TODAY’S big betting race is the Royal Hunt Cup (4.25pm) and a maximum field of 30 means the draw often plays a big part. However, there didn’t look to be any real bias yesterday and hopefully the straight course will continue to ride fairly over the next few days.
James Fanshawe pulled Primaeval out of this race earlier in the week and relies on Dimension, who will probably go off favourite. The four-year-old won a decent handicap at this course in September and he didn’t run badly on his reappearance at Lingfield. He is definitely one of the leading lights and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go close under Johnny Murtagh.
The big gamble of the race is Edinburgh Knight who has been backed down from 33/1 to a best-priced 12/1 with Coral. He is a big danger and proved his liking for this track when winning the closing handicap on QIPCO Champions Day. That said, he has to carry 9st 8lb and no horse has successfully carried such a burden in the past 30 years.
David Simcock’s yard are hitting form at exactly the right time and I’m pretty sweet on the chances of MABAIT at 25/1 with Paddy Power. The former Luca Cumani-trained inmate was rated as high as 114 in his pomp, yet races off just 96 today. He was second to Dandy Boy in the 2010 Victoria Cup off 104, so this 8lb lower mark should mean he’s ready to go close.
Mabait only moved to Simcock’s stable in December and, although he ran disappointingly in Meydan during the winter, his third at Chester last time over seven furlongs was a marked improvement. He was unlucky in running that day and the return to a straight track over a mile should eke out some more improvement. His draw in stall 30 against the stands rail could be good and he has a much better chance than his odds of 25/1 suggest.
It’s always worth having a couple of arrows to fire in these big handicaps and my other selection is CAPTAIN BERTIE for Charlie Hills. He ran a disappointing race in last year’s Britannia Stakes at this meeting for Charlie’s father, Barry, but he has looked a completely different animal this term thanks to a gelding operation.
You would struggle to find an unluckier loser than this fellow on his seasonal debut at Doncaster when he got absolutely no run at all and finished like a train. All was not lost, though, as he got a much better passage on his next start at Newbury to land the Spring Cup. That form was franked when runner-up, Fury, came out and won a Listed race at York, while the third, Global Village, took the Victoria Cup here three weeks later.
Captain Bertie has shown that he handles all types of ground and with four-year-olds winning the last five renewals of this race, he is worth backing at 11/1 with Star Sports. There are plenty of others with solid claims, including Belgian Bill, Prince of Johanne and Bridgefield, but Mabait and Captain Bertie should give us a good run for our money.