Our tipster Karl Hedley provides the odds for the week's races
3-40 TOTEPOOL CONDITIONS STAKES – 5 FURLONGS
Merdon Castle was considered good enough to run in the Windsor Castle stakes at Royal Ascot last season and although he finished outside of the places he is quite clearly held in high regard. A recent outing at Kempton was his first in over six months and he is fully entitled to come on for that effort. He was beaten by another well-regarded type in Hawkesbury who was fully race fit and much better can be expected this afternoon. Liam Keniry has already partnered the selection to victory in the past and he should know exactly what he has beneath him.
Squats racked up three wins last season at a variety of tracks last season including Ascot, Ayr and Haydock. He is making his all-weather debut this afternoon but if handling the surface, he looks to be the biggest danger.
Joe Fanning has won on him before and the duo are worthy of respect. Wentworth Falls finally got his act together just before Christmas and won back to back races at Kempton over a furlong further. Charlie Appleby clearly feels that this drop in trip will not prove too problematic and with William Buick in the saddle he will not be lacking for assistance. Merdon Castle should have a slight fitness edge over his two main market rivals and that maybe enough to see him home in front.
4-45 32REDSPORT.COM HANDICAP – 1 MILE
Gracious George seems to save his best efforts for this track and he remains only a pound higher that his highest ever winning mark. He recorded a third win at this track last month and the form of that race could hardly have worked out any better. The second and the third from that day have come out to win subsequently (Franco’s Secret & Ian’s Memory) and with Luke Morris retaining the ride on the four year old they look destined to go close this afternoon.
New Year’s Night was impressive when justifying his cramped odds at Wolverhampton last month. He powered away to win by eight lengths and is certainly improving at a rate of knots. Charlie Appleby is operating at a near thirty percent strike rate with all of his runners at present so all of them immediately command a second look. If he carries on with the improvement he will give the selection a great deal to think about.
Many other rivals look in the grip of the handicapper at present although Rizal Park has made the frame in his last two visits here. Andrew Balding has his team in good shape and he too commands respect. Gracious George is capable of better and he could still be well in here. He should be right in the thick of the action where it matters most.
4-30 EVENTMASTERS.CO.UK CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS HANDICAP HURDLE – 2 MILES 110 YDS
Urban Kode produced his best effort in quite some time at Musselburgh last month. He was beaten less than a length by course specialist Claude Carter and if repeating that effort he has to enter calculations here. Craig Nichol is a talented rider and he is set to claim three pounds off this seven year old Kodiac gelding. Lucinda Russell has sent out no fewer than nine winners in the last month and with her yard in fine form Urban Kode commands utmost respect.
Deny has been a model of consistency for Harry Hogarth so far this season. He seems to act on any ground and has won at tracks such as Catterick and Sedgefield. Adam Nicol was on board for that win last time and he too can claim three pounds from his mount. They are set to receive almost half a stone in weight from the selection and they look the most obvious danger.
Donald McCain seems to have turned a corner with his runners in recent weeks and Dry Your Eyes put in a determined effort at Musselbugh behind Claude Carter and Urban Kode last time. That was a better effort and he once again has a live each way claim. Urban Kode seems back to somewhere near his best and he ought to go well here.
2-20 DSE NORTHERN LIMITED HANDICAP CHASE – 2 M 4 F
Dingo Bay is a multiple course and distance winner who thrives under testing conditions. He would have finished even closer to Boric last time but for clouting the second last fence and losing most of his impetus. Brian Hughes looks set to ride the John Wade trained nine year old and they have to remain high on any shortlist.
Present View looks to be the main danger to the selection. A first career win at Ayr last week will have boosted his confidence and the Lucinda Russell team are in excellent form. Peter Buchanan looks set to retain the ride and they ought to go well despite giving weight away all around.
The Flaming Matron should enjoy the step back down in trip and is another that should enjoy the likely softer going. She has progressed with each run this season and could well make the frame. Dingo Bay knows every inch of this track and granted a bit more luck in running he could record a fifth career success.
|WEDNESDAY 3-40 CHELMSFORD CITY
|WEDNESDAY 4-45 KEMPTON
|THURSDAY 4-30 DONCASTER
|FRIDAY 2-20 NEWCASTLE