Trainer Venetia Williams is having one of the best seasons of her entire career and I’m hoping the stable can add to their success in the form of Eceparti. Williams is known for her staying chasers and here we are presented with a staying chase. Her eight year old gelding returned to action after a massive 253 days off the track and produced a really encouraging third here at Chepstow. He’s bound to improve for that effort after such a long time away and the step up in trip should also be of benefit. With a win at this course before and now sitting below his last winning mark this ultra-consistent horse, who’s only finished outside of the top four once in his last fifteen starts, looks likely to go close once again.
Donald McCain has been farming the winners left right and centre of late and is currently operating at a 30% strike rate. With such good stats in mind it makes it very tricky to look anywhere else but his runner in the penultimate race at Catterick. Donladd finished third at Wetherby in his most recent performance and now dropped in grade should go even closer.
Of the rest Massini Man produced an unexpected performance to finish second at Southwell and a repeat of that showing would be enough to see him finish in the mix.
Perhaps an obvious shout but when trainer Mark Johnston and jockey Joe Fanning travel all the way down to Lingfield for just the one ride you have to imagine it’s because they have a horse with a very strong claim to victory. No Flies On Me seems to be a different animal since switching to the all-weather with all four of his starts on an artificial surface coming here at Lingfield. In those four outings he’s managed to pick up two victories and two second placed starts in what look far more competitive than this six runner field. Likely to go off close to even money he’s not going to bring in astronomical figures for anyone backing him but in a race of this nature all things point towards another course win for the four year old.
NO FLIES ON ME (WIN)
Siding with a horse who hasn’t won in their last 17 starts might not seem like the wisest move however the Kevin Prendergast trained Miss Cunning looks an intriguing entry in this, the fourth race on the card. What makes her of interest is the fact that in a 28 race career she’s never tackled a trip further than one mile. Yet here we see in race number 29 of her career tally she attempts this new distance and I’m hoping this longer trip could be the key to seeing her return to the winners enclosure.
Obvious dangers come in the form of former course and distance winners Power Drive and Arctic Blaze and at a bigger price Shore may go close to finally shaking off their maiden tag.
MISS CUNNING (E/W)
You're always likely to see the royal blue silks of Godolphin represented here at Meydan but the final race on the card looks to be a sea of blue. A whopping six of the ten runner field are set to sport the famous blue of the “home team”. Although former course winner Pevensey Bay has a decent chance I think it'd be foolish to bet against the Godolphin contingent. The form of trainer Charlie Appleby here this winter has been nothing short of impeccable so of the six Godolphin runners I’m going to opt for one of the duo that hail from his yard. Although it’s safe to say that William Buick is the number one stable jockey (he’s set to ride market favourite Creative Flair) it’s actually Appleby’s other runner that gets my vote. Wedding Dance returned from two months on the sidelines and finished third over a mile here in a Group 2 contest. He was only 1 and a ¼ lengths behind the winner Pevensey Bay who reopposes here. The step up in trip should suit, she should strip much fitter with a run under her belt and at a decent price looks a solid each way alternative.
WEDDING DANCE (E/W)
I understand entirely that based on recent form Kentuckyconnection should have little to no chance but there’s something telling me that Brian Smart’s runner still has one last hurrah left in the locker and I’m praying that it comes in this race. As one of the six former course and distance winners in the lineup we already know he acts on this surface and over this trip and with four of his six total career victories coming here at Gosforth Park he’s certainly at the right place. At the age of nine he’s not near his best but it’s perhaps easy to forget that he once competed in Group 2 company and yet we find him lining up in Class 5 company. His last victory came here ten months ago but that was in a better race and with 11lbs more on his back than he’s got this evening. Of course he’s been a shadow of his former self and it’d be foolish to say that others haven’t shown much more of late but if he’s anywhere near his best he could sneak into the money at a big price.
The second of two selections from Dundalk sees me side with another course winner this time in the form of Take My Hand. The five year old hasn’t been far behind when finishing 5th on both of his most recent course and distance starts, of which he was well fancied on both occasions. He continues to slide down the weights and isn’t far away from his last winning mark. The race looks drastically open without a clear and obvious winner so it may be wise to opt for a horse at a big price and Take My Hand seems to fit the bill.
TAKE MY HAND (E/W) written by Rory Paddock