Tagula looks primed to hit his winter peak
We can only be grateful for small mercies. With the weekend wipeout of jumps racing assured for many days, the all-weather code was always going to ride to the rescue. We can't therefore complain about a shortage of time to dig out some winners.
At least the weathermen were on the mark this week after their long-term prediction for a mild winter went well astray. Personally, I'm still waiting to set the coals alight after their 'barbecue summer' forecast this time last year. To which you'll doubtless retort that you're still waiting for me to tip you a decent winner.
Having to think 'sand racing' this week has filled occupants of Muscat Lodge (formerly Towers -- the bookies have seized the turrets) with a sense of foreboding.
The joke at yours truly's expense is that we now have a dozen dogs where there was recently only one. The other 11 are horses I've tipped that have subsequently required rehousing.
Still, gallows humour has its place. And today's change of code could herald a change of fortune -- starting with Imprimis Tagula in Lingfield's feature race, the Betdaq Super 7 Handicap (2.10).
Imprimis Tagula is most unusual for a thoroughbred in that he flourishes in winter. No less than seven of his 10 career victories to date have been posted between the months of November and February.
The six-year-old should be radiating rude health in the Arctic blast.
His recent form is also first rate -- his cosy defeat of Ebraam in December was gained over six furlongs, a distance over which Ebraam excels. The selection, by contrast, is almost certainly better over today's seven-furlong trip and should confirm the form.
If confidence in Imprimis Tagula is dented by the ultra-competitive nature of the contest, the same cannot be said about Wanchai Whisper in the concluding Betdaq Handicap (3.40).
This one was extremely comfortable in seeing off Athwaab, Kings Of Leo and Blue Neptune -- all of which reoppose here -- over this trip at Kempton recently. From a stable in form, she looks sufficiently on the upgrade to defy a 9lbs hike in the handicap.
From a similar mould is Lord Fidelio, which won with more in hand than the official verdict when breaking his duck last month. The four-year-old, always well thought of at the Andrew Balding stable, can underline the point in the seven-furlong Betdaq Handicap (3.10).
Also on the card, Brave Enough showed enough over a shorter journey last time to be worth support in the Bet Multiples Maiden (1.05). This step-up in trip looks sure to see this lightly raced three-year-old take another step forward.
Unlike the action at Lingfield, Kempton's card is a poorly funded, late addition to a Saturday programme that makes up Channel 4 Racing's double-header for advocates of the tote's popular Scoop6 bet.
One trainer delighted with the extra opportunity will be Kevin Ryan, whose Tiddliwinks cannot be opposed with his 6lb penalty in the Greyhound Racing Handicap (2.55). That's because Ryan saddled the four-year-old to win a similar race over the course and distance just six days ago. A repeat looks firmly on the cards. At the same venue, Support Fund catches the eye in the William Hill Handicap (2.25), in which none of the six runners have registered in their last 39 collective starts.
However, Support Fund, a winner five times to date, has run well on each of three previous visits to Kempton. That's an encouraging detail within a poor race. I'm also taking a chance on Jan Mayen in the opening Maiden (12.55) over 10 furlongs. Mark Johnston wouldn't be wasting his time with an unraced four-year-old filly unless he expected good things.
Further encouragement is lent by the fact that Jan Mayen is Johnston's only runner at Kempton, and Tom Queally is booked.