I am going to tackle the weekend’s racing in alphabetical order which means starting at Bath.
If I turned the page of my racing calendar a couple of days early there would be a picture of Harlech Castle for September. Paul Cole’s 3 year old won a nursery at Newbury last season thereby keeping up a family tradition as his dam has produced 6 winners in all. Harlech Castle has not had the best of seasons this time round and is yet to win in 5 starts. He has been running over distances of 6, 7 and 8 furlongs but is dropped down to the minimum trip in the 6.45 at Bath tomorrow. He is probably on a winnable mark if he still retains his enthusiasm for the game and the drying ground is in his favour but he is not well drawn.
There is only one runner from my list to follow in action at Bath and that is the Roger Charlton trained Barricado. His form figures this year of 22433 probably tell the story as he does not seem to be 100% genuine. He runs in the 7.15 which does not look a very strong heat. He clearly has a good chance on the form book if he puts his best foot forward – but there is the rub! An interesting runner earlier on the card at 6.15 is the 12 year old Nimello. He has been predominantly an all weather type and has not run on turf for over 3 years. He won the Lincoln Handicap back in 2001 though when to be honest the draw favoured him. He came out of stall 1 that day when stalls 1 to 6 all finished in the first 7. He has won 16 races in all with 10 of them either at Wolverhampton or Southwell. Off a mark of 46 he would pick these up and carry them on his form of yesteryear.
Bo McGinty is something of an old favourite of mine and has featured on these pages many times over the years. He has found something of a new lease of life in 2008 with 3 wins this year. His last win came at Chester and he returns to the Cheshire track tomorrow for the 2.20. When he won last time he had a better draw so he may find it more difficult tomorrow. He is a bit of a character though and on a going day is capable enough. His jockey Frederick Tylacki is a talented apprentice, one of several around at the moment.
Speed Gifted has always looked a talented individual but has not always impressed with his attitude. He is probably capable of winning the 2.50 at Chester if he can overcome a poor draw and his suspect temperament. Another horse in this race that could be interesting is Solent, who dead heated for first place last season in a listed race at Ascot. He has since changed stables and is with John Quinn who won with him over hurdles at Bangor recently. I know that a win over hurdles is not necessarily an indicator for a listed race on the flat but it might just show that the horse is on good terms with himself and fighting fit.
The 3.25 is a bit of a frustrating race as the horses that I fancy are all badly drawn. The last two winners of the race, Vanderlin and Ordnance Row both line up again. Vanderlin is 9 now and perhaps past his best but Ordnance Row is a definite contender. He comes here on the back of a Group 3 success at Salisbury but as a result carries top weight. He runs off a mark of 109 which could make this a tall order from stall 12. When he won the race in 2006 he was off a mark of 89.
Celtic Sultan likes to front run and won at the May Chester meeting and is off the same mark tomorrow. He is probably best on quickish ground, unlike Ordnance Row who prefers some give underfoot.
Adversity justified favouritism to win at Chester in June but went up 12 lbs as a result and could only finish 8th next time out at Goodwood. He has a 5 lbs claimer on board tomorrow which may indicate that the stable think he is a bit high in the weights. Dream Lodge was 3rd behind Celtic Sultan at Chester and has since run well in non handicap company. He is much worse off at the weights with Celtic Sultan and he is drawn 17 of 17. Pawan would be a popular victor for his trainer/jockey Ann Stokell and he is not badly drawn in stall 3. He is high enough in the weights though.
Carcinetti is perhaps best known as an all weather horse having won 6 times at Wolverhampton. She won on turf at Newmarket last month though and was far from disgraced in a listed race at Chester when 5th behind Green Manalishi over 6 furlongs. She ran yesterday when 3rd at Great Leighs over 6 furlongs. This is a tricky race and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of those mentioned were to win. If pushed for a tip I would just favour Adversity, with the tough mare Carcinetto an each way shot at a bigger price.
I thought about Dr Sharp for the 5.05. He is a course and distance winner and well handicapped on the pick of his form. He must have soft ground though.
Moving on to Ripon Bryan Smart’s Prime Mood should finally break his duck in the 2.10 after finishing runner up on both his starts so far.
In the sprint handicap at 3.50 you have to respect the chances of the Dandy Nicholls team. Northern Fling is a course and distance winner and ran well from a bad draw when 8th in the Stewards Cup, where his stable companion Machinist was 4th. Joseph Henry has only won once since 2004 but you just get the feeling that he is about to pop up at a big price. His form has been a bit in and out this season but he has put in some creditable efforts, including a 4th behind the in form Valery Borzov at Haydock. Apart from the Nicholls trained trio you can’t rule out Barney McGrew who has Valery Borzov behind him when 4th in a valuable handicap at Hamilton in July.
The 3 year old Nexus makes his debut for Godolphin in the 4.55 at Ripon. He is a half brother to George Washington so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.
Lang Shining started the season in style winning the Newbury Spring Cup but he has been on a downward spiral since then. He is not getting any respite from the handicapper and it is difficult to drum up a case for him. One possible line to take is that he could be unsuited by the fast ground he has encountered since his Newbury win so rain might help his chances in the 3.10 at Sandown. Another interesting runner in the same race is the Luca Cumani trained Swop, a lightly raced 5 year old who is yet to finish out of the first 2. The drying ground should suit him and if he gets the trip he should go well.
I am going to take a bit of a chance in the 3.45 with Matsunosuke each way. He likes fast ground, is a course and distance winner and has come down a few pounds in the handicap.
Moving on to the meetings on Sunday, I had hopes for Regal Step at the start of the season but she has failed to sparkle. She runs in the Folkestone 2.40 and I notice that the handicapper has dropped her 5 lbs which may enable her to get a bit closer to the business end of the race.
Banjo Patterson is named after the man who wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda. His supporters have had little to sing about in recent times though and he is not the force of a few years back. He runs in sellers these days but his last run when 2nd at Brighton puts him in with a shout in the 3.40.
Free Offer seeks to repeat his success last season in the 5.10 where he is 5 lbs higher in the weights, while in the 5.40 his stable companion Fearless Warrior represents my list to follow. I am hoping that first time blinkers will enable him to improve on recent efforts.
At Musselburgh Ann Duffield’s Hel’s Angel (picture below courtesy of Ann Duffield Racing) deserves to win a small race after finishing 3rd on both starts so far.
Aleatricis won 5 races in July in the space of 24 days but then came unstuck at Windsor when beaten into second spot. With Seb Sanders back in the saddle he might be able to pick up the winning thread in the 3.20.
Rossini’s Dancer has been a frustrating horse to follow this season and has been a beaten favourite in 4 of his last 8 starts. He runs in the 5.20 where he will be looking to lose his maiden tag but he does not look one to trust.
Paintings displayed by kind permission of the artist Nick Fegan.
That is about all for tonight. Have a good weekend.