The first selections come in a 17-runner Class 4 handicap at Carlisle. It’s a very competitive race in which you can argue a case for many.
Art Obsession is likely to go off favourite after he was second on his first start of the season at Ayr. He should come here in prime condition after that run and he is a consistent performer having only finished out of the top two once. The fact the handicapper has let him have 1lb back after that good effort means he should go close here. He isn’t out of his depth after winning a handicap in the class at Musselburgh.
Michael Dods has some useful horses and Trinity Star is in that bracket. However this step down in trip to seven furlongs may not be to his liking. For me this grey gelding is a mile plus horse but in this big field could go to the front and make use of his extra stamina. The pace in this race is likely to be provided by Boonga Roogeta, who is another that has raced over further and could make use of her stamina.
Sally Hall has brought the best out of Altharoos so far this season. He was second in a class 3 handicap 26 days ago and could be dangerous dropping back in class of the same mark. Provident Spirit has his second run for the David O’Meara yard after switching from Sir Michael Stoute. He was well-beaten on his first start for the yard 16 days ago but is another runner dropping down in class. We all know what O’Meara can do with this sort of horse however he is one that will possibly benefit for the step up in trip.
Art Obsession (E/W if 5/1+)
We move onto a Class 4 staying race over one mile and six furlongs with a nine strong field.
Ralph Beckett will be hoping Air Squadron can complete his hat-trick in this race after winning on both starts so far this season. He is only 10lb higher for those two victories and still looks one to progress further. He won by just under a length last time out at Newmarket over this distance but was always doing enough to justify the win. He’s a consistent performer and one who will always give you a run for your money.
Song Light has been hurdling over the winter and won back on the flat 24 days ago. He is 7lb higher for that success and is one that would require some heavy rain, as his best performances have come with cut in the ground. Glens Wobbly is the pace angle in this race. His last four runs have all been at Bath with two wins and two seconds. He is usually allowed the run of the race from the front but that may not be the case today. He is up in class and would need to show further improvement.
Sunny Future is a track regular and finished fourth in a race named after him two starts ago. His mark is just 2lb higher than his last win, so the handicapper is giving the nine-year-old a chance. They’re may be one or two more progressive in this field to beat him. Fitzwilly won at Goodwood two starts ago and went up by 5lb. He was a disappointing seventh last time out off this mark of 73. With Silvestre De Sousa taking over from claimer Paddy Pilley he could be one to place.
Air Squadron (WIN)
We stay at Salisbury for our final selection in a Class 2 handicap over a mile. Four-year-old Lightning Spear is unbeaten from three starts for Olly Stevens and holds entries into the Bunbury Cup and John Smiths Cup. He won his seasonal reappearance at Lingfield on the polytrack despite keenness and the handicapper has given him a 5lb rise, which seems fair. He is described as a straightforward type and in a race of this nature he looks the one that can continue to build upon the promise he has shown so far. Oisin Murphy takes the ride meaning he becomes the fourth jockey to ride this son of Pivotal from as many starts.
Man Of Harlech returns from a 299-day absence and if fully tuned up could go close for the Andrew Balding team. However there is a question mark about him on this ground. Algaith has been given a mark of 100 after winning his maiden and a novice stakes both on synthetic surfaces. He returned in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket finishing last in a race won by Golden Horn. The form from that race is working out and he is the most likely to challenge the selection back down in grade.
Roger Varian has booked Ryan Moore to ride Rekdhat. He won his last race in September and hasn’t been seen since. The hood is back on for his seasonal debut and could still exploit his mark; he is more likely to be one for next time out.
Lightning Spear (WIN)