GREY LOOKS A CHRISTMAS CRACKER
MISTY GREY, for me one of the most exciting horses we have seen on the All-Weather this winter, can make it three out of three in theBombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Handicap (3.30) at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day.
Tom Dascombe has revitalised the three-year-old since his switch from Mark Johnston and chooses this 7f handicap instead of the 6f conditions race on the same card that he won two years ago with the legendary Kachy.
The son of Dark Angel stepped up in trip to score an impressive victory off a 4lb lower mark over course and distance last time after making a winning debut for the yard in a Class 3 sprint around Dunstall Park.
Despite stepping up in grade off his revised mark, and giving weight away all round, I’m convinced Misty Grey has enough in his locker to take another significant step up the ladder.
Victory here would put him in a strong position for a crack at the Sprint Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, as well as the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes over course and distance in March.
In opposition, Tranchee is interesting back on the Tapeta. This course and distance winner made the frame in a series of hot handicaps on turf but will need a clear career best to win this.
The hat-trick seeking Papa Stour, himself a course and distance winner earlier in his career, beat a subsequent winner at Kempton Park last time while Intuitive may be able to build on his re-appearance run at Chelmsford City following a wind operation, but both need to dig deeper.
APPLEBY ON WARPATH IN SPRINT FEATURE
Charlie Appleby’s gelding finished well under a hand ride from a poor position when beaten little more than a length into third by the classy Good Effort in the Listed Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield last month.
The winner of valuable handicaps at Meydan and Newmarket last year, the son of Declaration Of War is re-united with former champion Luke Morris, who won on him twice at Southwell for Sir Mark Prescott in 2017.
This five-year-old looked a likely candidate for another winter in Dubai after that Lingfield re-appearance but could put himself in the frame for the Sprint Final on Good Friday if this dress rehearsal goes to plan.
Best in at the weights is Karl Burke’s Lord Of The Lodge, who has only run twice since landing a Fast Track Qualifier at Newcastle last winter and has since had his wind done.
Back in much calmer waters after finishing out the back in the Group 1 July Cup, he has since undergone wind surgery and will no doubt be sharper for this test, which hinges on his ability to handle such a tight, turning track.
Archie Watson’s Above also returns from a lay-off having gone close in a Listed sprint in the summer and can go close if the first-time cheekpieces have the desired effect.
William Haggas drops unbeaten colt Boosala back in trip following a 7f novice stakes win at York in July 2019. He hasn’t seen a racecourse since and has 10lb to find on official figures with On The Warpath.
RAIN CAN STORM HOME AT WOLVERHAMPTON
She took her record on synthetics to a perfect three from three when overcoming a car park draw over 10f at Lingfield last month and only just failed to reel in previous winner Yes My Boy over the same course and distance last time.
A 2lb rise shouldn’t halt her progress back on a track she knows well, having won here over the same trip in September, and she can come out on top in an ultra-competitive form puzzle.
The revitalised Big Country - the likely pacesetter - and Lucky's Dream are closely matched on Chelmsford City form, while top weight Red Verdon might just find this extended 9f on the short side now.
The unexposed rival is Mark Loughnane’s Daheer, who was bought out of Owen Burrowss’ yard last autumn and is unbeaten in three starts over course and distance. This is his toughest test so far but he could still prove well treated off a new mark of 86.
2.20 WOLVERHAMPTON, BOXING DAY
MAKE IT RAIN
3.30 WOLVERHAMPTON, BOXING DAY
MISTY GREY (Nap)
4.05 WOLVERHAMPTON, BOXING DAY
ON THE WARPATH
Joe Tuite’s well related gelding was backed from fancy prices to win a 7f Wolverhampton novice stakes last weekend and ran a big race, only to be reeled in by the hot favourite. He ran a little too freely on his return from a five-month break but can build on that now he has got that freshness out of his system. A 120,000gns foal, I expect him to begin justifying his price tag in the next few weeks.
Charlie Fellowes's gelding was a revelation on the Lingfield Polytrack last winter and has returned from a set-back looking at least as good as ever. He posted a striking return from a 270-day lay-off when chasing home subsequent Listed winner Johnny Drama at Kempton Park and built on that when finding only the progressive Al Zaraqaan too strong at Lingfield last weekend. That effort was recorded off a mark 8lb higher than his last win and he remains well positioned to resume winning ways.
Her debut on heavy ground at Newmarket was left well behind when this daughter of Oasis Dream finished second in a 7f novice stakes at Newcastle on Monday. She looked likely to get the better of a battle with odds-on favourite Duty Of Care, only to be beaten by just half a length in the charge for the line. Roger Varian’s filly is a sister to a useful All-Weather performer and has the credentials to get off the mark in similar grade soon.
Though approaching his ninth birthday, Kevin Frost’s stalwart has been running himself back into top form and is one to watch in Class 6 handicaps in the coming weeks. Looking well in the preliminaries, he closed down a well backed favourite in an extended mile race at Wolverhampton last weekend and is likely to return for a similar event off just a 1lb higher mark on 30th December. He remains well treated on last year’s winning form and will warrant a closer look.
The remarkable rise to prominence of 19-year-old apprentice Laura Pearson was put into sharp focus when she secured a most improbable success on Yorkshire Pirlo at Southwell last week. She found herself detached turning for home in a 6f sprint but galvanised Phillip Makin’s two-year-old to get up by a clear two and a half lengths. Seven-pound claimer Laura went into Christmas with a record of seven wins from 21 rides at a strike rate of 33 per cent.
My tip for this season’s jockeys’ championship Richard Kingscote signs off for Christmas at the top of the table with 32 winners at a similarly impressive strike rate of 19 per cent. Tom Dascombe’s stable jockey resumes on Boxing Day at Wolverhampton with a strong book of rides and is in conversation with me in an exclusive interview on this site.
Jack Mitchell had to sweat in his wait for a first ever century but achieved it in style on David Loughnane’s Exotic Escape at Southwell last weekend - 10 days after moving onto 99. Jack remains just one winner short of another landmark - his 100th at Wolverhampton. The upwardly mobile Newmarket jockey’s previous best annual tally was 89 in 2019.
Social City looks firmly on course to become the winning most horse on the sand this season after completing a four-timer in commanding fashion at Southwell last weekend. Tony Carroll’s stayer rattled up those victories in just 25 days and looks well ahead of the handicapper despite going up 16lb in the weights before being re-assessed. He headed the table with Mick Appleby’s Spring Romance and Andrew Balding’s Johnny Drama, who may both find it tougher to add to their tally.
Despite a narrow defeat in last weekend’s Listed Quebec Stakes at Lingfield Park, the enigmatic Bangkok posted the best single-furlong sectional time in the race. He recorded a blistering 10.98 secs from two to one out and was close to breaking 11 secs in the final furlong too, despite being hampered by the eventual scorer Sangarius. His effort to split the smart winner and Winter Derby hero Dubai Warrior puts him back in the frame for this season’s Winter Derby and the Easter Classic on Good Friday. Indeed, those finishing fractions were much faster than when he lowered the track record in last season’s Listed Winter Derby Trial over the same course and distance.