I have a gentle moan from time to time about the quality of Monday racing and, let’s be honest, it often isn’t great.
However, I am increasingly of the opinion that new headgear is a betting angle into lower-grade racing.
The logic is pretty sound, in that the lesser-quality animals are often in need of encouragement and a helping hand, and even the smallest amount of improvement will see them competitive.
Anyway, I haven’t yet decided whether to tip any of the qualifying horses for Monday, so let’s crack on and see what unfolds.
I toyed with Avenue Of Stars in the 2pm, but my opening Hamilton play is Seanie on account of what seems to be some dangerously generous treatment from the handicapper.
He didn’t get to have a spin at Laytown earlier this month, but connections must have been as happy as a sandboy to see their horse had been dropped 8lb since his last turf start in a claimer at Bellewstown in July (where he didn’t shape that badly in being beaten just over five lengths), to a mark 7lb lower than his all-weather level.
That seemingly bizarre piece of handicapping has actually come after his best chunk of form for some while over 7f at Wolverhampton last time, when beaten just three lengths into third off a 10lb higher mark than this, staying on well up the straight under Ray Dawson, who takes the ride again.
I am not sure what the logic is but he stays this trip well and has winning form in testing ground.
I know he isn’t straightforward and is getting on as a nine-year-old but I have to chance him off this mark, with what looks a fair 5lb claimer again lessening the burden.
Bet365 were first up at 8-1 just before 5pm and that is a fair price. If you can snaffle bigger, then do so.
He has an obvious chance after his back-to-form win at Beverley last time, but a substantial one all the same.
A bit of ease in the ground clearly suited him there after a series of below-par efforts on quicker ground, and a 2lb rise is by no means punitive given third-placed Signore Piccolo won next time out and a few others in behind also subsequently ran well in defeat. He has also won off a 3lb higher mark than this on heavy at Musselburgh earlier in the season.
The fact we haven’t seen him since the end of July is a concern, as he has tended to need the run after a break, but the testing ground here isn’t. His form figures on heavy read 21, and he is 652283252 on soft.
Richard Spencer is a trainer going places quickly and the first-time visor on Pesky Wabbitt in the seller at 3.20pm is interesting as he is two from seven with that option since last year.
However, my sole bet at Leicester is Major Pusey in this 5f handicap, at odds of around 6-1.
I was a bit surprised to see the ground at Leicester is good, as I thought the whole country was basically under water but that will be fine for the selection.
Soft ground would be better, so let’s hope the dry forecast for tomorrow is wrong.
Major Pusey had come down 8lb in the weights since the turn of the year before his second over 5f in the soft at Haydock last time, so a 2lb rise for that improved effort doesn’t bother me at all.
The fact that he has beaten only two of his 15 rivals in a couple of starts at this course doesn’t either, and he looks weighted to go close again, though I am very scared of 14-1 Equimou off a mark of just 81 now.
James Fanshawe is 10 from 62 with a first-time hood since 2010, so he uses that option sparingly and well and Natural is definitely interesting on her first start for him here.
We haven’t seen her since disappointing at Chelmsford in June, when she was too keen, but this Listed-placed juvenile is now 12lb lower than at the start of the season, and she is definitely weighted to make her presence felt.
The concern is her state of readiness but I always think trainers are doubly keen to impress a new owner (especially a big one like Qatar Racing) and hopefully Fanshawe will have this €305,000 yearling primed for this task after her break, and she has shown her best form to date over this 6f trip.
This course has been the trainer’s happiest hunting ground over the years, so let’s hope the filly is another Kempton winner for him.
I’m looking for 10-1 or bigger once the market forms properly, although Betfair and Paddy Power went up at 16-1.
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