Wizard to break Wilfrid stall spell
The layers are taking no chances with Dandy Nicholls' latest bid for sprinting glory at Ripon today.
Tajneed, which won the 2008 running of the Great St Wilfrid, is a best priced 9/2 to land the six-furlong handicap for a second time.
At such prohibitive odds in the hugely competitive 20-runner event, Tajneed doesn't represent much value. Unbeaten at the course in three starts and from a seemingly plum draw on the rail, he undoubtedly has his chance after a few respectable outings.
However, Tajneed is now seven, and there are others with fewer miles on the clock that appeal more.
Tiddliwinks is once such candidate. Kevin Ryan's four-year-old won four times on the all-weather during the winter, and has proceeded to hold his own in better company on grass. Last time, he went down by just a length and a quarter when fourth in the Stewards' Sprint at Goodwood, so 9/1 isn't a bad price about him making the frame again.
That said, Wildcat Wizard, which finished just in front of Tiddliwinks at Goodwood, is taken to confirm superiority now. Available at a general 12/1, Paul Cole's horse appears to have been discounted by the bookies primarily on the basis of his draw.
The last nine winners of the Great St Wilfrid have all been drawn in double-figure stalls, William's Well being the last to score from a low number when obliging out of stall four in 2000. Today, Wildcat Wizard must break from trap five, but he has too much else going for him to be passed over at such inflated odds.
On three of his five starts this term the four-year-old has run with real credit to be placed against some smart sprinters. Latterly at Goodwood, he took time to find his stride, before flashing home under a hands-and-heels drive, leaving the distinct impression that one of these valuable showpieces would soon come his way.
Off just a pound higher mark now, Wildcat Wizard remains one of the more unexposed in the field, and the only concern is his two unexplained below-par outings prior to Goodwood. However, on the back of his most recent effort, it's reasonable to assume that his experienced handler Cole has got him back on track.
Elsewhere, Ouqba is taken to put a couple of slightly disappointing efforts behind him in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury. A stellar second to Paco Boy in the Lockinge, the Barry Hills-trained colt subsequently never got a look-in behind Goldikova at Royal Ascot.
Ouqba returned to Ascot on his latest start, when his run petered out as he finished fourth to Premier Loco in a Group Two, form that has since stood up well. Ultimately, it now seems as though the Red Ransom colt ran above himself in the Lockinge, and also that a mile stretches his stamina.
With that in mind, the drop back to seven furlongs in lesser company, with a first-time visor on, can bring about a change in fortune. Of Ouqba's opposition, Himalya and Palace Moon both warrant respect as they step out of handicap company, but neither should be good enough if the selection recaptures his best.
Himalya is one of three that Johnny Murtagh is declared to ride for Jeremy Noseda, with Sans Frontier maybe the pick in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. While the Galileo colt faces stiff opposition from Kite Wood and Laaheb, he has a progressive profile.
Lightly raced, Sans Frontier was third in the Dante in 2009, and was fourth to Harbinger in the Hardwick Stakes in June. On his only start since, he comfortably accounted for Redwood, Barry Hills' recent Goodwood winner. Sans Frontier is clearly going the right way.
In the Ladies Day Handicap, Fleeting Echo gets a tentative nod. With Sarasota Sunshine a potential absentee, the consistent three-year-old will have a bit less to do.
Best bet: Ouqba