The three-time Grade One winning hurdler, trained by Willie Mullins, will be in action on the Flat, in the €75,000 two-mile handicap restricted to amateur riders.
Rated 164 over jumps, he is able to run off a mark of 94 and, by any rule of thumb, that equates to him potentially being thrown in. Moreover, he was an eye-catcher at the Curragh last month when not equipped with his usual tongue-tie. It’s back on this time, plus regular rider Patrick Mullins is reunited with him.
Sharjah has plenty going for him, but he’s always held up and will be a hostage to fortune in what could turn into a slog if forecast rain hits the track overnight. He's no bigger than 3-1 at the time of writing and I’m going to take him on with another horse better known for his exploits over jumps. See below for more details.
2.30 Market Rasen: Theclockisticking at 9-2 with Paddy Power
He’s become expensive to follow and I’ve come close to giving up on him but the eight-year-old still has time on his side and is simply too well-handicapped to overlook.
It was only last year that he was a fine sixth in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival and he now finds himself competing in much shallower waters off an 8lb lower mark.
He’s had only six races since that Festival appearance - half of those over fences – and has his optimum conditions. An eight-month absence is not a great worry, either, given he’s gone well fresh in the past, including at this course when running over an inadequate trip.
Ballyhome is the obvious threat given that he clearly has a soft spot for the track and was a decisive winner over fences here last time. In-running backers should note that the strong-travelling The Vollan often trades short but does not always deliver when it matters most.
6.30 Windsor: Broughtons Gold at 4-1 with bet365
Tenax heads the market, which is no great surprise, because he looked a bit unlucky not to win at Haydock last time and, having been claimer-ridden on his past seven starts, will now be partnered by Silvestre de Sousa.
I’m happy to let him slide, though, because his race can often be over before it has begun – the stalls have always presented a problem for him – and his penultimate effort, when running at Windsor for the first time, was probably the worst of his 20-race career.
I much prefer the unexposed Broughtons Gold, who might have found the ground softer than ideal and raced away from the protagonists when a staying-on third at Haydock last time.
Previously, he had such as Al Dawodiya and Epsom Faithfull (the pair both reoppose - watch the closing stages above) behind when winning in good style on his return at Newbury. He’s favourably drawn and I imagine Hayley Turner, who is 1-1 on him, keeping things simple near the rail.
6.45 Galway: De Name Escapes Me at a general 12-1
This revolves around Sharjah, as I’ve already suggested, but the favourite is a horse who usually requires more luck in running than most and deep ground may also stretch his stamina.
My shortlist ended up becoming something of a long list. Princess Zoe was briefly at the top of it but, having been 8-1 on Sunday morning, her odds have shrunk to 4-1. She's very interesting after bolting up over shorter at the Curragh last time (watch above) but the price has gone.
One who is surely overpriced is the veteran, De Name Escapes Me, who finished runner-up in the race that Sharjah contested last time after hitting the front going best only for a sharp move out wide to catch up with him in the closing stages.
He looked on great terms with himself and the rain forecast overnight into tomorrow will not hinder him as he has plenty of winning form in the mud. Derek O'Connor can be guaranteed to plot a ground-saving course and his mount is well-treated on his jumps form and proven at the track. The combination, available at 12-1, should be hard to keep out of the frame.
7.30 Windsor: Grinling at 4-1 with bet365
Grinling looked a raw product, on several levels, in his three races last year and probably needed his comeback run in mid-June when making his handicap bow.
It was a very different story here last time when he stayed on stoutly from off the pace to win in determined style over a mile and a quarter. The form looks solid with the runner-up, Rock Of Fame, since again going close and the third, Pleasure Gardens, subsequently reeling off a hat-trick.
Grinling is up 6lb but he’s clearly on the up and, in any case, that is offset by the step up to a mile and a half because his style of running and pedigree point to it suiting well.
He can follow up, possibly at the main expense of Buriram and Golden Wolf.
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