The opening race on the card at Doncaster looks pretty competitive with a case to be made for a handful of these runners. The only winner in the line up is Donald McCain’s Gradin but this looks a much tougher contest and with a penalty to carry isn’t as likely to remain unbeaten under rules.
Top Of The Bill is well fancied according to the market and he certainly seems a consistent type. That being said however he’s had five attempts to claim a win yet he continues to find a way of scuppering his chances and it’s hard to be convinced it’ll be sixth time a charm.
Despite needing to overcome a near 200 day absence Westwood Ryder produced a very encouraging runners up performance at Huntingdon back in May. The winner of that race subsequently went on to win three in a row. The third placed horse also franked the form by winning next time out. Top-class trainer Nicky Henderson has produced 7 winners from his last 32 runners and should go close to adding to the yards tally with his runner here.
Trainer Archie Watson is more well known for his prowess on the flat yet he’s started to become more involved in the jumping sphere and he may well have a hurdler with a bright future on his hands. If Stag Horn can run up to the same level he’s shown on the flat he should be able to handle this opposition with relative ease. A winner of a Class 2 handicap at Pontefract last time out he’s competed in some fantastic races to date. A fourth in a Group 3 behind the legendary Stradivarius as well as some solid handicap victories is more than enough to convince me that if he’s capable of jumping he should be hard to beat.
Although there’s two former winners currently at the head of the market I find myself opting for a horse who’s yet to taste success. The form of Kape Moss’s last performance looks solid enough with the winner going on to claim another victory and both the second and sixth bagging places since. She hails from a yard who are adept with their all-weather runners and with the addition of top jockey Rossa Ryan in the saddle plus a weight allowance she looks set to make her debut appearance in the winners enclosure and shake off her maiden tag.
There’s two former course winners set to take part in the second race on the card and my selection hails from that duo.
Rania won here just twelve days ago when just getting up close home over seven furlongs. She’s only gone up 3lbs for that victory so the handicapper has been fair enough. As a three year old she’s plenty of room left to progress however I fear she may find one or two with more experience too good.
Fellow course victor Diamond Jill is the one I give the nod to, especially with David Probert in the saddle. She’s been ultra-consistent having placed in the top four in six of her last seven starts and is only a fraction above her last winning mark. A third over course and distance was a positive effort last time and I expect her to go even closer this time around.
Trois Vallees may not have stepped foot on an artificial surface as of yet but her turf form perhaps looks some of the best on offer. The two race maiden finished third at Doncaster last month in what looks to have the potential to be a hot maiden. Major yards and connections were represented and James Tate’s filly was less than three lengths behind the winner. Despite having a former course victor in the lineup this looks a much easier task and I’m hoping Rossa Ryan can steer her to glory.
With rides in all but one of the races here at Wolverhampton this evening Hollie Doyle has some very lively chances on the card and Peintre D’Etoiles looks to be one of her best. Although she’s a six race maiden her race here last time out was one of her best performances to date. She clearly handles this surface and at the tender age of three could still be on an upward trajectory.
The most likely rival is fellow three year old and former course victor Roman Dynasty who also filled the runners up spot last time. He shouldn’t be far away but I fear the handicapper may have given him too much to do having not won since his win on debut.
Of the remainder Society Red has competed in much better races than this and is now below his last winning mark. His current price of 7/1 looks a tad generous and if you are a punter looking for an each-way alternative I couldn’t put you off Fahey’s runner.
I hope a change of yard and drop in class can be enough to see Corvair do even better than he has done of late. He’s making his debut for new trainer Robert Cowell after claiming third in a Class 2 race at Newmarket last most recently. Although he’s produced some solid performances on turf his only victories have come on an artificial surface so a return to the all-weather should also help the four year old and I’d be shocked if he didn’t fill one of the places.
The current market leader is Muscika who aims to make it a fantastic four wins on the bounce however this looks a much tougher level of opposition for the veteran and although he’s been in a rich vain of form I feel his run is likely to come to an end.
Fellow course and distance winner Night Narcissus deserves a crack in a race of this nature but with four 2nds in his last five starts he could prove to be a proverbial bridesmaid who actively looks for a way to get beat.
At a bigger price Shallow Hal showed improvement for a return to this surface and may do better than his odds may suggest.
written by Rory Paddock