We start in a Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, the first race on the Chepstow card. All eight runners look likely to run on this drying ground.
Sirajiah looks the one to be with here. William Haggas’ filly shaped nicely on debut and finished second behind Whatdoiwantthatfor, who had already got a run under her belt. Richard Hannon’s filly was beaten on debut by Besharah and was more recently third to the same horse in a Group 3 contest at Ascot. She is now rated 101 suggesting that the pick bumped into one on debut. From the Leicester maiden where Sirajiah was second, it took time but the fourth has won since, well others have slightly improved. The drop down to five furlongs shouldn’t be a problem as she travelled well but didn’t have the turn of foot to match the winner. Her & the third came clear of the rest of the field too.
Little Voice looks the main threat but is a little more exposed having had four runs. She’s been given a mark of 79 for those efforts, which include a sixth placed finish in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes won by Acapulco. Experience is usually key in maidens and she should go close but the off putting part is that when she’s finished second twice, she has found little in the finish plus she’s gone off an odds-on favourite, so possibly not one to trust. Also in her three maidens she hasn’t bumped into one as good as Whatdoiwantthatfor suggesting that Sirajiah has the strongest form from her only start.
For me they are the main two to look at. None of the others look particularly convincing from what they showed on debut but are likely to improve for that experience. Apasiona and Rosie Royce both ran in the same Sandown maiden. The latter was the more fancied horse but was beaten by over seven lengths while Apasiona was fifth beaten by five-and-a-half lengths. They are the ones to watch considering neither had the best of runs through the pace on debut and could get a clear run here, which could see them at their best. Worth pointing out that Rosie Royce wasn’t really asked a question in the closing stages. Selena Rose is the only newcomer in the field. Her trainer Ron Harris is 0-16 in two-year-old maidens so far this season, so she is one that is likely to come on for the experience.
We take a trip to Yorkshire for a Class 3 one-mile-four-furlong handicap, again where eight look set to start.
Penhill is a class dropper and has some good form. Last time out he was fourth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock. The second Watersmeet was fourth in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood last week. He won a race in this grade at Ascot in May and the drying ground should help him with his chances here. Danny Tudhope gets the leg up but carrying 10st in a race like this could make him vulnerable. He is likely to go off favourite as he is proven quality however at the prices I’d rather swerve this Luca Cumani four-year-old.
Hernandoshideaway is the least exposed of this field and there looked more to come following his second at Haydock behind Fabricate. On his first start this season he was beaten by No Never at Chester but he improved to be able to reverse that form in that aforementioned Haydock race. He’s one that’ll take time to come to hand and one that possibly may need further looking at his pedigree; he is a brother to Moscato who has won over two miles. His last two runs have been to a consistent level and after a break is likely to be stronger. He could offer some value against Penhill, who is the most likely favourite.
Mark Walford’s Craggaknock has been winning in the class below so will need to find a bit extra against two good horses. He has won both starts this season with some cut in the ground but did win last season over course and distance on good ground. He’s been looking like a progressive sort and could go close here off his mark of 81. He’ll be prominently ridden by Graham Gibbons and if settled behind the likely pace angle in Leaderene could go speeding past late on. Leaderene comes here on the back of a win at Chester during Mark Johnston’s personal best month for winners. She was keen at Chester, which possibly forced Franny Norton’s hand to ride her in the lead. In the end she was game and Energia Fox was unable to pass her. That run is worth upgrading for how she battled and dug deep to hold on. She could have more to come in a race of this nature.
Hernandoshideaway (E/W if 9/2+)
We have a bit of a wait till our final selection runs on the recently waxed all-weather surface at Kempton. For this mile trip there are ten runners holding their positions.
Up In Lights has raced once and won her maiden by a head to Pyjama Party at Nottingham. The second won a maiden on their next start and was second on handicap debut suggesting James Fanshawe’s filly could be useful. She is an unexposed type and there could be plenty more to come from what she showed on debut with the way she held off her main challenger. She runs here off 80 and could be well-handicapped against more exposed types.
Rain Wind And Fire returns to the all-weather after a disappointing run on turf when last seen 40 days ago. At Newmarket in June he was last of nine beaten by 28 lengths. However the return to this surface and the removal of the cheekpieces could see him back to his best. He receives weight from all his rivals and is well drawn in stall three where he can get out and stalk the leaders. He won his second start here and the extra furlong in trip shouldn’t be a concern. The race he won here saw Guiding Light finish fourth and the Andrew Balding horse has won twice since plus was second when last seen. He’ll need to find a little more up against some of these but this sort of surfaces suits him and we could see him somewhere near his best.
Windy Citi has done most of her running here and does have a good record. However she’ll need to find more stepping back up in class. She was only caught close home last time but that doesn’t look especially strong form. Ivan Furtado has started his training career well and his Ready was a winner at Wolverhampton in February. This gelding beaten Sonnetation that day and he has proven to be a consistent runner for Jim Boyle. If fully tuned up since his break then Ready could run a big race. One at a bigger price is One Life Live It. This Nick Littmoden gelding returns to the all-weather following two disappointing efforts on turf. His form doesn’t look strong but the blinkers are on for the first time, which could eek out that extra bit of improvement. On the evidence of his second win then he should see out this trip. Neil Callan is on a break from Hong Kong and has been riding quite a few winners. Since his return he has ridden four winners from 23 rides.
Rain Wind And Fire (E/W)
Podcast – Episode 17