IF you still haven’t backed a winner after five races, then the 26-runner Sandringham Handicap (5.35pm) is probably not the ideal race in which to try to get out of trouble.
The biggest challenge with this fillies’ Listed contest is the fact that the exposed meet the unexposed, with some in form and plenty out of form. When you throw in the potential of a strong draw bias, it’s easy to see why plenty of punters give it a swerve.
However, we landed a nice touch in this contest 12 months ago when Duntle bolted up before going on to strut her stuff at Group One level. Her trainer, David Wachman, sends over another unexposed type in the shape of HINT OF A TINT.
The three-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer was having only the third start of her career in the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month when only failing by a neck to reel in Aidan O’Brien’s Just Pretending. That filly went on to run an absolute cracker in the Irish 1000 Guineas itself, finishing a gallant third to Just The Judge and losing second place in the shadows of the post.
Hint Of A Tint makes her handicap debut off a mark of 100, which is a 4lb lower mark than Duntle last year, and she could only finish fourth in the Derrinstown Trial. My selection can be backed each-way at 10/1 – and that looks decent each-way value in a wide-open contest.
The market is headed by John Gosden’s Woodland Aria, who didn’t make her racecourse debut until April this year. She was an impressive winner of a hot-looking all-weather maiden that day, beating a useful filly of Sir Michael Stoute. She failed to stay the trip in the Musidora at York and then won in workmanlike fashion at Leicester last time.
She is potentially top-class and the big field and strong pace will allow her to settle and travel through the race comfortably. The only real negative is her price as 5/1 is pretty short in a field of this size.
The same can also be said of Sir Michael Stoute’s Mango Diva, who is only a point bigger on the back of a decent second to Montiridge last time. Like Woodland Aria, both fillies are arguably still well-handicapped, but their potential hasn’t been overlooked by the bookmakers.
At a much bigger price, I’m prepared to take a chance on the Ralph Beckett-trained WATERWAY RUN at a massive 20/1. Beckett proved he has a magic touch when it comes to handling fillies by saddling the one-two in this year’s Investec Oaks, and this daughter of Arch was deemed good enough to go to last year’s Breeders’ Cup as a juvenile.
She has run two very solid races to date this term, finishing fifth to Hot Snap in the Nell Gwyn before then running even better when sixth in the French Guineas. She may well find that there are a few that are too well handicapped for her here, but she’s no 20/1 shot.
HINT OF A TINT e/w 5.35pm Ascot (today)
WATERWAY RUN e/w 5.35pm Ascot (today)