Wednesday 25 April 2018

Eccleston to enhance O'Meara's fine record in Ripon sprint

David O'Meara at York racecourse
David O'Meara at York racecourse

Wayne Bailey

With an average field size of 19 in the past five years, the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (3.30 Ripon) is not an easy race to win.

However, Fermoy native David O'Meara seems to have a handle on it, having saddled no fewer than three of the last four winners from a total of six runners.

Ripon is one of those unusual, undulating courses with an uphill finish which can catch out jockeys and horses alike so course experience is usually a plus.

O'Meara's sole entry Eccleston raced here earlier on this month and, while it's fair to say that on paper his fifth place from nine runners does not offer a great deal of hope for today, it was a very messy affair which lacked a strong gallop so I doubt the form of that race is worth very much.

The handicapper, it seems, has taken the same view and left him on a mark of 91 which means he slips in today at the bottom of the weights off 8st 11lbs.

Having won a competitive handicap at Haydock in May off a rating of 90, he struggled when raised to 93 but he's back down to a realistic level and the visor, which he wore for the first time when last here, makes a reappearance.

In a wide-open field, the 14/1 on offer in the early markets is a pretty good deal.

Jockey Daniel Tudhope also rode O'Meara's other Great St Wilfrid winners so he knows the course's quirks as well as anyone.

Richard Fahey's Don't Touch is respected and will probably go off as favourite around 6/1 having won all three career starts to date. But his lack of experience is a worry and considering the last three-year-old to win was back in 1999, those odds seem a little skinny.

At Newbury, Here Comes When stands out at 7/2 or thereabouts in the Group Two Betfred Hungerford Stakes (3.45) for trainer Andrew Balding.

He beat a couple of these including Breton Rock in a Group Two at Newmarket last season and his best form comes on softer ground - so if the rain arrives, it will boost his chances considerably.

To finish fourth in the Group One Sussex Stakes last time on good ground was no mean feat and this race looks right up his street.

That said, Breton Rock won't let him have it all his own way. David Simcock's gelding won this race last year and has been keeping good company. Indeed, he certainly wasn't disgraced when finishing mid-division in the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Earlier on the same card, Twin Sails can turn the tables on Palawan in the Listed Washington Singer Stakes (2.0).

The pair were fourth and third respectively in a Group Two at Glorious Goodwood recently but the pace was muddled and Twin Sails would have performed better had he got into a proper stride.

Expected to go off around bottle (2/1), he's a confident selection this afternoon with Palawan chalked up at the slightly shorter price of 15/8.

Regular readers will know that it's rare I back an unraced horse but I'm going to take a chance today on Charlie Hills' Jadaayil in the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Newbury (1.25), priced in the region of 9/2.

A daughter of Oasis Dream, her work is said to be outstanding at home and Hills already has an eye on some Group races later on this season despite the fact that she's not yet set foot on a racecourse.

At 8/11, I won't bother having a bet but I'm very interested in seeing how well Langlauf performs in the Betfred TV EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Doncaster (3.15).

The Raven's Pass filly was fourth on her debut and progressed to come second in a Newmarket maiden a couple of weeks ago. Definitely one for the notebook.


Having won a maiden recently with any amount in hand, Clive Cox's Ice Lord makes his handicap debut at Newmarket (2.50) and his initial mark of 87 leaves him with plenty of room for improvement.

Related to some very smart winners, I know the yard think very highly of this colt and the 8/1 in the early markets looks a great each-way price.

Today's selections

1.25 Newbury: Jadaayil

2.0 Newbury: Twin Sails

2.35 Newbury: Romsdal

2.50 Newmarket: Ice Lord (e/w)

3.30 Ripon: Eccleston

3.45 Newbury: Here Comes When

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