RAYMOND READY TO CLAIM SECOND FAST TRACK TICKET
Richard Hannon’s globetrotting RAYMOND TUSK should present his four opponents with a stern test in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton on Monday (5.50) - a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Marathon Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.
Middleham Park’s smart stayer can confirm his superiority over French raider Funny Kid who finished half a length behind him in a previous qualifier at Newcastle in December.
Raymond Tusk was good value for his narrow verdict at Gosforth Park just weeks after returning from an unsuccessful mission at the Melbourne Cup in Australia.
Top rated on 113, the five-year-old is considered 7lb better on official figures with Funny Kid, who must also concede 3lb penalty to the Hannon star for a Listed success at Chantilly last summer.
Raymond Tusk has less experience of turning tracks than his key rivals, in particular Funny Kid, but isn’t short of a gear change so defeat over the extended 2m at Dunstall Park would come as a surprise.
Richard Kingscote, who comes in for the plum ride, knows the track well enough to have every possible scenario covered but despite being up against it at the weights, Funny Kid can once again be relied upon to make a race of it.
He won the 2018 Marathon Final and proved his aptitude for this sharp circuit when going down narrowly to last year’s Champion Watersmeet in a memorable duel in this corresponding race two years ago. Top jockey Maxine Guyon, who won the Final on the seven-year-old, is back on board.
Rainbow Dreamer deserves to take his chance following back-to-back wins in 2m handicaps at Kempton Park. Alan King’s seven-year-old appears to be peaking this winter but will have to take his form to a whole new level to beat his main market rivals on these terms.
David Simcock’s Deal A Dollar made a pleasing start for his new stable at Chelmsford City after leaving Sir Michael Stoute but looks held by Rainbow Dreamer on a line through Pianissimo and steps into the unknown over this trip.
Bringing up the quartet is King’s second-string Scarlet Dragon, a likeable stayer but building up a lengthy losing run on the Flat and unlikely to bring it to an end in this hot contest.
SIMCOCK VETERAN TO BENEFIT FROM PROMISING RETURN
NONIOS may provide the answer to a tricky supporting contest at Wolverhampton on Monday evening, the Betway Live Casino Handicap (6.20).
David Simcock’s eight-year-old was returning from a lengthy break when finishing just behind old adversary Star Of Southwold over the same extended 9f on Boxing Day.
He travelled powerfully that day before appearing to run out of fuel in the closing stages but is entitled to have taken a blow and should strip fitter this time.
What’s more, stable claimer Dylan Hogan, who takes off a useful 5lb, was on board when Nonios scored off his latest mark at Chelmsford City in April.
Star Of Southwold looks to be in the handicapper’s grip for now and must give weight away all round, but the step back up in trip could see Smile A Mile take advantage of his good young rider Oliver Stammers’ 7lb claim to at least make the frame.
5.50 WOLVERHAMPTON, MONDAY
RAYMOND TUSK (NAP)
6.20 WOLVERHAMPTON, MONDAY