3.55 Ripon – The Great St Wilfrid
Long term members will know I love the big sprints and today instead of looking through each runner one by one, I thought it may be interesting for me to discuss how I have analysed the race. Basically I am thinking out loud here …..
This race is complicated slightly by the fact the going is likely to be good to firm. This gives lower draws more of a chance; if it was good or softer then it would be high all the way. I am torn as all the best pace is low, but the specific race stats point strongly to high. I think the way to go is to back more than one runner – a method I often use in big sprints.
OK – let’s look at the favourite. Markab was definitely unlucky in the Wokingham when 4th and best of the stands side runners. He also was arguably unlucky at Goodwood in the Stewards Cup when 4th again. He is a worthy favourite, but the middle draw in 10 is not ideal and at the prices he looks a little tight. Don’t get me wrong – he is a worthy favourite and the most likely winner, but successful betting is about getting value and I’m not convinced he is value.
2nd favourite Excusez Moi won this race in 2006 and has been in decent form all year. Could be perfectly drawn in 19, but my biggest concern is that he tends to be held up and this is a pace track – a track that favours front runners / prominent racers. Of course people will argue that he won in 2006 so what is the problem  – however at around 7/1 I’m not going to be backing a hold up horse in this race. I may be wrong but that is my thinking.
Outside the top 2, most betting firms go 12/1 and I am hoping that we will find some value amongst the double figure prices.
Advanced – a definite for my shortlist. Has form in these big field handicaps (won Ayr Gold Cup); decent 6th in Wokingham this year; could have a good high draw. Does not race right up with the pace, but recently has only been held up once in last five starts. Amy Ryan is decent for 5lb claimer.
Hitchens – has good speed figures and is looking well handicapped after some recent modest efforts. Concern is that since switching stables to Barron the hold is being held up; he needs to be closer to the pace today and if he is ridden quite handy then he may be worth getting on ‘in running’.
Joseph Henry – could have the plum draw in 20 and I think David Allen is a good jockey booking as he rides his mounts prominently in sprints which is a plus. Not sure Joseph Henry is quite good enough to win here but looks an each way bet to me. Last run over a distance that was not ideal can be ignored.
Of the low draws I like Striking Spirit best – drawn 1 which could prove better than the pundits predict. Expect him to track Tamagin down that rail and looks overpriced to me. Ran well enough in the Stewards Cup (best finish of any horse drawn in the 20s).
Of the remainder I could not rule out Jimmy Styles, Judge ‘N’ Jury, Fullandby, Kostar and Ishetoo – so as you can see this is not easy!
All in all I think I will back one either side(each way) – those being Joseph Henry and Striking Spirit. I may well have covers on Hitchens and Advanced – just a couple of quid on each to balance the main bets.
Joseph Henry 14/1 with Sportingbet ; Striking Spirit 20/1 with Skybet – both are offering 1st five for each way
If you are punting good luck!

Dave Renham

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