Races come, races go. And then there is the Carlisle Bell, first run in 1599 and still going strong 423 years later.
The contest for what is said to be the oldest sporting trophy in the world, sponsored by Stablemate by AGMA, is always one of the highlights of the year and has drawn a typically competitive field of 16.
The Atkinson Building Contractors Cumberland Plate Handicap shares top billing, although it’s the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Eternal Stakes that carries the biggest purse with with prize money of £54,500 up for grabs.
Here’s fancies for each of those races plus one more to make up a Lucky Fifteen.
2.25 Carlisle: Tangled at 4-1 with William Hill
Gemma Tutty has won with four of her past ten runners, including at 22-1 and 25-1, with another trio being runner-up at odds no shorter than 4-1.
That represents the icing on the cake for TANGLED, who has slipped to a mark 5lb lower than when snugly landing this prize from Makeen (more of him in a moment) last year when Tutty was herself was in the saddle.
Tangled bounced back to form when beaten a neck at Beverley last week plus will have the services of polished 5lb apprentice Laura Coughlan for the first time. Coughlan is 1-2 when riding for the yard and won on her latest ride at Carlisle.
Jackhammer, winner of this three years ago but only seventh 12 months ago, may pose the biggest threat after successive wins over hurdles. Maysong finds it hard to win but should again run well, while Abduction and War Of Words will have their supporters.
2.55 Carlisle: Makeen at 6-1 with bet365
There are no three-year-olds in this year’s Bell and only two of the three four-year-olds in action have each run on 17 occasions, so there is a distinct lack of unexposed improvers to worry about.
MAKEEN finished runner-up in the consolation race last year and has continued to thrive this year, winning in decisive style here over 7f last time after not quite getting home behind course specialist Detective on soft ground over course and distance on his penultimate start. His 8lb rise is a little harsh but given his upward trajectory, plus liking for this track, he represents the safest choice.
David O’Mears’s pair, Pisanello and Arranmore, warrants a second look, while Tilsitt is only 2lb higher than when scoring at Ayr last time after a luckless run at Musselburgh.
3.25 Croseo Cymraeg at 10-1 with bet365
Detective has run here ten times in the past 13 months and won or finished second each time. He will again be hard to keep out of the frame but he’s crept up to a career-high mark of 77 – his first run here was off just 45 – and is re-equipped with headgear after appearing to throw things away last time.
Preference at double-figure odds is for CROESO CYMRAEG, who is only 1lb higher than when runner-up in this race last year. He looked unlucky not to win that day, being carried across the track by the prolific Colony Queen (who subsequently won again next time off a 6lb higher mark) after attempting to come from last to first.
Croeso Cymraeg gave a timely reminder of his powers when surging ahead late on at Ripon last week after typically tanking his way through the race. He should get a decent gallop to aim at with a couple of front-runners in the line-up and he’s either followed up, or run well, after winning in the past.
The other on my shortlist was the Tutty-tyrained Strawman, whose latest win is working out well and is 2-2 here. El Picador and Highwaygrey also merit a second look.
3.55 Clitheroe at 17-2 with William Hill
The official ratings point to Oscula, who is favoured by the weights and racing over her optimum trip for a burgeoning yard. There’s nothing not to like about her, although she’s a short price and others have had less chance to show what they can do.
Snooze N You Lose has shown improved for this year, giving Samburu a race at York (that horse ran well in the Jersey at Royal Ascot last week) before winning in good style from the front at Musselburgh last week.
However, the eye-catcher in that latter race was CLITHEROE, as she came home strongly in third after being given a lot to do. I cannot imagine her sitting quite so far out of the ground this time and, 3lb better off, she looks a value punt to turn the tables and also improve past Oscula. Bar one below-par run on soft ground, she has done little wrong.Start a FREE one-month trial of Racing TV today and enjoy every race live from 62 British and Irish racecourses. Click here for more details.
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