This is the first flat blog of the season. It’s still very early and I’m still re-jigging the memory and going through bits and pieces of last year’s form. I can’t be too confident with today’s selections, but I feel they offer value and some are potentially well-handicapped. We’ll see how we fair.
2.10 Cork – Most Stylish Easter Sunday Handicap
PORT MOODY appeared to take a step forward in a warm Naas maiden last time out, so much so, the handicapper raised him 3lb despite the fact he was beaten nearly 20 lengths. That was maybe a touch harsh, but it now looks a career best and with him stepping into handicap company for the first time, he is of interest.
Having been quite green and slow away on his debut last year, he took a step forward on his second start before looking off his game at Tipperary in his third run. As I say, last time out was a step in the right direction and he is entitled to improve.
For a low grade horse, he has a useful pedigree as his unraced dam is a half-sister to a pair of French 10f Gr 1 winners Wavering and Mandaean. Hopefully it’s a case of him now getting his act together.
1pt each-way Port Moody @16/1 (general)
3.00 Musselburh – totepoolliveinfo.com Royal Mile Handicap
A competitive one mile handicap here with many in holding chances. While the case, the potentially well-handicapped SOMNAMBULIST could go close if he is ready to fire. This son of Rip Van Winkle is a fine big type with great scope for improvement this season.
A horse with a classy pedigree in parts, he looked to be improving with every run last year. On debut he was very slowly away and green before shaping with potential promise. On his next two starts on Newcastle’s all-weather surface he showed fine improvement despite trying to make the running on a tough track to do so.
His forward-going style will be much better suited to Musselburgh’s sharp nature. If he jumps and gets a nice early position and is fit, he’ll go close.
1pt win Somnabulist @11/1 (general)
4.50 Kempton – Over 2,800 Flat Races On Racing UK Conditions Stakes
RED ENSIGN takes on just three others in this conditions race and is the outsider of the field, but I don’t think he has that much to find, because I feel the handicapper has over-rated his trio of rivals.
There is also a chance his competitors could prove better over shorter in the immediate short-term, as they can be keen and on their first starts of the campaign, they may be more exuberant than the norm.
If this transpires, Red Ensign’s proven stamina over the mile may kick in. That guaranteed staying ability also came over this course and distance and his ability to handle this surface could be another deciding factor.
Trainer Simon Crisford has made a brilliant start to his new career and has his team in good early form. Hopefully the selection is as forward as Crisford’s recent winners.
1pt win Red Ensign @6/1 (general)
5.00 Cork – corkracecourse.ie Handicap
There is a chance the handicapper has given TI AMO a fair crack at winning this seven-furlong handicap. Running over a mile and sometimes on soft ground has seen this daughter of Holy Roman Empire slide down the handicap, having shaped nicely in a couple of three-year-old maidens last season.
Ti Amo is a lovely big filly who moves quite nicely so I’m not sure soft terrain ever showed her off in the best light. Having been slow away and clueless on debut, she quickly got the hang of the game on her next couple of starts; jumping from the stalls nicely and showing early pace.
The problem is she hasn’t been seeing out a mile on soft ground too well, but a drop to 7f on good-to-yielding going at Cork today could be the key. Sadly, the ground in the straight at Cork is softer than the round course, but the drop in trip, could be the real unlocking of her ability. If she is fit, she’ll surely outrun her price.
0.5pt each-way Ti Amo @18/1 (bet365, William Hill), 16/1 (Betfair, Betfred, Sky Bet)