Timeform’s Adam Houghton provides the Timeform view on the action at Southwell on Friday evening.
Unleash - 18:30 Southwell
There are seven races at Southwell on Friday evening, but the best opportunities for finding winners come in the final three contests, starting with the Betway Maiden Stakes at 18:30.
All but one of the eight runners have the benefit of previous experience on a racecourse, and the strongest piece of form is held by Unleash, who stepped up markedly on his previous efforts with a good second in a nursery over this course and distance last month.
That was Unleash’s first start after five months off and a gelding operation, while it was also the first time he had experienced the fibresand at Southwell. In the event, he took to the surface really well, recovering from a slow start to race prominently and sticking to his task well to be beaten just a head by the favourite, with the first two pulling over three lengths clear of the rest.
The time of that race provides plenty of substance to the form – it was 0.89 seconds quicker than the handicap for older horses over course and distance earlier on the card – and Unleash should have no trouble going one place better if running to the same level now back in a maiden. For context, he is rated at least 5 lb superior to his rivals with Timeform.
Gossip - 19:00 Southwell
Gossip has also taken her form to another level since tackling the fibresand at Southwell, notably winning twice over course and distance in the space of three weeks this winter (also finished second over six furlongs at this track in between).
As it turned out, Gossip didn’t need to improve to resume winning ways in what was a weak apprentice handicap when last in action eight days ago, edging ahead close home to land the spoils by a head from Red Stripes, with Leo Minor just half a length further back in third.
Crucially, Gossip escapes a penalty for that success, so she is weighted to uphold the placings with Red Stripes and Leo Minor in the Play 4 To Score Betway Handicap at 19:00, even though Leo Minor has been dropped 2 lb since last time. Yet to finish out of the first two in three starts here, Gossip looks sure to give another good account.
Artistic Streak - 19:30 Southwell
The final bet comes in the Betway Handicap at 19:30, with Artistic Streak, another last-time-out winner, looking to hold obvious claims in her follow-up bid for the in-form Donald McCain yard (seven winners from 17 runners on the Flat and over jumps in January).
Artistic Streak was beaten by two subsequent winners when third on her penultimate outing at Wolverhampton, and she confirmed the promise of that effort with a wide-margin victory at this course seven days ago. Held up in the early stages, she made good headway to lead two furlongs and then stayed on strongly to pull 11 lengths clear of her closest pursuer.
The handicapper has since put Artistic Streak up to a BHA mark of 70, but she makes a quick turnaround here under just a 5 lb penalty, so she is effectively 4 lb well-in. It goes without saying that she should take plenty of beating if arriving in the same sort of form, with the drop back in trip unlikely to be an issue.
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