A 1m 6fur handicap for four-year-olds and upwards rated between 0-85. A mixture of fairly unexposed four-year-olds taking on more experienced older horses.
Prize money of £9,750 for this staying prize on the Tapeta All Weather track at this busy West Midlands venue. We know what we’re getting with most of the older horses, some of whom are specialist on this artificial surface. The younger horses are mostly stepping up in distance and this raises the prospect of potential improvement on form shown to date.
Favourite White Desert
Charlie Appleby’s charge has joint top-weight for his first try beyond a mile-and-a-half. The Godolphin-owned gelding has shown ability in four career starts to date, wears cheekpieces for the first time, and has the excellent James Boyle doing the steering.
Smiley Bagel, the mount of in-form Richard Kingscote (pictured), has won two of his last five starts and placed the other three times, Moayadd won four of his last five starts when last seen, and Kazawi remains a maiden but may improve for the longer trip as his stable shows signs of a revival.
White Desert is the least exposed horse in the field and this gelded son of Teofilo may well have more to give. He won over 1m2f in a Newbury maiden on debut last year before proving slightly disappointing on his next start off a handicap mark of 77. Something must have gone amiss as he wasn’t seen for eight months, returning to chase home a long odds-on shot hard here over 1m4f in April.
A beaten favourite at Newmarket earlier this month when only one paced in the closing stages of a fair handicap, he has the cheekpieces on for the first time to help him concentrate and will be popular trying this extra quarter mile for the first time.
Roger Charlton’s KAZAWI, another four-year-old, comes from a family that tend to get better as they mature. He is a full brother to his trainer’s high-class Group 1 Coral Eclipse and Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Al Kazeem, and while he’s most unlikely to scale the same heights as his sibling he has given me the impression there are races to be won with him.
Twice beaten in middle-distance maidens last term when favourite (once when odds-on), those disappointments both came on soft ground. This season he went close on his reappearance at Kempton on handicap debut on the Polytrack, then stayed on steadily over a mile-and-a-half back on turf at Chester last time in an apprentice handicap. With Keiren Shoemark back on board, stepping up in trip, and wearing first-time cheekpieces, I expect Kazawi to run a very big race as his yard finally shows signs of hitting form.
The admirable Smiley Bagel has won 6 of his last 13 starts on artificial surfaces and could be a danger despite a further 3lb rise in his rating. He should stay the longer trip and is respected, while any market move for Neil Mulholland’s Muayadd, who has been off the track for more than a year, would be very interesting. Prior to his absence he rocketed up the ratings winning four from five, improving 29lbs. He has an extra 8lb now for his return so will have to be on his ‘A’ game to make a winning comeback.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.