In the Cantor Fitzgerald Investment Trusts Henry II Stakes (7.10) at Sandown on Thursday, Trip To Paris managed to win once, over 1 mile 4 furlongs, during his three-year-old campaign, but stepping up to beyond middle distances appears to have been the making of him this season and he can continue his progress. The son of Champs Elysees has a few pounds to find with some of these, but has already risen 15lb in the weights this season and may still be improving.
Certainly, his win in the Chester Cup, over 2 miles 2½ miles, three weeks ago represented the best performance of his career so far and he fully deserves his place in the field. He’s won on the prevailing good to firm going and, although Sandown presents a much stiffer test of stamina than Ripon or Chester, where he’s done his recent winning, 2 miles 78 yards on the Esher track should suit him admirably. Graham Lee, who’s ridden him to both victories this term, has a 6-29 (21%) strike rate for the yard since switching to the Flat, so the former Grand National winning jockey looks a positive booking.
Selection: Sandown 7.10 Trip To Paris to win
The Sunflower Day Nursery Handicap Chase (6.30) at Newton Abbot on Wednesday is a competitive little heat, despite just six runners, but Bang On Time has won three of his last four starts, including over course and distance eight days ago and must have every chance under a 7lb penalty. The Chevalier gelding seems a different horse from the one that was pulled up three times in four starts earlier in the year and he beat a reliable yardstick, Sergeant Dick, in good style over course and distance last time.
In fact, Richard Woollacott has once again secured the services of conditional jockey Paul John, whose 7lb claim effectively offsets the 7lb penalty, so it’s hard to argue that Bang On Time isn’t at least reasonably handicapped. He appears to act on any going, except perhaps very firm, so he has plenty in his favour, despite the ‘steadier’ of 12st 5lb. I’m afraid I’m missing something here, but he looks extraordinary value for money at 7/2 with Sky Bet and Coral in the very early price lists.
Selection: Newton Abbot 4.30 Bang On Time to win
In the Pinnacle Racing Syndicate Shares Now Available (4.20) at Redcar on Monday, Sir Lancelott has made decent progress since returning to action at Wolverhampton in February and can take another step forward. The Piccolo gelding convincingly won a 0-65 contest, over a mile, at Newcastle on his penultimate start and that form has already been franked by the runner-up Chilworth Bells. Sir Lancelott subsequently ran creditably in defeat when beaten just a length in a 0-70 contest, over 1 mile 1 furlong, at Redcar earlier this month, despite being repeatedly denied a clear run in the closing stages.
Coincidentally, that latter form has also been franked by the runner-up Mystic Miraaj, who won at Newcastle last Wednesday so, although 1lb higher in the weights than on his last visit to the North Yorkshire track, Sir Lancelott may yet have more to offer. South Lanarkshire trainer makes life difficult for punters by also saddling Tommy Docc, but a straight mile on a flat, galloping should Sir Lancelott admirably. Encouragingly, Philip Makin, who won on him at Newcastle, once again takes the ride.
Redcar 4.20 Sir Lancelott to win
In the Racing UK Your Racing Home From Home Handicap Hurdle (2.05) at Wincanton on Tuesday, Karl Marx is 5lb higher in the weights than when beaten 1¼ lengths by Urcalin in a 0-110 contest over course and distance last month, but can take advantage of a slight drop back in class. Urcalin has since followed up, by 15 lengths, in a 0-120 contest at Kempton, so the form looks substantially better than it did at the time and suggests that, despite the weight rise, Karl Marx is extremely well handicapped.
Mark Gillard’s five-year-old has won just twice from 22 starts over hurdles but, to be fair, was for a long time fighting a losing battle against the handicapper. The assessor took exception to his win in a selling hurdle at Exeter in March last year, raising him 18lb an effectively putting paid to his chances in handicaps. His current mark of 87 is much more realistic and he could yet rate a little higher now that he’s managed to win again. The son of Red Clubs is 7lb worse off for the 1¾ lengths he beat Titch Strider over course and distance on his penultimate start, but appeared to better that form last time and deserves a chance to confirm that promise.
Selection: Wincanton 2.05 Karl Marx to win