All-weather expert Jamie Maynard previews the pick of the action at Wolverhampton tonight.
The action kicks off with this seven-furlong nursery. Swissal brings winning form to the table having stayed on nicely over a furlong shorter at Chelmsford so the step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem but he’s been raised 6lb and has to overcome a wide draw which could be his downfall.
Laubali made a pleasing stable debut for David O'Meara last time when a staying-on fourth and that run suggested that he needs this extra furlong here and you can't ignore John Gosden's runners at the course where he has such a fine strike-rate (35% from 127 runners). He runs Poetic Imagination, who was brushed aside here recently so the addition of a first-time visor will need to bring about improvement if this filly’s going to enhance those numbers..
The selection is Ed Dunlop’s colt MR GENT who is taken to go one better than last week’s second at Kempton.
He'd previously posted a trio of fair efforts on the turf but the switch to synthetics along with the addition of first-time cheekpieces conjured a great deal of improvement despite losing by a neck, as the front two pulled clear of the rest of the field.
A similar effort here today off an unchanged mark should see him go close with PJ McDonald enjoying a good spell in the saddle.
The feature race on the card is over the minimum trip and will be a case of blink and you'll miss it with plenty of speed on offer.
Bowson Fred went close the last day and has a course and distance win to his name but the fact he hasn’t won since June of last year must be a concern and he’s still sitting 3lb above his highest winning mark.
Stable debutant Sign Of The Kodiac has done most his winning over this distance and this grade and is now a pound lower than his last all-weather success but a wide draw isn’t ideal.
Gracious John looks to have a live chance off top-weight on the back of victory in a similar race to this at Lingfield last week and he won around this time last year off this very mark, but I prefer David Simcock’s DOCTOR SARDONICUS to land a third successive all-weather victory.
This six-year old finished his race off strongly last time and it looks likely that he’ll have more to offer despite a 6lb higher mark now fresh from a break. He saves his best runs for the synthetics, goes well at the trip and his handler is in red-hot form with six winners from his last 14 runners (43% strike-rate).
Martin Harley has struck up a nice rapport with this horse and if there’s any more improvement left in him then he’ll go very close from a handy draw.
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Posted at 0920 GMT on 22/12/17