CLEAN START THE KEY TO WILLIAMS SPRINTER
UPAVON often compromises his prospects by blowing the start, but a clean break in the Betway Handicap (2.35) at Lingfield Park on Friday can see him register a deserved success that would put him within reach of the £150,000 Sprint Final on Good Friday.
He finished well in a hot 5f handicap at Chelmsford last time behind the smart Lancelot Du Lac and Dr Sardonicus, after again starting slowly over an inadequate trip, and was caught short of room at a critical stage in 6f Wolverhampton handicaps before that. Indeed, he looked an unlucky loser when getting within quarter of a length of the unexposed Nimr at Dunstall Park in December.
Though this slow starter comes with risks attached, Upavon does return to 6f and the promise of a strong early pace will be in his favour. What’s more, the 1lb he gets back from the handicapper for that Chelmsford run puts him back on his last winning mark on sand.
Dhahmaan could be open to improvement in a first-time visor on his debut for David O’Meara. This will be only his second start in a handicap but he does have something to prove after struggling behind Upavon’s stablemate Realize only a month ago.
ROCK STEADY MAKES LINGFIELD APPEAL
Roger Charlton’s decision to swerve Monday’s Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton in favour of Saturday’s Betway Handicap (2.35) at Lingfield Park suggests the Beckhampton trainer believes young stayer ROCK STEADY remains well treated on a mark of 98.
He would have been up against it at the weights in that conditions event won by Antiquarium, but gets weight from most of his main rivals in this 1m4f feature, with regular pilot Kieran Shoemark taking off another 3lb – an allowance he wouldn’t have been able to exploit at Dunstall Park.
Rock Steady has never run at Lingfield, but has proven himself an impressive operator on synthetics with a win over 1m4f at Wolverhampton in November and highly creditable seconds in other valuable handicaps there and at Kempton Park.
Burcan and Hot Beat, who were both behind Rock Steady in that 1m4f Dunstall Park handicap, have both won since, while Winning Story – beaten by Charlton’s gelding in a 1m6f event before Christmas – has gone on to win a Fast Track Qualifier.
Top rated Pinzolo, who made all to win over course and distance last time, is one of the likely pace setters in this field and must give 11lb to Rock Steady if Shoemark’s claim is taken into account. He is sure to make a bold fist of it but could be picked off by his improving rival.
The consistent John Reel also likes to dictate and will appreciate the return to a longer trip after staying on well over an inadequate 9.5f at Wolverhampton. He looks capable of getting in the money, while David Bridgwater’s ex-French gelding Cohesion will be interesting on his British and All-Weather debut.
2.35 UPAVON (ew)
2.35 ROCK STEADY (Nap)
DANDILION , this daughter of Dandy Man, may well have made a winning handicap debut at Wolverhampton on Monday but for a luckless run in the closing stages.
Alex Hales’ filly was squeezed up by the drifting Roy’s Legacy at a crucial stage but still ran on for Callum Shepherd to be beaten only half a length by Topsoil.
She might go up a touch when re-assessed but should still be eligible for 0-55 handicaps and can gain compensation back over the minimum trip.
Charlie Fellowes’s well-bred three-year-old SENTINEL had shown little in three maiden starts but was well backed when upped in trip on his handicap debut at Wolverhampton last Saturday.
He appeared to be ideally drawn in stall two but half-reared leaving the stalls and from that moment on was always playing catch-up.
Under the circumstances, he did well to beat all but the winner and this relative of Abbaye winner Marsha can soon make amends from a modest mark.
Michael Bell had gelded this one-raced three-year-old HART STOPPER ahead of his re-appearance in a 7f maiden at Wolverhampton on 13th January and his running-on third can certainly be upgraded.
This son of Compton Place – third on debut at Haydock last spring - was bumped at the start which made his task from an already poor draw even more difficult.
Nevertheless, Tom Marquand got him into a nice rhythm to make up considerable ground on rivals rated 75 and 72 in the home straight. This son of an All-Weather winner could win a similar race but will be of even more interest once he qualifies for handicaps.
Mark Johnston told me before last Thursday’s extended 2m handicap at Newcastle that his four-year-old ISHARAH had the hallmarks of a Marathon finalist, and he could well be proved right after this emphatic display.
The step up in trip brought the best out of his previous 1m4f winner who made light work of a mark of 82.
If Johnston’s belief comes to fruition, this US-bred gelding could still have at least a stone’s worth of improvement in the locker when he heads back to the track off just a 5lb higher rating.
Without doubt the most breath-taking winner of the past week, BRITTANIC , David Simcock’s three-year-old made it two from two at Newcastle with a bloodless victory in what appeared on paper to be a competitive little 1m conditions race.
The well-built son of Excelebration simply toyed with three previous winners under a hands and heels ride by Tom Eaves.
Simcock, whose colt has been given an introductory rating of 99, tells me: “He’ll definitely be aimed at one of the Guineas trials but won’t run again until then.
A couple of months off will do him the power of good. I’m not sure which Guineas we will aim him at at this stage but he could be anything so we’re very excited to have him.”