On this wettest of late May days, who would have thought we’d have just the one afternoon turf meeting left after the deluge of the last few days. Newton Abbot, Gowran Park and Beverley have all fallen by the wayside, so we are left with just Hamilton to fly the flag this afternoon, and Warwick and Wolverhampton this evening.
Given I fancied a fair few at Beverley, it is a shame that we lost that particular meeting, but I am also sufficiently keen on one in the closer, the Follow Us On Twitter @hamiltonparkrc Apprentice Handicap at Hamilton at 5.10.
On the face of it, favourite Gunnerside will be extremely tough to beat, and that might well prove to be the case, but Grant Tuer’s in-form sprinter has a tougher task on his hoofs this time – given he takes on five rivals amongst others, who are all rated higher than he has crossed swords with so far this season. Form figures of 12131 as a four-year-old suggest he is not at the peak of his particular upward curve just yet, but he could just bump into one (or two) today and still have improved since last time.
Sound Of Iona, Auckland Lodge, Aleef and Economic Crisis all have it within them to be competitive in this 5f handicap, but without doubt the biggest danger to the favourite, and the most undervalued horse in the marker, is Richard Fahey’s Lady Celia – who is a safety first 4/1 each-way bet to bustle up Gunnerside.
Lady Celia has a strikingly good record at Hamilton, with form figures of 112 here, and she can add another 1 to that under the fairly experienced apprentice Charlie O’Dwyer, who has a wide variety of experiences to call upon from his stint in Irish racing.
On her two starts this season, Lady Celia has raced in a higher grade than she is pitched into today, and that will stand her in good stead, as she has shaped on both occasions as if she has improved since last season. But she just hasn’t had the race set up well for her, specifically at Beverley last time.
On a day when the track rode beneficially to those coming up the near side on soft ground, Lady Celia ran a blinder from her horror draw in stall 1, right over on the unfavoured section of the track. That she maintained her gallop right to the line in fifth, only beaten 2½ lengths, was a mighty effort.
Dropped in grade, and off the back of that ‘better-than-it-looked’ run at Beverley, I don’t feel that Lady Celia should be a general 4/1 shot to win the 5.10 at Hamilton, and so represents a nice each-way bet with the dead eight runners – assuming no dreaded non-runners!