The Coronation Cup final at Romford on Friday is oozing with quality performers and could hardly provide a better appetiser for the 2020 season. Catch it live on RPGTV (Sky 431) and check out Darrell Williams' best bets...
"With Sparta Master giving his own track-record a nudge last week and back in his favourite trap four box I’m taking Sharon Thompson’s charge to gain an overdue major Romford success"
With two unbeaten competition records on the line and 14 wins in their last 16 starts between them the clash between Sparta Master and Droopys Aoife could hardly be more eagerly awaited. Denied the chance to take each other on in last month's Essex Vase final when traffic delayed Sparta Master's arrival, supporters of Droopys Aoife will point out that she beat her rival albeit narrowly in the semi-final of that event and again late last month.
Make it Master
However, with Sparta Master giving his own track-record a nudge last week and back in his favourite trap four box I'm taking Sharon Thompson's charge to gain an overdue major Romford success (20:53). Not that it will be easy with Ernie Gaskin's bitch chasing a seventh successive CD victory and on the back of her fastest time yet for the 575m trip. The presence of her brother and kennelmate Roman Empire, while unlikely to enjoy such a gifted run to the bend as he did last week, is nevertheless an early pace rails threat and potentially much more. And with the possibility that Our Lucky Fool drawn between them could repeat last week's impressive break the inside route has the potential to get messy.
Running on Rum looks ripe for inclusion
I'm therefore keen to include Antigua Rum in forecast wagering. Mark Wallis' charge tipped up here at big odds last week might have got closer to Roman Empire had he not swung so wide at the second bend but still posted another eye-catching effort and his late running style can result in him picking up at least minor honours.
Wall Garden was a successful lay for this column last Friday but back in his favoured trap five box I'm keen to be with David Mullins charge in the Sprint final (20:21) especially with fastest heat winner Goldies Hoddle highly likely to step left from trap four.
Buster best in railers final
The four-bend final (20:38) is an all-railers affair and can go to Bubbly Buster with the fastest heat winner looking set to take advantage of his trap one draw. Have A Brandy has won from trap five previously but is not trapping as sharply at present and can be opposed.
Seaglass Shadow will be no price in the bitches contest (21:26) but could hardly be in better form, has another decent make-up to work from and rates the night's best bet.
Wall Garden to win 20:21 1*
Bubbly Buster to win 1* 20:38
Sparta Master to win 1* 20:53
4 x 5 ½* RFC 20:53
Seaglass Shadow to win 2* 21:26