Alan got his week off to the best possible start with both yesterday's selections winning at 8.07/1 and 4.57/2. Today he is looking to add to those profits with two more selections from Market Rasen and Newmarket...
"He remains on a mark five pounds lower than his Imperial Cup win and getting in here off a mark of 126 with conditions in his favour, he looks the one to be on today."
Dr Richard Newland is looking for his second winner of this Listed handicap hurdle in the past three years and Ebony Express, his 2015 Imperial Cup winner looks to have the credentials to get the job done. After an absence of some 477 days the eight-year-old showed he still had plenty of passion for the game as he battled back to get up on the line last time out at Uttoxeter under a great ride from today's jockey Sam Twiston-Davies. He remains on a mark 5lbs lower than his Imperial Cup win and getting in here off a mark of 126 with conditions in his favour, he looks the one to be on today.
John Constable is the current market principle and was impressive last time out winning the Grade 3 Swinton handicap at Haydock by 14 lengths, but the handicapper has given him plenty to do today off a mark of 150 and I am happy to oppose him. The main threat could come from last year's winner Red Tornado who is reunited with Harry Skelton for the first time since that victory. Harry has ridden the horse five times and won on four of those occasions, he has finished behind the likes of John Constable and Rosetti recently but back at a track he clearly likes with a jockey he gets on well with, I think he could be the biggest threat to the selection Ebony Express.
There is a decent prize available of just under £21,000 to the winner of this mile and a half Listed contest for fillies and mares but it looks a rather weak renewal of the race with just four of the runners rated in the hundreds. As a result the favourite Apphia looks to be the class in the field. She brings the best form into the race when finishing a good fifth in what looked a strong renewal of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, that was just her third start and the lightly raced filly will improved again for that run. She re-opposes Serenada again who has previously beat her in her racecourse debut but finished behind her in the Ribblesdale (ninth) and I can't see why she would threaten her today.
It was also interesting to read Hugo Palmer's column today where he speaks highly of his charge in his preview (read here) where amongst other things I was pleased to read "the aim has always been about gaining black type, and this race has been on her agenda for some time".
The main threat could come from the John Gosden yard who do well in these type of races and his runner Smart Together looks too big. The filly was bit green last time when she ran but still managed to finish third over a shorter trip at this level. The step up in trip will suit her and she will have no issues over the ground at 14/1 she is too big and wouldn't put anyone off backing her each way.
2017 Overall (prior to this week): +2.14 pts
This week so far...
Staked: 2 pts
Returned: 12.5 pts