Will the Agent find the winning Zone?

A quick recap to start. Last Saturday saw two winners (5/1 and & 7/4) plus a place at 7/1. Wednesday’s piece was equally successfully with a winner and two placed horses from the three selections.

It’s your typically busy afternoon of racing with Newbury, Newmarket, Doncaster and Ripon before Lingfield and Market Rasen in the evening. The main focus is on the afternoon racing.

The weather will have caused havoc across the country, so be careful when checking the going and potential non-runners.

14:25 Ripon

A Class 3 Handicap and Arrowzone is the one I find most interesting. He has bits of form on soft ground having won on it at Leicester and placing on it previously. Compared to previous seasons he has been lightly raced so far and comes into this after running in a really competitive handicap at York; that was his first run after switching to David Barron from Garry Moss. He drops in grade after that York run and that could see him running a big race at a double figure price if replicating either his Pontefract or Lingfield run. He is drawn well in seven and this is a track where low draw is more preferable.

Arrowzone winning at Pontefract. Image from Alan Wright.

Arrowzone winning at Pontefract. Image from Alan Wright.

is an obvious danger for Richard Fahey. He is another that has good form with cut in the ground after winning at Thirsk in May on soft ground however he is versatile after winning on quicker ground when last seen at Redcar when he just got up on the line to win. He could be an improving four-year-old and with a low draw it is easy to see why he is likely to go off favourite. The magic man David O’Meara has Provident Spirit in this race but he isn’t ideally drawn in stall 17. Two starts ago he was a good second to Ifwecan, who made all, in the Carlisle Bell. The trainer has won the last two renewals of this race and enjoys this meeting at Ripon. You can’t rule him out running a big race for connections.

Eight-year-old Kalk Bay is probably now better at seven furlongs on quick ground but is looking to complete the hat-trick here after wins at Chester and Doncaster. He’s in good form and comes after a bit of a refresher with 43 days off the track. He has shown little off this mark previously, which adds to the concerns about the trip and ground. The only filly is in this race is Azagal and she won off a 4lb higher mark at Nottingham in April. She comes here after a course and distance fourth off this mark. In that race she stayed on well despite having little room down the far rail. With a middle draw she could go close for connections.

Advice: Arrowzone (14/1 each-way)

14:35 Newbury – Geoffrey Freer Stakes

This is a Group 3 race over 1m5f. Romsdal has been running in some really good races with his latest being the Group 1 King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes where he finished third however that race was left depleted with the withdrawal of Golden Horn. In the Yorkshire Cup over 1m6f he was well beaten and nothing suggests he should be around the 2/1 for a race over this distance on this ground. He is definitely a lay and I’m taking him on.

This sort of trip looks right up Agent Murphy’s street. In May he won the Buckhounds Listed Race at Ascot by three lengths where Felix Mendelssohn was third. He won that in emphatic fashion and the way he was clear at the line suggests this should suit. He was last seen in a Group 2 race at Chantilly on similar ground finishing third of five. The winner of that race has since finished fourth in a Group 1 behind Treve, Flintshire and Dolniya showing it could be quite strong form; the second was third in the Group 2 York Stakes last month. Brian Meehan’s four-year-old has been lightly raced, so there is likely more to come from him and at this sort of price he could be cracking value.

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Pallasator should enjoy this stamina test and ground. He was third in October in the Long Distance Cup on heavy ground and conditions look likely to suit. He’s won a Listed race and placed in Group company but can take a keen hold, which is slightly off-putting. Another at a price that I think could challenge is Windshear. Conditions will suit this son of Hurricane Run, who has plenty of form with cut in the ground. He ran well to finish third in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes, which possibly hinted at a return to the form of last season when twice second in this sort of company behind Hartnell and Snow Sky. It’s worth pointing out he is 3lb lower here than when fourth in the St Leger; Romsdal was second on runs off the same mark of 115 here.

A honourable mention to the globe trotting Red Cadeaux. He definitely has the credentials to challenge in this race and has form with cut in the ground. It was a disappointing appearance at Royal Ascot where he was well beaten but after a 56-day break is one that could return to some form. This would be more of a heart ruling the head bet for sentimental reasons.

Advice: Agent Murphy (7/1 each-way: Paddy Power)

15:00 Ripon

This is the Silver Trophy Handicap, a consolation race to the Great St Wilfrid Stakes. It’s good to currently see a full field despite the weather, so it is going to be competitive.

I’ll start with the one to the bottom. Art Obsession creeps into this and the four-year-old is very lightly raced. David Barron won this race last year and puts apprentice Rob Hornby on-board claiming 5lb and he is more that capable in the saddle. Off a mark of 76 he could go very close and has some form on slower ground with a second at Ayr on good to soft off a mark of 82. He blew his chance in that contest being keen early on but did run on well. That race was over 7f, so the drop back to 6f here is an interesting way to go. If he settles then he is one that could go well.

David O’Meara has Flyman, who won over course and distance 12 days ago. In that race Nameitwhatyoulike; Right Touch, Avon Breeze and Mississippi so they have form to reverse. That is plausible considering Flyman is drawn in stall 19 here. When they last met he was able to track the leaders from stall one. There will be pace but he may not get this race falling into place like that did. For winning the handicapper has only put him up 2lb, so he is one to consider. Right Touch would be the one to reverse that form. He likes this sort of ground, has a better draw and is off the same mark. He will need a career best but things look a little rosier for him than Flyman.

A chance is taken on the O’Meara second string. Rex Imperator looks quite well-handicapped for this race considering some of his previous engagements. Now a six-year-old but could run a big race off this mark. He has raced six times for O’Meara after switching from William Haggas. All have come on quick ground; winning once but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win a race like this. He has previously been rated as highly as 110 plus has finished second in two Listed races. From his two runs on soft ground he has placed twice. The draw in stall 13 will allow him to get some cover before challenging.

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Simon Crisford has been quite shrewd with most of his placings. It’s interesting to note he sends The Hooded Claw up north for this race. He last won in May last year on soft ground and his wins do come on this sort of ground. He hinted at a return to form when fourth on his final start for Tim Easterby and then was second by a head on his debut run for the yard. He’ll need to find some improvement stepping up in class again but it drawn well in stall one to track the leaders. George Dryden is another interesting runner. He’s ran in a lot better company than this and was last seen 56 days ago well beaten by Magical Memory on the July Course. The winner ended up being victorious in the Stewards Cup at Glorious Goodwood. He’s raced in Group and Listed race previously, so this drop in grade off a fallen mark of 92 may see some sort of return however he is unproven on this sort of ground.

Advice: Rex Imperator (16/1 each-way: 888Sport)

15:30 Ripon – William Hill Great St Wilfrid Stakes

The feature race of the season for Ripon – the Garden Racecourse. Don’t Touch heads the market and this progressive three-year-old still has the scope to improve further than what he’s shown so far. Tony Hamilton has been impressed on the two occasions he’s been on board and reckons this son of Dutch Art could be something good. Three starts and three wins. His maiden win came on soft ground at Newcastle, so this today shouldn’t be too bad for him to handle. From stall eight he’ll be looked to track the leaders getting a tow into the race before making a late challenge. Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton teamed up in 2013 when winning this race with Baccarat.

Don't Touch is looking to preserve his unbeaten record stepping up in grade. Image from Sportinglife.com

Don’t Touch is looking to preserve his unbeaten record stepping up in grade. Image from Sportinglife.com

David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope have won three of the last four renewals. They saddle Eccleston this year and he could get a form boost in the previous race on this track if Flyman runs well. When he ran 12 days ago over course and distance he was fifth of nine but the finishing position doesn’t really do him full justice with the way the race played out but he did his best work late. That was his first run in a visor and it stays on for this run. He is one to consider with the trainers form in this race in previous years. Mukhmal was third of seven when last seen at Ascot. That race was won by stablemate Midlander, who was completing a four-timer. That was his first encounter with soft ground and it wasn’t too bad for him however that was over 5f rather than today’s 6f. He won a big field handicap at Newmarket four starts ago in game fashion fighting back after being headed but that came on quick ground. From stall 19 he could grab the stands side rail and look to make all.

Richard Fahey saddles another two away from the favourite and it is Tatlisu that would be the one to side with. He ran a big race off this mark at Hamilton in a 15-runner handicap when finishing second to Poyle Vinnie finishing strongly but still being beaten by nearly 3l. The only slight negative is that Jack Garritty claimed 3lb in that race and today PJ McDonald takes the ride; he has a 14% strike rate when riding for Fahey. With the weights difference now between this pair he can reverse that form and he is another that will be looking for cover. Poyle Vinnie made all when winning at Hamilton racing down the rail and from stall one, so expect Alistair Rawlinson to keep it simple and follow those tactics. He merits respect for the way he won that race and he could still go well here if running to a similar level.

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Paul Midgley’s sprinters have been in excellent form this season and Another Wise Kid is one that could run a big race for him. The draw would allow him to track the pace of Poyle Vinnie. He was sixth in this last year and came down the stands side, so his draw is better this year plus he runs off a 2lb lower mark. Dougie Costello has been riding well and rode a winner for Jo Hughes over at Deauville. Plenty of positives and he does have a win on heavy ground showing he can handle this sort of testing ground. At his price he is one that could potentially outrun those odds. Two mares in this race are Gran Canaria Queen and Spinatrix. The former usually tries to set a pace, so expect her to try and make all but from stall 13 leaves David Allan with a decision to make of where to take her. Personally I would be more confident with her off this mark if Rachel Richardson was on board claiming. This ground won’t be a problem for Spinatrix, who has finished second in this race for the last two years beaten by a neck and half a length. In November she placed at Doncaster in a Listed race on heavy ground and is 8lb lower than that mark but off the same as when second last year. She has a good record here at Ripon and that makes her a player.

Advice: Tatlisu (14/1 each-way generally: Some bookies paying five places at 12/1)

            Another Wise Kid (25/1 each-way: Ladbrokes)

15:45 Newbury – Hungerford Stakes

A Group 2 race over the straight 7f and with these sorts of conditions is brings last year’s winner Breton Rock into the frame. All of his wins have been on soft or good to soft surfaces and won this race last year in similar conditions. He runs off the same mark as when winning this race, so has to come into the thoughts. He’s been off the track for 77 days probably waiting for this ground, so having been refreshed he should be well in himself to go and run another big race for David Simcock. It’s worth pointing out connections have followed a similar programme to last season with that break and it worked then, so they’ll be hoping it works ago. The renewal of this race last year wasn’t the strongest and this looks slightly stronger but he could provide value against the favourite.

Here Comes When heads the market and ran well at Goodwood finishing fourth of eight in the Sussex Stakes won by Solow. The drop back to 7f should suit; as this is the trip he’s done most of his winning at. He has plenty of form on soft ground and won a Group 2 over in Baden-baden in September in similar conditions. He won the Group 2 Challenge Stakes in good fashion with Cable Bay and Breton Rock filling the places. If he can replicate that sort of run then he’s a big player in this race but at the prices I’m taking him on. Cable Bay won the Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on good ground and does have form on slower ground but he does struggle to get his head in front. He runs off the same mark as that win, so he is another that could get involved but that was easy than this on paper. When finishing third of six at Ascot he didn’t really handle the quick ground; Arod won that race making all. He’s one to look at placing.

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Heaven’s Guest is another that will enjoy this ground and won a handicap on it at Ascot three weeks ago. He’s previously won a Listed race over a Naas and doesn’t have too much to find stepping into this company. Tupi struggled on good to soft at Goodwood and went out like a light that day and would prefer a quicker surface. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pulled out before racing. Adaay is trying this trip for the first time and despite his sire Kodiac winning over it on debut his pedigree suggests he would prefer a shorter trip, plus has to prove himself on this ground. If he handles the ground then he has some good form in the book having won the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes and Listed Carnarvon Stakes here at Newbury.

Advice: Breton Rock (11/2 each-way)


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