Monday 11 December 2017

Plum draw can give Prince edge

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

This afternoon's three-year-old sprint handicap at York is an absolutely cracking event, with an array of smart types laying their reputations on the line.

Few of the 20 runners have as much potential as Desert Law. The subject of a considerable gamble on his seasonal debut at Newmarket a fortnight ago, Andrew Balding's Oasis Dream colt failed by just a neck to land the money.

As Desert Law had already shown when striding clear to win his maiden at the end of last season, that confirmed him to be immensely likeable and he should feature again now with the benefit of the run. At 6/1, he is a solid each-way option at the very least.

Majestic Myles, which beat Desert Law last time, re-opposes here off just a pound worse terms. However, he has now had four runs in handicaps, so may not have quite the same scope for progression off a seven-pound higher rating.

The unbeaten Seal Rock is another that has serious claims, but quietly fancied to collect at odds of 8/1 is Elusive Prince. Placed in each of his three starts last year, the David Barron-trained gelding has been a revelation in two outings this term.

He scorched home in a maiden over today's six-furlong trip at Ripon in early May, before then doing exactly the same back there on his handicap debut off a mark of 78 on June 1. On both occasions, despite winning by an aggregate seven lengths, Elusive Prince ran around, giving the impression that he is far from the finished article.

With that in mind, he should continue to improve, so an eight-pound hike might not stop him now from his plum draw in stall one. Obviously, this is a considerable step up in class, but that is reflected in Elusive Prince's featherweight of 8st 2lb.

Maybe most significantly, he is the type of horse that sprint specialist Barron does especially well with, and the Yorkshire handler has been in excellent form recently. With able lightweight rider Kelly Harrison up, Elusive Prince ought to go close.

Irish interest on the Knavesmire card comes in the opening lady riders' handicap with Katie Walsh booked to take the leg-up on Bowdler's Magic for Mark Johnston and this combinationa look to have a decent chance to land the spoils.

Bowdler's Magic has plenty of weight but is generally very consistent and the form of his fourth-placed effort at Chester in May has stood up well. The only two horses --both of which finished behind Bowdler's Magic -- that have run since have won and been second, so Walsh's partner appeals now that he drops in grade.

Later on, Richard Hannon's progressive My Son Max is the pick at the weights in the classified stakes over seven furlongs. Despite being the highest rated horse in the field, Ryan Moore's mount is up to 12lbs well in with a couple of his rivals.

That may be enough to get My Son Max home, but he has done little to suggest that he has much in hand off his official mark of 80. Preference is for Bertiewhittle, which recorded a bloodless triumph at Musselburgh last week when he slammed Goal by the guts of four lengths.

David Barron's charge scored off a rating of 72 then, and has been raised to 79 as a result. If, as is suspected, Bertiewhittle is deserving of a higher mark still, then the mount of Graham Gibbons is the one that comes out best by some way.

At Sandown, Monopolize gets the nod to build on a hugely encouraging reappearance at the Esher track in May. Henry Cecil's son of Oasis Dream caught the eye on just the second start of his career when keeping on for third behind Tanfeeth in a fair maiden on that occasion.

When asked to pick up, Monopolize ran around before answering the call so, despite stiff opposition, Ian Mongan's mount will be more battle-hardened when it comes to the crunch in the 10-furlong maiden.

Best Bet: Bertiewhittle

Irish Independent

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