By Tony Calvin
This will probably get me into trouble but I am always disappointed when Ryan Moore is jocked up on a horse I fancy away from the big meetings because it invariably shaves a point or so off the price.
That is the situation with Aleef in the 3.15pm at Epsom on Monday. David O’Meara has put his winner-less woes behind him with 16 successes this month, and his four-year-old is very interesting on his belated reappearance in the 5f handicap. He won first time out last season, and did nothing but improve for the rest of the campaign after being fitted with a hood, bar a couple of shockers admittedly.
On the face it, he has no chance on the evidence of his first start for Tony Coyle over 6f at Carlisle earlier in the month, when he set the pace but dropped away tamely from two out.
But he showed a much better level of form when trained in France, and is interesting that he is tried in a hood and tongue-tie off a 3lb lower mark here (he was dropped 4lb for Carlisle, but is 1lb out of the handicap here).
Now, it could be that he wore these in his two sprint wins in France – they are not necessarily recorded in the formbook over there – but what makes him especially interesting is that he represents owner Stephen Louch.
And Louch happens to own Caspian Prince, after whom this race is named. Hopefully I have latched onto a plot, and I think the drop to 5f will suit him as he likes to go forward and has plenty of early dash. At 33-1, I am happy to pay to find out.
The arguments for the remaining three tips will be short, sharp and concise as I have used up much of my word count there. So, without further ado, step forward Kings Academy in the 2.40pm at a general 7-1.
With four last-time-out winners in this eight-runner 6f handicap, it’s competitive but Kings Academy was having his first start since being gelded when winning over 5f at Leicester last time.
He has gone up 4lb for that. but it’s fair and he is still rated 5lb higher on the all-weather and his best form in that sphere has been over this 6f trip.
He ran far better than it appeared at Newmarket last time as he made his move on the unfavoured middle part of the track and the handicapper may have over-reacted by dropping him 3lb.
That is 2lb lower than when he got mugged on the line at Newbury in April, and he was a 10-length winner over course and distance last season. He is a smooth traveller when on song.
Owen Burrows is on fire at the moment, but hopefully his Tanasoq has to play second fiddle to Mamillius in Chepstow’s 2.50pm.
You have to forgive him a poor run at Ascot last time, and he hasn’t even been dropped for it, but maybe he just didn’t stay on his first attempt at a mile there.
I think the drop back down to 6f will suit him, and his earlier 7f Leicester win reads very well, as the four horses who followed him home have all won since.
The first-time cheekpieces is another interesting angle; just six days ago, Manton Grange won at 16-1 for the stable at Kempton when initially tried in this headgear. He is worth a bet at the 12-1 with bet365.
Tony Calvin’s bets for Monday