This field of 11 for this Selling Handicap Chase isn’t too inspiring looking at it on raw form. However it is quite easy to narrow it down to a shortlist of only around two or three.
Chicago Outfit at a quick glance doesn’t have the best form but is a horse that jumps soundly and is quite lightly raced considering prior to his run last month he hadn’t raced for nearly a year. It looks like he has been saved for the better ground, which his last win back in October 2013 came on and that was here over course and distance. You can look back and see that his mark on his last win was at 92. He races off just 76 with a 5lb claimer in Jonathon Bewley taking the ride. That is his only win under rules but could be worth chancing each-way in a wide-open race. He was 5th at Hexham last time out and returns to this trip of 2m7f and will be better after that run. If in touch over the final couple of fences he is one that should stay on well.
West Ship Master has been running over distances of 3m1f in recent times and despite not winning his mark is rising. He was 2nd in the Hexham race mentioned above where he jumped well but didn’t have enough to challenge the winner. He is a consistent type placing in six of his last seven races. That leaves a question mark over him. Does he find one better every time or does he shirk the issue in front? Depending on his price he could be one to back each-way or without the favourite. You couldn’t back him to win considering he has only won once in 48 starts and that was back in 2009. He isn’t one that has found winning too easy and is one to potentially side with each-way.
Oxalido is more of an inconsistent performer but on a going day can be useful. He won at Hexham in March beating My Friend George, who also runs here. 2nd at Perth last time out over 3m he could be dangerous only 2lb higher than his Hexham success as John Kington takes 3lb off. As a 13-year-old there are concerns if he can perform well when being turned out so quickly. My Friend George is a consistent type but is another that is off a rising mark for one win in his last four starts. Two wins from nine chase starts suggest he could be another to watch in the market considering he has form over further too.
Chicago Outfit (E/W)
This is a track where I like to see course form. It is a difficult track to ride and can catch horses out. This looks like an opportunity for Roy Rocket to make it a hat-trick.
He won here two weeks ago over 1m2f and last week made it two from two over 1m4f. Jon Egan is on board again having ridden him to the two success’ and he has ridden four winners from six rides at this track from their opening two meetings this season. He’s a fairly experienced jockey and his strike rate here proves he knows the best way around this undulating horseshoe shaped track.
Trainer John Berry has a 60% strike rate at the track having won three races from just five runners, including two of Roy Rocket’s triumphs. If backing Berry’s horses to a £1 stake it works out to a profit of £24. He is a shrewd operator and this race is quite similar to the two his gelding has won at this track. He is the most likely winner and can overcome a penalty, like he did when winning here last week.
When winning here two starts ago he was settled in rear before going four wide to challenge from 2f out. He ran on well and beat Tamujin quite easily in the end by ¾l. Last time he broke well and followed similar tactics of being dropped in at the rear of the pack. This time he made his move from about 3f out and got into the lead from 1f out before continuing to run strongly and win by 3¼l. The drop back in trip by 1f is not a worry and he should be able to over a 6lb penalty as he did last week.
He has gone up 10lb for both winning efforts but he should be able to continue his fine recent form by utilising his stamina and speed. The grey has seen off seven rivals in both runs, so this field of six should suit him well. Snow Conditions is an interesting runner back on the flat after an attempt over hurdles at Plumpton. He was top rated 63 on the flat and won here in September over 1m4f. If he is able to replicate that he will be close at the finish however his form has seemingly gone the wrong way. Now rated at 58, which is just 2lb higher than that aforementioned win. Pat Dobbs takes the ride and has a 15% strike rate here.
Sandy Cove is the other danger if he can translate his good recent all-weather form back onto turf. A mark of 70 would mean this four-year-old would need a career best effort. He could still be an improving sort, so he could come good here back on turf considering he was a consistent performer, especially at this Sussex track. Bowsers Bold is still a maiden after 16 runners. He is another consistent type on the all-weather running back on turf for the first time this season. The first time blinkers could be something that sees him get close to a win after showing potential over this trip at Kempton on two occasions.
Roy Rocket (WIN)
Sir Isaac Newton was a beaten favourite on his first start at Leopardstown. That day he ran into Zawraq, who is currently second favourite for The Derby at Epsom. The Dermot Weld gelding won a Guineas trial on his second start at the same track over a mile making him a leading contender for the Classic, in which I have already backed him. In their debut running the pair were 7½l clear of the rest of the field.
Aidan O’Brien said that run last season was one to give him racecourse experience for which he can build on this season. He is hoping for decent ground for running this full brother to Secret Gesture, who herself was placed in a number of Group 1s suggesting he has the pedigree to be a very good type, especially considering his sire is Galileo. Considering he is being lined up for the Irish 2,000 Guineas or a Derby trial shows how highly thought of he is in the yard. This trip is what O’Brien talked about as suiting him after his debut run was only over 7f, so improvement for trip, his racecourse and from 2 to 3 should help him in this field. The only concern would be handling a sharp Chester track.
The John Gosden trained Keble is the obvious danger on form where finished a well-beaten second to Intilaaq, who then was only 15th in the 1,000 Guineas on Saturday. He should handle the ground (currently good to soft) as his sire Teofilo won the Dewhurst Stakes on similar ground in 2006, however O’Brien did say in his stable tour by the Racing Post that the best will come on quick ground. He could be the big improver stepping up in trip by 2f.
Mr Quicksilver would also be on the shortlist. He showed improvement on turf in his second start after making his debut at Kempton on the polytracks. He was 3rd at Epsom, so he should handle the Chester track quite well. He is from Dansili, who had 4 Group 1 winners last season. This Andrew Balding colt currently holds a Derby entry so he needs to go well to see any chance of him heading back to Epsom.
Cymro and Champagne Bob are only rated in the 70’s, for them to be in contention they would need to have showed improvement from their five and four starts respectively.
Sir Isaac Newton (WIN)
by Matthew Kirby