By Tony Calvin
I remember mentioning to a friend what a joke price John Gosden’s once-raced handicap debutant Royal Line was when I was at Haydock last month. I thought he was badly handicapped and duly laid £200 of the horse at even money. I also took him on in the place market, too.
He replied something along the lines of “I wouldn’t have done that if I were you” and proceeded to text me the stats about Gosden’s record with three-year-old once-raced maiden winners in handicaps since 2016 and it read 211112131.
Needless to say, I didn’t reverse my position, and Royal Line won by 2¼ lengths. In fact, I did a bit more digging and since September 2015 Gosden’s record actually reads 122111121311. A proper wow stat.
So Garrick has to be of interest in the 1m2f handicap in Windsor’s 2.30pm, for all his Newcastle maiden win came in February and he has presumably had his problems since.
A mark of 85 looks pretty harsh to me on the bare form, though he has the breeding – he is by Galileo out of a Fred Darling winner – to dismiss that assessment, stepping up in trip, and he has already been backed from 9-2 to 3-1. And then we have those stats, too...
Wherever you back the filly though, try and do so in a place where you get Best Odds Guaranteed as she is currently trading at 16-1 plus win-only on the exchanges and she may drift.
She looks rock-solid, though. She has been a model of consistency since joining Clive Cox last September, and hasn’t been beaten more than two lengths in any of her five starts for her new handler.
And she hasn’t suffered unduly in the handicap for that consistency, having been raised only 5lb for those string of decent efforts.
This race is obviously a lot more competitive but I think this more strongly-run, bigger-field contest over 1m2f will suit her better, and she recorded a decent time figure when second here last time.
Sandy Shores is another boringly-staid tip in the 3.30pm, but the price of 15-2 lured me in.
Her chance is straightforward enough. She was very impressive when winning over course and distance in August – though the runner-up disappointed next time – and she improved again when a close second to a progressive horse off a 5lb higher mark at Lingfield this month. This looks quite a hot little handicap, but I think she holds better claims than her price suggests.
I was going to take a chance on Lat Hawill at a general 33-1 in the 2.50pm at Musselburgh – the visor is back on him and I may have a small saver on him if he is a bigger price on Betfair near the off – but Heaven’s Guest could take a fair bit of beating.
This race has a fair bit of depth, as you would expect for a £20,000 0-100 handicap, but a midsummer breathing operation looks to be bearing fruit for the selection now.
He has won handicaps off 105 in the past and is now down to 89, and his past two runs suggest he is now ready to exploit that falling mark. He finished an excellent third off a 1lb higher mark than this in a £50,000 handicap at Ascot just two starts ago, and found the mile just stretching his stamina at the same course last time.
All of his best efforts have come over this 7f trip and, with the bonus of being dropped 1lb for that run in a Classified Stakes and with Adam McNamara taking another 3lb off, he is surely weighted to take a big hand here on his first start at the course.
I’ll be disappointed if he is out of the first three, so I am happy to back him each-way at the general 7-1.
Forever A Lady is also worth a bet at 5-1 in the 4.55pm. It was annoying to see the 7-1 evaporate overnight but 5s is still fair. I think she should be favourite.
She comes here after a good third off this mark over a mile here last time, and the first two home have won since.
Her record also suggests that she is better over this shorter trip, as all of her best efforts have come over 6f and 7f.
She is only 2lb higher than when winning over 7f at Carlisle in May and, for all she is winless in 11 starts since, this looks a good opportunity for her after that excellent run last time which is working out so well.
I will mention John Mackie is two from four when using first-time cheekpieces since 2016, so Art Echo is feared on that basis alone.
At Yarmouth, the horse that most interested me was Gembari at 14-1 in the nursery at 2.40pm.
Silvestre De Sousa has a 33 per cent strike rate when riding for the stable this year, and the horse doesn’t look badly handicapped on his debut run here, and first-time cheekpieces is an interesting element (though it is a ploy the trainer often uses, so it isn’t anything of real note).
But there is too much guess work involved for me to put him up as a bet.
Tony Calvin’s top tips for Monday:
2.30 Windsor: Lime And Lemon each-way at 12-1 (1/5 the odds, four places, with Sky Bet)
2.50 Musselburgh: Heaven’s Guest each-way at a general 7-1
4.55 Musselburgh: Forever A Lady at a general 5-1