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WITH Royal Ascot around the corner and the Epsom Derby meeting just behind us, tomorrow afternoon’s racing is more about quantity than quality with Sandown, Chester and York leading the way and as a result the size of the fields, even for the more valuable handicaps, have predictably suffered.
The most interesting race in that arena is probably the class four handicap that back-ends the York card at 5.40 over six furlongs.
Despite picking up a penalty for winning last time out at Doncaster, Roundhay Park remains a well-weighted animal near the top of the handicap having taken in better races last season and he is likely to go off favourite here alongside the hat-trick seeking Mr Wagyu.
But for a value wager I am going to invest in one of the rank outsiders KOROPICK.
Formerly with Hugo Palmer, this very lightly raced seven-year-old gelding was a really smart two-year-old, finishing a four-length fifth in the Middle Park Stakes and then as a three-year-old beaten only a length and a quarter by the mighty Battaash on the Scurry Stakes a Sandown.
He then sustained a serious injury at the back end of his second season in training and following a final run in a Listed contest at Newbury he was gelded and spent some 1,093 days on the sidelines before being transferred to Colin Teague.
It is fair to say that his two runs back have been moderate, beaten 68 lengths when last of 24 in the Ayr Gold Cup and then 24 lengths last of 16 in a class three handicap at Newcastle in October. However, this is massively easier, he has been dropped from a mark of 98 to 79 and I am sure Colin would not have kept him in training unless he thought that he could win a race of this ilk.
My best bet of the day runs in the opening Queen Mother’s Cup (a handicap over a mile and a half for lady amateur riders at 2.00) with the nine-year-old NICHOLAS T (nap) looking the pick.
This versatile middle distance handicapper was rated as high as 100 last summer and although naturally he has been in decline since for a horse of his age, he remains capable of winning at this level off a rating of 91 with the capable Amie Waugh on top.
His last run confirmed that the fire still burns bright when he was far from disgraced in the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar, beaten just three lengths by Good Birthday into seventh spot.
Set to race off the same mark here, he should get a nice tow into this contest with plenty of pace up top and can outstay the likes of Viaduct and Carlos Felix down the long home stretch.
Later on at the Knavesmire, OSTILLO can defy top-weight in the JCB Handicap over seven furlongs at 2.35, while MAKAWEE can make the most of the weight he is set to receive from his three rivals by taking the Listed Ebor Grand Cup at 3.35.
Across the Pennines at Chester, BRIAN THE SNAIL (nb) is one of no less than five entries in a field of 14 for local owner Dr Marwan Koukash in the six furlong handicap sprint at 2.10. The assessor has given him a real chance off a mark of 87 here following two moderate runs in significantly higher class at Haydock Park and York.
Beautifully drawn in box No 3, as long as he can hold his place early on I think he will prove too strong for the likes of the front running Lincoln Park and the frustrating but in form Music Society.
The feature Nationalracehorseweek.uk Handicap at 3.20 for three-year-olds looks a cracking contest with several upwardly mobile young horses set to line up in the field of seven.
With Classic Lord better served by some give in the ground and Side Shot disappointing last time out, the nod goes to OMAN hailing from the in-form yard of Ralph Beckett.
He was well behind the aforementioned Classic Lord last time out at Haydock, but seemed to hate the ground that day and with a pull in the weights combined with the return to a faster surface, I expect him to exact revenge on his rival in this valuable contest.
The one mile, all-aged handicap at Sandown Park (3.50) looks a really open affair, but I am quite sweet on the claims of ALEXANDER JAMES trained by Mick Appleby.
The four-year-old has been offered a real chance by the handicapper here having dropped from a mark of 91 to 88 following his British debut at Chester and on bits and pieces of his old French form he is entitled to go very close here.
Finally, at Bath have a second look at Redcar winner GREEK KODIAC. He won that seller in authoritative style and can take this rise in grade in his stride with the assistance of the brilliant Hollie Doyle.
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