Rhys Williams' Thursday Racing Tips: Commander to strike on seasonal debut

Newbury
Our racing expert has one selection at Newbury

Rhys Williams has analysed Thursday's racing and has one selection at Newbury...

"Given that the race didn't go ideally for Naval Commander this was a promising handicap debut in a strong race."

Plenty of promise shown last season

Newbury 15:30: Naval Commander 1pt win 7/2

Only five line up for this mile handicap and it's surprising to see Naval Commander as third favourite given the clear promise that he showed as a three-year-old.

A slow start cost him victory on debut at Southwell and he was then chucked in at the deep end in a conditions race at Kempton where he took on the likes of future Group 3 winner Berlin Tango and future Group 3 third New World Tapestry. He ran respectably against such strong competition, being beaten 5¼ lengths in fourth.

He was far too good for his rivals next time in a maiden at Leicester when easing to a four-length victory before stepping into handicap company at Sandown.

Having initially broken quite well, he was bumped and hampered early on which caused him to drop back a little through the field. He raced in midfield and turned into the home straight in seventh. He was nudged along three furlongs out but had his path blocked and was then angled inside with two furlongs to go. He responded well to pressure after that without ever quite troubling the leaders and finished sixth, beaten 2½ lengths.

Given that the race didn't go ideally for Naval Commander this was a promising handicap debut in a strong race. The runner up, Raaeq, won his next two starts and is now rated 16lb higher. The third past the post (demoted to fourth) Matthew Flinders won next time and is now rated 9lb higher. The fifth, Grove Ferry, is now rated 12lb higher and the seventh and eighth are now rated higher than they were that day too.

Meanwhile, Naval Commander has been dropped 1lb for that run and races here off a mark of 88. I think the switch back to good to firm ground will also help his cause too given his action.

He did race a shade keenly at Leicester last season which may be a concern in this small field with no obvious front runner although now that he's breaking better, they may wish to make the running with him.

I think he's open to more improvement than the market suggests and any 5/2 or bigger appeals.

RHYS' PROFIT/LOSS 2021

Staked: 179.50pts
Returned: 183.97pts
P/L: +4.47pts

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