning is a prime example as the then 3yo made Classic Punch battle all the way to the line over further then this last season on very quick ground, the time of the race suggested that they didnít go hard in front early on and maybe the age allowance contributed to the proximity of the form, these conditions today may have him struggling but he has shown form to this level over the shorter trip with cut in the ground, but would be more interesting when stepped back up on a stiffer track and a recent run under the belt.

The closest to that form has to be Intersky Charm performance on the all weather in which he isnít likely to benefit for further then a mile or the surface today and that of Hurlingham whose run as already pointed out to seeking the buck reads solid enough for this event today with conditions more in favour now then that day so he holds the best recent form with the improvement of the condition underfoot.

Recent form Ė Hurlingham

In favour

Not many horses have too much in their favour with the change of the ground from the declaration date, but the one that catches the eye is Vellied Applause who comes here under a penalty but very much in form after beating Intersky Charm at Ripon last time. The ground, the trip and the course should all guarantee that he runs his race today and it is basically a case of is he good enough to win of this mark today with him high up in the handicap for a pretty average race win last time, not likely to have to much improvement in him he is vulnerable here I feel.

Mesbaah is from a yard that leads the way in handicaps here and has course form to his name, he could improve for the conditions and has handled big fields before as well so he is another to note in this handicap and maybe the better option. Celtic Change if staying could prove to take a handy role with a strong pace on this ground seeing him stay on from the rear, today will be conclusive to weather he will stay this far.

In favour Selection Ė Mesbaah

Verdict Ė Open handicap with the improving light raced horses maybe fighting out the finish of this handicap, Richard Fahey and Mick Easterby are taken to fight this out and I do find it interesting that the stable jockey pairs up with the less exposed Hurlingham for this event and not the proven Blue Spinnaker who has proven a good servant to jock in past, Mesbaah can run a decent race for the Fahey camp and is overpriced for a horse that should improve further this season. Good pointer for future class 3 & 4 handicaps I feel.

Selection Ė Hurlingham 3 pts win @ 20-1 (BF24ís)

Best of luck all

Well Chief