Alan Alger: My best bets for Saturday's big races at Lingfield
With two Betway-sponsored Listed contests taking place on the All-Weather, our man talks you through the ones to avoid and the horses worth backing.
It’s quite possible that ITV Racing have missed a trick on Saturday with what are, in my opinion, the two best races of the weekend taking place at Lingfield only available to watch on At The Races.
But the lack of terrestrial coverage doesn't detract from two Listed contests sponsored by Betway that both have claims to be heading the bill.
Here's how I see them panning out...
2.00 – Betway Cleves Stakes (Lingfield)
Twelve runners go to post with 95 wins under rules between them that, collectively, have seen them scoop nearly £3m in win and place prize money.
With the line-up boasting eight previous winners at Lingfield, including five over course and distance, it’s going to be tricky to unravel the form.
The first thing we can do to whittle down the contenders from the pretenders is to look at the past runnings of this race.
Horses from high draws have traditionally struggled, with only one winner drawn higher than stall eight in the last decade, while the last five winners were all situated in either stall two or stall five.
So a low draw is key but, as often happens in classier races at Lingfield, stall one can sometimes be a hindrance as horses vie for an early rails position.
Favourites, meanwhile, have a poor record in the race, with just two winners in the last ten, while horses older than eight have also tended to struggle.
The early favourite for this race, Kachy has a draw in stall 11 to overcome, but does have a 100 per cent record on the all-weather, winning his only race over course and distance just a fortnight ago.
He was in stall nine of nine runners that day, but Saturday looks a far more competitive race and I couldn’t recommend him.
Last year’s winner Lancelot Du Lac has a few more miles on the clock, but can’t be argued with as an each-way proposition from stall three.
Mythmaker is another who has form over course and distance and fits the right age profile with a decent draw.
But the one I really like is KIMBERELLA from Richard Fahey's stable, who has a solid, if not spectacular, strike rate of 12 per cent at the Surrey track.
His gelding won there twice last year over both five and six furlongs and, perhaps more importantly for such a quirky track, jockey Paul Hanagan boasts an impressive 18 per cent record over the last five years at ‘Leafy’.
Anything over 13/2 looks a very good bet for the eight-year-old to complete a Lingfield hat-trick from a favourable berth in stall five.
3.05 – Betway Winter Derby Trial (Lingfield)
Victory Bond is a very opposable favourite in this trial for the prestigious Betway Winter Derby on 24 February.
Despite the assistance of top jockey Ryan Moore, the five-year-old has to overcome a wide draw in what looks a competitive heat.
The 1m 2f course at Lingfield has horses turning left almost immediately and then hardly straightening out until they come back to home.
He failed to do it from stall two back in November in the Betway Churchill Stakes over course and distance and, with Saturday sure to be even tougher, his short price makes him one to avoid.
Petite Jack won the Betway Quebec Stakes here just before Christmas, but probably won’t be afforded the luck in running he had that day – even under Lingfield specialist Luke Morris.
A few that were behind him that day re-oppose, including Intern and Mia Tesoro .
I like another horse from that race, though.
John Gosden’s UTMOST is definitely open to improvement having been lightly-campaigned so far.
It’s not a giant leap of faith to say he can make up the extra three parts of a length to overcome Petite Jack and the rest of the opposition.
He has a great draw in five and is in the right age bracket as previous winners of the race.
Gosden has a better than one in four strike rate with his older horses on the all-weather, suggesting he doesn’t make these kind of entries lightly, while jockey Robert Havlin has ridden 61 winners at the track in his career.