Updated 9.13, 9.44, 9.59 - all selections online.
The extended 7f handicap at Chester (2.55) on Saturday features a rematch between the first four home in a handicap run over the same course and distance earlier this month, and GABRIAL THE SAINT might come on top this time.
Track position seemed to be important that day, and Gabrial The Saint was the only one of that quartet who didn’t race against the inside rail, and in the circumstances he did well to be in the mix at the finish, beaten only a length and a quarter.
He is able to race off the same mark here, and is relatively unexposed at this sort of trip. Indeed, he shaped as if he’d be well suited by further when surging clear to win a 6f handicap here last year.
He’s drawn wider than ideal in stall 8, but his trackcraft should stand him in good stead and providing he isn’t forced too wide I’d anticipate another big run.
GUANDI shaped like a potential big improver when 5th in a hot Newbury maiden on his debut, and he might be able to progress enough on better ground to win the opener at Chester today (1.45).
He travelled smoothly at Newbury in the early stages but was unable to pick up on the ground in the closing stages, perhaps also not on the best part of the track.
He was beaten a fair way in fifth, but the form has worked out very well – the winner and third have both been Listed-placed subsequently, and the runner-up has run big races in two competitive 3yo handicaps.
He’s drawn wide, but he was quickly into his stride at Newbury for a debutant and I’d expect him to be ridden positively in the early stages. His pedigree suggests he’ll be well suited by the better ground he’ll encounter here and he could leave that debut effort well behind.
BARRISTAN THE BOLD doesn’t really have the unexposed profile you’d associate with the winner of such a competitive 3yo handicap as the Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock (2.50) but he makes a fair bit of each-way appeal after a very encouraging reappearance run at Chester.
He was drawn high and raced wide at Chester, and in the circumstances he ran an excellent race to finish third, shaping comfortably like the best horse at the weights to my mind given his track position.
I wouldn’t be too concerned that stable jockey Richard Kingscote is on Aweedram, who has an obvious chance, instead – Kingscote was jocked up on Barristan The Bold but the weights didn’t rise and he hasn’t done 8-06 for around three years (indeed, he only rode at 8-08, the weight Aweedram is set to carry, five times last year.
He’s drawn wide again and on different ground, but he left the impression he was an improved performer on that seasonal debut and if he’s in the same form he’s entitled to be thereabouts, so he looks worth backing each-way with all 17 runners standing their ground at the time of writing.
Hugh's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
1pt win GUANDI (7-2 general)
1pt each-way BARRISTAN THE BOLD (20-1 Betfair Sportsbook, bet365, Coral, Paddy Power)
1pt win GABRIAL THE SAINT (7-1 William Hill, 13-2 Betfair Sportsbook, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, 6-1 bet365, Coral)
Hugh gives a daily indication of when the column will be published via Twitter.com (username is HughRacing). You can also listen to a Final Furlong Podcast special in which Hugh explains the methodology behind the column here.
Hugh recorded a profit of +345pts in 2018, and a ROI of 1.55, his highest ever. With regards to Betfair SP, Hugh recorded a profit of +66pts (ROI of 1.11) before commission. You can view his monthly figures by clicking the links below:
2018 results ROI 1.55 +345pts
2017 results ROI 1.46 +282pts
2016 results ROI 1.44 +281pts
2015 results ROI 1.34 +207pts
2014 results ROI 1.32 +199.79pts
2013 results ROI 1.32 +210pts
2012 results ROI 1.31 +222.65pts
2011 results ROI 1.28 +302.64 pts
2010 results ROI 1.23 +324.79 pts
2009 results ROI 1.26 +500.36 pts