Disputed can leave William H Bonney for dead
There's a great line in the film Young Guns II involving the gunfighter Doc Scurlock, played by Kiefer Sutherland, and William H Bonny (aka Billy The Kid), played by Emilio Estevez.
Scurlock points the gun and says "William H Bonny! You are not a god!" to which Bonny replies "Why don't you pull the trigger and find out?"
Born as Henry McCarty but known by various aliases including Henry Antrim and William H Bonny, Billy The Kid was involved in the Lincoln County War down in New Mexico, which was basically a feud between two factions in the Old West over the control of cattle and goods.
When Lincoln County Sheriff William J Brady was shot and killed, Billy The Kid was charged with murder and captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
The judge reportedly said "You are sentenced to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead!" to which Billy The Kid responded "And you can go to hell, hell, hell!"
He somehow managed to escape and remained on the run for a couple of months but eventually, Garrett caught up with him and shot him dead at Fort Summer; Billy was just 21.
His legend grew, and the stories were exaggerated but it's a fascinating tale. I'm digressing from the horses, but if you are one of those that back purely on names, I'm sure you'd be tempted to pick William H Bonney today in the Grade Three Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown (3.0).
Trained by Alan King, the six-year-old certainly has claims and he caught the eye when winning a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in late January off a mark of 132. But it's fair to say that he was quite disappointing at 15/2 a couple of weeks later when only managing 11th in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury under a 5lb penalty.
According to King, that race came a little soon for him and the Barbury Castle chief has said he's in good form at home, but up 2lb on his Cheltenham race, I think this will be somewhat tougher than the market predicts and I'd want a little more than the 11/2 on offer yesterday evening before I'd be tempted to bite.
We look elsewhere for a bit of value then, and I'm really warming to Chris Gordon's Disputed, which is expected to go off in the region of 10/1 under Tom Cannon.
Fourth in that aforementioned handicap hurdle at Cheltenham off an official rating of 126, he can be a little frustrating to follow and he often has to be coaxed along to get a bit more out of him, especially in the final stages.
Perhaps he's a little lazy and it's over a year and nine races since he won, but he's almost always thereabouts and 1lb lighter here compared to Cheltenham seems about right. He has become more consistent this term and I think his trainer is finally beginning to figure out his quirky nature.
Second in a four-runner handicap hurdle at Lingfield last time having traded at 1/3 in-running, he won't mind the softer ground but considering his attitude to battle in the final stages, perhaps it's best to go each-way at the prices.
Another one with a leading chance but too short in the betting for me around 4/1 is the top-weight Fixe Le Kap. Rated 138, he's won two races out of seven and was expected to go chasing, although that option appears to be on ice following a below-par performance when eighth in the Fred Winter at last year's Cheltenham Festival off 142.
This looks to be within his range but we've no way of knowing how well he is following a year-long break, and I'm not willing to spend money in finding out.
A short time later at Wolverhampton, Yuften is likely to prove popular in the betting for the Listed Sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes (3.15) for trainer Roger Charlton.
The six-year-old has been through a couple of handlers, including William Haggas and Johnny Murtagh, but he's settling down for his current yard and was last seen winning the Balmoral Handicap. It was a very messy race, however, and a few were hampered when Yuften hung left.
As such, I think the form is suspect and once again, I'm not happy to take a short price of around 4/1.
Instead, My Target might be the one to side with at twice those odds. Michael Wigham's in-form Cape Cross gelding comes here after a four-timer at Lingfield which has seen his official rating go up from 89 in December to 107 today.
The most recent of those wins was last week, in which he showed a cracking turn of foot to beat Franco's Secret in a reasonably good handicap, and he deserves a shot at a Listed race. Connor Beasley's mount is back down to seven furlongs for the first time since October having been racing over a mile lately, but he's won at this distance a number of times and appears to be thriving.
At the time of writing, the market can't split Holiday Magic and Nimr in the 13-runner Sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap (2.05). The former has gone up 20lb to 96 since December following three wins from five, while the latter comes here on the back of a course win in a useful handicap last month.
Both are in with a shout but Forceful Appeal is preferred at a nice each-way price in the region of 12/1. An all-weather specialist, Simon Dow's gelding slips in at the bottom of the weights rated 91 for a racing weight of 8st 10lbs following his last place of five at Lingfield recently off 93.
Certainly, it was a little disappointing but the pace was for snails and he never really got a chance to get into a good gallop. He was out of his depth previously in the Winter Derby Trial but that was reflected in his price of 50/1, and he's back at a realistic level today.
1.50 Sandown: Man From Mars
2.05 Wolverhampton: Forceful Appeal (e/w)
3.0 Sandown: Disputed (e/w)
3.15 Wolverhampton: My Target
3.35 Sandown: Petticoat Tails
3.40 Gowran: Caolaneoin
7.45 Chelmsford: Dubai Waves