Showed promise in point and over hurdles
Worcester 13:15: School For Scandal 1pt e/w 66/1
School For Scandal races from 10lb out of the handicap in the opening race at Worcester but I think he showed enough ability in a maiden point and at times over hurdles to suggest he can be more competitive than his huge price suggests.
He started his career in Irish points and was pulled up on debut before moving to Britain to join Joe Tickle. His next run was in a maiden point at Wadebridge for Tickle's partner, Danielle Kenealy, and he showed far more than on debut. Always in a prominent position, he moved into second approaching 3 out and was still only about three lengths behind at the last before being unable to go with the winner on the run-in and was beaten ten lengths.
The winner has since won over hurdles and is now rated 122 while the third has won two points since, the fourth is now rated 98 over hurdles and the fifth won a maiden next time.
School For Scandal was switched to race under rules for Tickle and made his hurdling debut at Exeter. He took on Last Royal for the lead from the off and he was still in the leading group turning the final bend before dropping away quickly and finishing tailed off.
He was well beaten again next time in very testing conditions at the same track but showed a bit more on his third start over hurdles when still in touch with the leading group turning the final bend before dropping away.
The form of his Wadebridge run and that he stayed in touch for a long time in a good maiden hurdle on rules debut suggests that he could have more ability than the mark of 74 he effectively races off today. He generally jumped well at Wadebridge so the switch to fences should suit and a tongue tie goes on for the first time which may help him finish the race off better than has been the case on a couple of occasions under rules. I'm also hoping that they go back to riding him handier again as that appeared to suit while holding him up hasn't worked.
There is a chance that he might need a wind op or that he will be one of those who can't transfer the ability they show in points to racing under rules but I think the market has overlooked his chance due to how far he is out of the handicap. Any 25/1 or bigger appeals.
Chance to get a soft lead
Chester 15:10: Thunderous 1.5pt e/w 10/1
It might turn out that Albaflora simply has too much class for her rivals in the Ormonde but one of her rivals who finished ahead of her in a race last season looked overpriced given the likely pace scenario.
Thunderous was well held on his first run of the season at Newbury but he also finished a well beaten last of seven on his first run of last season and he wasn't wearing blinkers.
Blinkers went on for the first time in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and he ran very well to finish fourth. He was sent into a prominent position early on and tracked stablemate Sir Ron Priestley to the outside of that rival. He was shaken along turning into the home straight and soon passed by Wonderful Tonight and Hukum and he appeared to be dropping back 1½ furlongs out but he rallied late on to take fourth, one place ahead of Albaflora.
Many of Thunderous' rivals often race in midfield or further back and that could result in Franny Norton being able to control the pace with little pressure.
The reapplication of blinkers should help and given how well he stayed on at Ascot I think the step up in trip will be in his favour too.
It may turn out that he just lacks any sort of turn of foot and won't be able to fully take advantage of an easy lead as a result or that one of the opposing jockeys will notice the potential for him to get an easy lead and take him on but he showed at Ascot that he can track and still run very well so that wouldn't be much of a concern. Any 8/1 or bigger appeals.
Signs of ability when extremely green on debut
Chelmsford 20:00: Briar Bank 0.5pt e/w 80/1
Briar Bank was never in contention on his only run but I think he could show more tonight at Chelmsford up in trip and on his first start for a new yard.
He made his debut over six furlongs at Carlisle in June last year and was soon showing signs of inexperience as he quickly dropped to last. He was detached off the back of the field at halfway and still looking clueless but he started to pick up a little two furlongs out and he finished off the race well despite not being asked for much effort to finish ninth.
That wasn't a particularly strong race but neither is the race he contents tonight and he has the potential to significantly improve given how green he was on debut and for the step up in trip to 1m2f.
The long absence since his debut is a concern and it might be that he's just not much good but in a race lacking depth in quality I think he's overpriced and any 50/1 or bigger appeals.