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Thursday, 27 September 2018

3.40 Newmarket, Saturday, September 29

In terms of competition, horse races don’t come much ‘deeper’ than the first leg of the traditional “Autumn Double”, the Cambridgeshire Handicap (3.40) at Newmarket on Saturday. The race, which has a safety limit of 35, typically features a perplexing mixture of dyed-in-the-wool handicappers and progressive, unexposed three-year-olds, not to mention the odd out-and-out ‘plot’ horse, so winners at 50/1, 40/1, 25/1, 16/1 and 14/1 (three times) in the last ten years come as no great surprise.

One that we hope can follow in their footsteps, though, is Stuart Williams’ four-year-old Via Serendipity, who has been a model of consistency this season and fully deserves to win a valuable prize. That said, the Invincible Spirit gelding has failed to trouble the judge just once – and, on that occasion, finished fifth of 27, beaten just 1¼ lengths, in the Victoria Cup at Ascot – in six starts this season, winning at Sandown in June and at Ascot last month.

Both wins came over a mile but, while he has yet to run over further, Via Serendipity shapes as though an extra furlong is well within his compass and may, indeed, bring about further improvement. A 3lb rise in the weights for winning the Shergar Cup Mile at Ascot last time looks entirely fair and, with winning form on good to firm and good going, he should have underfoot conditions to his liking on the Rowley Mile. Gerald Mosse, who has an 8-44 (18%) strike rate on the course, for a massive 100.25 points level stakes profit, is an interesting jockey booking.

At 25/1 in the ante post price lists, Via Serendipity looks worth a speculative wager and, with leading bookmakers likely to bet on five, six or seven places on the day, even makes some appeal for a little each-way ‘tickle’.

Selection: Newmarket 3.40 Via Serendipity to win   2-1

Sunday, 23 September 2018

3.20 Beverley, Tuesday, September 25

In the Colin McGurran @ Beverley Racecourse Handicap (3.20) at the East Yorkshire course on Monday, Twin Appeal can race off his lowest handicap mark since winning a similar 0-75 contest at Newcastle four years ago and may be capable of ending a losing run that stretches back to Wolverhampton last December. The Oratorio gelding joined Karen Tutty from David Barron in August and, after two creditable efforts in defeat in 0-80 contests at Thirsk and York, respectively, could be ready to open his account for his new yard.

He has yet to win on going officially described as softer than ‘good to soft’, but has run well enough, in limited attempts, on ‘soft’ and ‘heavy’ going to suggest that he’s not unduly inconvenienced by testing underfoot conditions. His latest win, of any description, came in a 0-85 handicap, over 7 furlongs, on the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton, off a handicap mark of 83, last December and his latest win on grass came in a 0-95 handicap, again over 7 furlongs, at Musselburgh, off a handicap mark of 89, the previous April. Either piece of form makes his current handicap mark of 74 look extraordinarily lenient, if he retains at least a fraction of his ability, and fitness-wise, he should be spot on after two recent ‘sighters’ for new connections. Gemma Tutty, who’s ridden him on both occasions, takes off a useful 3lb, which only adds to his appeal in a moderate contest.

Selection: Beverley 3.20 Twin Appeal to win 16/1

Monday, 10 September 2018

4.15 Carlisle Tip, Wednesday, September

The Andersons “Quality for Your Home” Handicap (4.15), over 5 furlongs 193 yards, at Carlisle on Wednesday features 17 runners and looks just the race for a midweek tilt at the ring.

Conversant has raced just three times on soft going, on his racecourse debut last September, on his seasonal debut at Ripon in April and, most notably, when winning comfortably in this grade, off a 5lb lower mark, at Doncaster nine days later. Two non-descript runs on the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton and on good ground at Ayr in recent months have seen David O’Meara’s 3-year-old dropped 4lb from his career-high handicap mark of 73. He’s by smart juvenile sprinter Zebedee out of a Danehill Dancer mare and still has time on his side after just five starts for the North Yorkshire trainer, so it’ll be disappointing if we’ve seen the best of him already.

With underfoot conditions in his favour, he may well be capable of much better. Of course, he needs to be, after finishing only eighth of nine, beaten 15 lengths, in a similar race at Ayr last time, but the doubts about him should be reflected in his price and he can give us a decent run for our money at potentially lucrative odds. His draw, in stall 14 of 17, is ideal on soft going at Carlisle, where runners tend to tacks across to the stands’ side and stable jockey Daniel Tudhope has a fair, if unspectacular, 8-46 (17%) strike rate on 3-year-olds for the yard this season.

Selection: Carlisle 4.15 Conversant to win 16/1