Sandown were forced to abandon Saturday’s feature card after the track was hit by 18mls of rain on Thursday night/Friday morning – much more than was forecast by the Met office. At the time of writing it is uncertain where the ITV cameras will be rerouted to although we do know they will broadcast at least three races live from Dunstall Park Wolverhampton.
The feature race is the listed Wilfruna Stakes over the extended 7f – a fast-track qualifier for All-Weather Finals’ Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. Gulliver was last seen finishing fourth in a Group 3 in Doha back in January over 6f and hinted on several occasions last turf season that he would benefit from a step up to this trip this term. He is the highest-rated horse in the field and at 6/1 with William Hill he holds strong each way claims.
Urban Icon (2.45) has never raced on an all-weather surface and failed to win any of his five starts as a three-year-old, but he is a colt who I believe has untapped potential and is taken to make a winning reappearance for Richard Hannon. Regular pilot Tom Marquand was riding at Chelmsford on Friday before flying out to Dubai where he will ride Pablo Escobarr today for William Haggas in the Gp 2 Dubai City Of Gold Stakes.
Ryan Moore – who has ridden the winner of this corresponding race twice in the last decade – takes over in the saddle. It is possible that these tight turns may not suit the 4-year-old who was described as “huge” by his trainer last term, but I am convinced there is more to come from him this term and I hope Moore can get his mount into a decent position from stall one. The selection is 9/4 (from 11/4) with William Hill.
The opening Lincoln Trial is a cracker and Fox Power (1.35) is 9lbs better off with Via Serendipity for the half length he was behind that rival in a decent Conditions event over today’s C&D last month. The four-year-old is well drawn in stall five, has a record on tapeta of 1312 and should have the race run to suit with Pinnata and Arcanada likely to set a decent gallop. The selection – another trained by Richard Hannon – is 2/1 (from 3/1) with bet365 and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race.
Concierge was an impressive winner over C&D from a 6lbs lower mark for David Loughnane last month and he has now won three of his four starts when ridden by Silvestre De Sousa. Everything dropped right for him last time though and he runs off a career high mark this afternoon.
The each way recommendation is Wasntexpectingthat (2.10) who has never raced at Wolverhampton but whose record at Newcastle – the other all-weather tapeta track – reads 1121. A big run from Richard Fahey’s four-year-old would be a boost for the chances of Gulliver who beat the selection on fibresand at Southwell last time. The selection is 4/1 (from 5/1) at Unibet and is well berthed in stall three.
Over at Hereford and Go Steady (3.30) did us a favour when scoring at Warwick last time and is taken to defy a 5lbs rise for Dan and Harry Skelton. The selection jumped very well on his latest start and I felt was value for more than the 2L winning margin. This extended two-and-a-half-miles is as far as he wants to go, but he remains open to further improvement over fences having won two of his three starts over the larger obstacles. The selection is 7/4 (from an opening 9/4) with bet365.
Saint De Vassy (4.05) was no match for Billingsley when last seen over today’s C&D back in December but that form looks rock solid now in lieu of the winner’s subsequent exploits. Billingsley won that race off a mark of 117 and is now rated 136 while the selection has only been raised 3lbs for that effort. Tom Symonds had a quiet time earlier in the year and has not had many runners in recent weeks, but he did have a welcome winner at Kempton a fortnight ago.
Nicky Richards has his string in terrific form at present and his Better Getalong (3.05) can improve the yard’s excellent recent run at Ayr. The nine-year-old is lightly raced for one of his years and has won twice from four starts at the track. There was much to like about his third behind Portrush Ted here back in January and he is taken to make the most of the 4lbs he receives from Donald McCain’s The Con Man. The selection has drifted from an opening show of 3/1 to 7/2 with bet365.
This will be the softest ground he has encountered to date, but I am looking forward to the unbeaten Nickolson’s (2.00) return to the track at Warwick on Sunday, having been off the course since scoring at Wincanton on his hurdles debut back in October. Trimcolee has won both starts at the track – a Bumper and a Hurdle over 2m 5f – but I am hopeful that Olly Murphy’s six-year-old will have too many gears over the minimum trip.
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