Friday, 3 February 2023

Friday 3rd & Saturday 4th February 2023: El to be Fabiolo in Irish Arkle

While Friday is all about the Flat, including some intriguing contests in the Middle East, Saturday is about quality jumps action and we have info for both.

Friday 3rd February 2023

11.45 Bahrain (Anchorman Cup Handicap) – KING OF CONQUEST

Charlie Appleby doesn’t get too many trips wrong. He’s involved in this handicap, worth £36,000 to the winner, with his King Of Conquest who to my mind is the best handicapped horse in the race.

Only a four-year-old, the very well bred Lope De Vega-Teofilo cross has only had since runs, winning well last time out. Richard Mullen takes the ride.

12.45 Bahrain (Al Khalifa Cup – Listed Race) – WARREN POINT

A good Listed race over 1¼ miles, the first prize being worth well over £70,000.

Many have shown a very similar level of form recently, while if Port Lions is anything like the same horse as before he’d have a chance.

More likely is The Covex Kid who is doing well, but on known evidence the Appleby runner Warren Point could be too strong for them.

He has great handicap form from last season, was terrific in a Kempton Listed race in the autumn and he’s still on the up.

2.35 Meydan (Vazirabad Handicap) – FIRST RULER

A decent mile-and-a-half handicap on the turf, one in which Al Nayyir is of some interest, as is Global Heat who may or may not now prefer a little further.

Charlie Appleby’s pair of Dhahabi (William Buick) and First Ruler (James Doyle) went up against each other on their seasonal bow, both running on very nicely late in the race.

They are well prepped now and it comes down to those two in my eyes, the choice of Buick perhaps pushing many to go the way of Dhahabi. It is close though, and I rather like the chances of First Ruler instead.

Adjusted for today’s handicap marks, First Ruler was probably only around 4lbs behind Dhahabi last June when running only his second ever race while his team mate had run five.

By September, I get First Ruler a couple of pounds ahead of Dhahabi after his 5th run (Dhahabi’s 7th), so given he has a year on the topweight his rate of improvement could see him home.

2.50 Lingfield (Handicap) – UNFORGOTTEN

There is an interesting contender in this one-mile handicap. Godolphin have persevered with their gelding Unforgotten, who is exactly that.

The Gosden runner had had only three starts spanning December 2020 to April 2021, not being seen since then some 22 months ago. There’s a betting risk in that, but we can compare him to a couple of likely market rivals.

Firstly Brains. He has had 33 all-weather runs and is in good form, but he’s seven now and he’s rated 12lbs higher than two runs ago. Another contender is Starshiba who has run 33 times in total, is in decent form, but is handicapped about right.

Consider then that Unforgotten has been entered in the Lincoln (this is a Class 4), he was a close second to Mohaafeth (rated 112) on his second start and was a very easy winner when last seen at Newcastle when making his own pace.

He beat an 84 horse very easily that day, a run worth 90+ for definite, and he gets in here off 86 under Rab Havlin.

3.45 Meydan (Cape Verdi – Group 2) – WITH THE MOONLIGHT

This is a decent bunch of Group 2 fillies and mares, the field unsurprisingly dominated by Godolphin who’ve won this six years in a row.

The three-year-olds tend to avoid this race and have done again but the four, five and six year olds are strong and it should be an informative race.

Soft Whisper and White Moonlight both represent Saeed bin Suroor and both are solid, as is juvenile Group 1 winner Wild Beauty whose jockey James Doyle has won this race for the last three years running.

Trainer Charlie Appleby may win a fourth Cape Verdi on the trot, but most likely with former Oaks hope With The Moonlight.

The four-year-old was excellent in the States last year and she should be great over this one-mile trip. Her general form level is some way above the others.

4.55 Meydan (Singspiel Stakes – Group 2) – OTTOMAN FLEET

Valiant Prince w15as ever so impressive at York last summer and returned to action here last time with another win. He’s very close to top class, but his 4lb penalty in a hot field could be the killer.

Not surprisingly, William Buick has chosen the equally talented Ottoman Fleet who perhaps wasn’t ready last time and failed when expected to beat Valiant Prince. He has no excuse this time and has rock-solid form.

Saturday 4th February 2023

1.20 Leopardstown (Novice Hurdle – Grade 1) – WEVEALLBEENCAUGHT

This is a good way to begin the Dublin Racing Festival, a meeting which will offer us the best Cheltenham Festival clues of all.

A lot has been made of the fact that few British-trained runners take part here, but Nigel Twiston-Davies has a cracking chance here with his recent Cheltenham maiden winner Weveallbeencaught.

American Mike is dangerous, as is Grangeclare West at a bigger price.

2.26 Lingfield (Kachy Stakes – Listed Race) – ANNAF

The Kachy has brought together a decent Listed field; Diligent Harry, Summerghand and Vadream to name three all being very capable at this level.

King Of Bavaria is a useful recruit for Mick Appleby, but the standout for me is his Annaf who could be creeping towards Group 2 level.

The four-year-old is on a hat-trick now and, even is pressured, should reach a new level today above his current official mark of 108. Rossa Ryan rides.

2.30 Leopardstown (Irish Arkle – Grade 1) – EL FABIOLO 

It’s been well noted that Willie Mullins has lots of Arkle options for Cheltenham and he’s running four of them here to find out the pecking order.

The Paul Townend-ridden Appreciate It is remembered as the 2021 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, but potentially better over fences is the once-raced Dysart Dynamo.

Another debut winner and a somehow more impressive one is El Fabiolo and it’s Daryl Jacob’s mount I reckon will prove to be the best of this bunch.

3.01 Lingfield (Tandridge Stakes – Listed Race) – MANAAFITH

In this Listed event over a mile, Tempus and Sir Busker are rock-solid and highly rated and it would be no surprise if either were to win.

The thing with the filly Manaafith however is that she is just four, is very well bred and is improving quickly.

She’s rated only 95 but in truth her last run was more like 100, which she will no doubt improve on, while she also gets a 5lb allowance putting her right at the level she needs to be.

Roger Varian trains and Jim Crowley rides for his Shadwell retainer.

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