Updated 9.18, 9.26
All selections now online.
** Hugh recorded a +207pts profit for 2015 with a return on investment of 1.336, his highest ROI ever. **
JOHNNY BARNES shaped as if back in form when running a fine race dropped in trip in the Ayr Gold Cup last time and he might be able to defy top weight in the 6f handicap at Doncaster today (3.45).
He’s probably been a hard horse to keep right (reportedly suffers problems with his feet), but he’s high-class on his day, as he showed when winning a Group 3 event at Deauville over a mile last year, and his trainer, who wouldn’t be one to harbour unrealistic hopes for his horses, has twice run him in Group company.
Following a midsummer break, he was dropped to 6f and handicap company for the first time and he acquitted himself very well, poorly drawn amongst the high numbers but coping fine with the drop in trip, travelling well off the pace.
Moreover, he was short of room throughout the final 2f, his rider never really able to open up on him, and in the circumstances he did well to finish eighth in a race where most of the high-drawn horses were beaten a long way.
It needs to be emphasised that although this is another class 2 handicap, today’s race still represents a drop in class for Johnny Barnes – at Ayr 18 of the 23 runners were rated 100 or above and 11 of those were rated 105 or higher, whereas today he faces only one other horses rated 100+.
It’s still a handicap, of course, but if he returns to form he might be able to outclass his rivals, most of whom have no pretensions to being any better than handicappers.
I don’t think we have seen the best of RUSCOMBE yet and she might be up to winning the 1m6f handicap at Doncaster (4.20).
This looks a really competitive race, but Ruscombe has more potential for improvement than most after just three career starts, and some of her form has worked out really well. She caught the eye when making late progress off a steady pace on her debut at Leicester, and the two she chased home that day are now rated 104 and 107.
She then narrowly beat To Eternity - who is now rated 100 after finishing second in the Listed Galtres Stakes last time – to win her maiden at Doncaster, with five subsequent winners behind the pair.
On the face of it she was a bit disappointing when stepped up to 1m5f last time, but the ground might have been a bit quicker than ideal that day and she ran creditably anyway, especially considering the winner bolted up off a 6lb higher mark next time.
The ground should be more suitable today, and after just three career starts it would be no surprise if she took a big step forward after a break.
Hugh's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1pt win JOHNNY BARNES (10-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill, 9-1 general - use *BOG firms)
1pt win RUSCOMBE (4-1 general - use *BOG firms)
all firms listed above are Best Odds Guaranteed.
Hugh gives a daily indication of when the column will be published via Twitter.com (username is HughRacing).
Hugh recorded a +207pts profit for 2015 with a return on investment of 1.34, his highest ROI ever. You can view his monthly figures by clicking the links below:
2015 results ROI 1.34 +207pts
2014 results ROI 1.32 +199.79pts
2013 results ROI 1.32 +210pts
2012 results ROI 1.31 +222.65pts
2011 results ROI 1.28 +302.64 pts
2010 results ROI 1.23 +324.79 pts
2009 results ROI 1.26 +500.36 pts