Chris Dixon's top tips for Monday: Merry Banter can have last laugh

By Chris Dixon
Mon 8 Jul 2019

It was fantastic to see Enable make a winning return to action in the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday and if John Gosden’s assessment that she was only about 90 per cent fit going into the race then she will be extremely hard to beat in the King George and the Arc, which appear to be her two main targets from here.

The quality action continues on Racing TV this week with three days of the Moët & Chandon July Festival at Newmarket the centre of attention from Thursday.

Before all of that there’s hopefully some winners to be found, starting with four selections from Ayr, Ripon and Windsor on Monday afternoon.

2.30 Ayr: Hello Girl at 9-2 with Bet365

Nigel Tinkler has his team in red-hot form and after ending a lengthy losing run on just her second outing for the stable at Lingfield last time Hello Girl is fancied to follow up.

It was a poor 0-50 Classified race she won last time but the horse she beat had previous form off higher marks in handicaps and the pair were well clear.

The time of the race also suggests Hello Girl is ahead of her mark as she returns to handicaps in another fairly weak event and a similar performance could be enough to see her win again.

3.30 Ayr: Merry Banter at 7-2 with Bet365 and BetVictor

Paul Midgley’s horses struggled in the first half of the year but they are now in top form and having dropped to the same mark as for her last win Merry Banter may be ready to strike.

She ran with credit off unfavourable terms in a Listed event here last time and will appreciate the return to handicap company.

Her previous sixth-place finish behind Venturous leaves her with ground to make up on Venturous but she re-opposes on 7lb better terms and she’s unlikely to have to work quite so hard on the front end here with a lack of other front-runners in the field.

That previous meeting also came at a point when the stable still were not firing and there is enough to go on to think she could reverse that form.

7.20 Windsor: Free Love at 13-2 with Betfair and Paddy Power

Free Love has not been at her best on two outings since starting her campaign with back-to-back wins at Nottingham but has appeared to have valid excuses with a tardy start and testing ground the mitigating circumstances at Chester last time and her proximity to a strong pace at York counting against her before that.

The York form leaves her with a bit to find with Wedding Date here but there’s a 12lb pull at the weights here (7lb if taking into account the claim of Thore Hammer Hansen) and Wedding Date was seen to maximum effect that day – running on well as the pace collapsed having been outpaced mid-race.

A smaller field here gives Free Love a much better chance of dominating the field and she still appeals as fairly treated based on her defeat of Tenax in a fast time at Nottingham in April.

8.40 Ripon: Montalvan at a general 3-1

Montalvan came close to defying a falling mark when second at Doncaster last time and though up 4lb on the back of that effort appeals as being ahead of his mark.

Only picked off well inside the final furlong by a handicap debutant, Montalvan was worth making up having raced close to a strong pace.

Not disgraced at this track when fourth over an inadequate 5f on his penultimate start, he has the advantage of a favoured low draw here and that proven ability to handle the undulations at this venue is a plus.

Chris' fab four:

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