Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles: Mellow Ben is ready to strike

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Wed 3 Mar 2021

Our form analyst has highlighted recent winners Arabescato (9-2), Pholas (7-2), Gowel Road (7-2), Ballymillsy (10-3) and Vina Bay (10-3) via this column and gives you more trainers and horses to note.

It’s been a tough few days for racing fans after ‘that picture’ spread quickly on social media on Saturday night. Opinion and debate hasn’t stopped since, but one thing everyone has agreed on is that the image is unacceptable and extremely damaging to the reputation of the sport – it would be impossible to argue otherwise.

I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of my opinions on the subject here, but my biggest concern is that some fans of the sport may now be left challenging their previous belief that the care and respect these horses are treated with is a more than adequate trade-off for the risks associated with racing.

Hopefully all racing fans can continue with that notion and, as someone who is privileged to see on a regular basis the levels of skill and care bestowed upon racehorses, I can assure you that the image is completely unrepresentative of anything I have seen.

I also believe it is far removed from the level of care and respect offered to the horses at Elliott’s yard on a daily basis - he wouldn’t have been able to train the amount of winners he has without the talent and dedication of his team in producing horses in such tremendous physical and mental shape.

The IHRB will now hopefully move swiftly to make a ruling and hand out a suitable punishment while, for the rest of the industry, there is a need for public trust in the sport to be rebuilt.

Khatm maintained the fine form of the George Boughey yard and brought up a double on the card at Chelmsford on 28 February

Moving on to action on the track, George Boughey continues to impress with the excellent form of his team and, as I’ve mentioned previously, I expect he’s in for a productive season. The winners tally will be boosted by his excellent apprentice jockey Mark Crehan, who was formerly attached to the Richard Hannon team and very good value for his 5lbs claim.

Over jumps, a small stable to keep an eye on in the short term is that of Gary Hanmer. An across-the-cards double at Sedgefield and Huntingdon last week highlighted the good form of the yard and there have been several others running well. Dee Star is entered at Wetherby next week and could be worth considering.

The stable is also represented at Wincanton on Wednesday by recent winner Malina Ocarina, though I’m hoping recent tracker addition Doyen Queen can make a winning start to life in handicaps on the card despite it looking as though she’ll eventually be suited by further than two miles.

A horse who’s been in the tracker a good while longer is Bertie’s Wish, who shaped well on debut at Kempton back in September and was then too free on his second start at Haydock soon after. Given a break and gelded since, he’s back to seven furlongs in what looks a winnable race at Lingfield (4.55) and I’m hopeful he’ll go close.

Other horses I’m hoping may be up to going close in the weeks ahead are noted below with three suggested additions to the tracker.

How about this for a finishing effort? Capote's Dream swoops from the back of the field in an impressive start for Tom Ward at Kempton


Trainer: Tom Ward

Capote’s Dream made a winning start to his time with in-form trainer Tom Ward at Kempton last week and looks well capable of progressing further.

Dropped in from a wide draw, he showed an impressive turn of foot to come from the back of the field in a race run at a fairly steady tempo to pick off pace-setter Turanga Leela and a pair of other prominently ridden rivals to score with a bit up his sleeve.

His previous form in Ireland had been encouraging, especially given that was over further than this six furlongs, and the overall balance of his career so far points to him being a horse who can defy the 5lbs rise for this win before potentially improving again.


Trainer: Chris Gordon

Mellow Ben featured in this column after he shaped like an in-form and well-handicapped horse for the second start in succession at Kempton over Christmas and he remains one to keep an eye on following his latest outing.

Kept to three miles but on better ground, he again looked like he’s in good shape but failed to see his race out having been asked to set an overly strong gallop over a trip that stretches him.

A smaller field that’s easier to dominate will suit him well, while a drop in trip to 2m6f would be ideal. I think he’s ready to win as soon as he gets that scenario.


Trainer: Andy Irvine

Finnegan’s Garden confirmed his return to form with a good third behind a pair of well-treated horses at Hereford on Sunday and, though a veteran, looks a likely type to be winning soon.

Nicely-handicapped on his winning form from the beginning of last year, he still retains that level of ability based on recent outings. I expect he may turn up at either Plumpton or Fontwell later this month - tracks where he has previous winning form - given there are suitable races in a slightly lower class at each venue.

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