Tuesday 14 February 2017

Wolverhampton 4.30, Wednesday, February 15

In the Betway Handicap (4.30) at Wolverhampton on Wednesday, the switch back to synthetic surfaces has brought about further improvement in Isharah and, having recorded a career-best effort over 1 mile 4 furlongs at Southwell last month, Mark Johnston’s four-year-old may not have finished winning yet. The son of North American champion sire Kitten’s Joy steps up into 0-105 company for the first time off a 5lb higher mark, but has won three of his four starts on Tapeta, including over 2 miles ½ furlong at Newcastle on his penultimate start, so it would be no surprise if he completed a four-timer against largely exposed opposition. Trainer Mark Johnston has a healthy 25% strike rate at Wolverhampton and jockey Joe Fanning, who’s ridden Isharah to all four career victories, is once again in the saddle, so there’s plenty of cause for optimism.

Selection: Wolverhampton 4.30 Isharah to win

Wednesday 8 February 2017

2.30 Southwell, Friday, February 10

In the 2.30 at Southwell on Friday, Custard The Dragon is 2-2 over course and distance and was far from disgraced when third, off today’s mark, when switched to Tapeta at Newcastle two weeks ago. John Mackie’s 4-year-old drops back into 0-70 company in first-time cheekpieces and is reunited with Joe Fanning, who’s ridden him to both victories at the Nottinghamshire track, so another forward showing seems on the cards. Recent course winners Fujin, Fortinbrass and Dark Forest should keep him honest, but the Kyllachy gelding can maintain his 100% record on Fibresand.

Selection: Southwell 2.30 Custard The Dragon to win

4.50 Lingfield, Thursday, February 9

The booking of reigning Champion Lady Amateur Jockey Serena Brotherton for a horse in a run-of-the-mill lady amateur riders’ handicap almost guarantees that it’ll start at short odds but, in the case of Starboard, in the Betway Handicap (4.50) at Lingfield on Thursday, short odds look justified. David Simcock’s eight-year-old escapes a penalty for winning an apprentice handicap, over a mile, at Chelmsford last week in convincing style and, with winning form over today’s extra two furlongs, is difficult to oppose. In fact, the Zamindar gelding won the Group 3 Prix Du Prince D’Orange, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Longchamp as a three-year-old and, although clearly not the force of old, remains well handicapped on his best form of the last season or two. Unfortunately, he’s unlikely to slip in under the radar, but Miss Brotherton can make what is, I believe, her first ride for David Simcock a winning one.

Selection: Lingfield 4.50 Starboard to win