We start north of the border for the opening race on the card at Hamilton, which is a six-furlong Amateur Riders’ Handicap.
Giant Spark won an Amateur Riders’ Maiden Handicap at Redcar in emphatic style just eight days ago and comes into this race carrying a penalty. If running anywhere close to that form then this four year old is the one they all have to beat. He cruised to a nine-length victory and looked to have a bit of size and scope to him. He looks very well treated on the back of that and in a similar sort of contest it’s hard to oppose him.
The main opponent looks to be Hab Reeh, who has won this race twice – in 2013 and 2014. The latter came under today’s pilot Serena Brotherton, who will be one of the better amateurs in this field and has three wins in total aboard the Ruth Carr gelding. This eight year old was a winner at Ayr and has gone up 4lb for that success but that came with juice in the ground, which he is unlikely to get here, but on old form could still be well treated.
Ancient Cross is getting long in the tooth these days and he hasn’t won since 2013. All of his wins have come on ground described as good or softer, which would be a worry for the veteran in this race. He did show a bit better last time when second at Catterick and could have gone closer if he hadn’t dwelt out of the stalls. Michael Easterby’s runners are going well, so his charge could have place claims.
Giant Spark (WIN)
At Hamilton we stay for their Mile Handicap where the market is focusing on Bajan Rebel.
The five year old has thrived this season – winning twice and placing third last time out. Nathan Evans is showing he is useful in the saddle and his 5lb claim here does give this mare a favourites chance however I feel this daughter of Bahamian Bounty prefers slightly slower ground. She travelled well at Nottingham found two better on the day. A low draw is a positive here for her riding style but I’d be looking to take her on.
Riponian ticks plenty of boxes in this sort of race. He has only recorded two wins in his 23 starts, which isn’t that good but this is his sort of level. He ran with credit at Ayr when finishing behind an in-form Millefiori last time and the handicapper has dropped him 3lb for that effort. His mark of 48 is basically what he is. His last win came over course and distance off this mark last June when he was able to make all. A mark of 48, tick and stall one, tick points to a big run. If Joey Haynes can break well then he is likely to try and dictate this field, which makes him an interesting contender at his current price.
Togetherwecan is a nine-race maiden. Her best couple of efforts have been around Lingfield but back on the turf Mark Johnston has reached for the blinkers to try and spark this four year old into life. From stall 11 she is another I’m willing to swerve. Stanlow is another at a price that could be able to challenge if reproducing his Brighton run from two starts ago. That came on quick ground and was only beaten by a head on the line because he can labour if hitting the front too soon. There looks to be a bit of pace in this race, which could enhance his claims.
The synthetic track at Kempton is our final destination for a seven-furlong Handicap, which looks a decent contest.
Exalted has progressed nicely on the all-weather of late and won well enough over track and trip two weeks ago. That day he overcame a wide draw and he is better drawn here. For a five year old he has relatively low mileage on the clock. He looks the one to beat in this contest.
Micky Haller is one of the more unexposed types in this line up. Brian Meehan’s charge has only had five starts and shaped with promise on the majority of them. He ran well here on handicap debut when only beaten by just over 2l behind Exalted for which he has gone up 2lb. He was too keen early on, so if settling he is a player under Jordan Uys, who has looked tidy in the saddle
Richard Hughes has had two winners from five runners, so far this month of his runner Bank Of Gibraltar looks better suited to this trip. He won a moderate Wolverhampton Maiden in good style and since has ran well enough over a mile back in handicaps. I like the booking of Tom Marquand on this son of Rock Of Gibraltar and his 3lb claim puts him on an attractive mark. He has some of the stronger RPR’s in this race and looks slightly overpriced.
Bank Of Gibraltar (E/W)