Race of the day Monday 13 January – Who wins the day’s feature race at Wolverhampton?
Brian Healy takes a look at Monday's feature race at Wolverhampton and gives his runner-by-runner thoughts on thefield.
The race of the day on Monday comes from the evening racecard at Wolverhampton where there is a solid staying handicap contest which acts as a qualifier for All-Weather Champions Day, and despite only five runners going to post it looks a cracking contest on paper.
Getting underway at 5.50pm as the fourth race of the afternoon on a seven-race card, the two-mile contest carries a winners’ purse of almost £12,000 and Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner at the day’s feature race.
French raider Funny Kid (11/4, William Hill) has proven himself to be a smart sort in his native land, winning a Group Three at Longchamp and Listed race at Chantilly, as well as being thought good enough to contest in a Group One last term.
He cut little ice at that level in the Prix du Cadran,failing to beat a rival, but following a short break he almost mounted a successful raid on a decent Newcastle purse last month where he was beaten a half-length behind the reopposing Raymond Tusk.
The Lemon Drop Kid entire caught the eye travelling well into that contest, but he couldn’t quite match the finishing effort of the eventual winner where he eventually succumbed by a half-length with the front two pulling clear of third-placed Mildenberger.
While it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see another bold bid by the French raider, he meets his conqueror RAYMOND TUSK (5/4, William Hill) on the same terms as at Newcastle and there doesn’t appear to be any compelling reason to think Christophe Ferland’s charge can gain revenge.
Richard Hannon’s charge meanwhile had been contesting with credit in Group company last term, finding only Dee Ex Bee too strong on his return from a break in the Sagaro Stakes before losing no caste in defeat when landing a bronze medal behind Crystal Ocean on his next start where he was probably unsuited by the sharper trip.
The High Chaparral entire faced a tough ask behind Stradivarius in the Ascot Gold Cup, but he nevertheless turned in a very creditable seventh where he was only beaten around eight lengths having perhaps been stretched by the trip.
There wasn’t much wrong with his fourth in the Ebor Handicap, only beaten two lengths, and while he was never a factor in the Melbourne Cup he wasn’t seen to best effect in that contest having met trouble in running and unable to get a run.
He got back to winning ways latest on his all-weather debut at Newcastle, beating the reopposing French challenger Funny Kid by a half-length, but despite the relatively narrow margin he appeared to be well on top at the line and a replication of that effort might be good enough to see him add another win to his tally.
Rainbow Dreamer (4/1, William Hill) is a useful sort, and Alan King’s charge arrives here in search of a hat-trick of wins having struck recent wins at Kempton either side of the new year.
The Aqlaam gelding is also a dual-winner over hurdles and has been been placed in a Grade Two over timber behind Defi Du Seuil; and he showed his class as a stayer on the level when winning a competitive and valuable prize at Newbury before finishing a good fourth to Thomas Hobson in the 2017 Ascot Stakes.
He was absent for a while following that run, but he struck at Southwell last February after a couple of of hurdles starts, and he didn’t disgrace himself in starts on turf last campaign prior to registering his two most recent wins.
He latterly ran out a two lengths’ winner over Pianissimo earlier in January, and a 3lbs rise remains workable so he could have more to offer in this sphere where he is unbeaten on the all-weather. His hurdles rating certainly leaves him with scope for better, and he can make his presence felt although the suspicion is he’ll need to improve again.
Scarlet Dragon (11/2, William Hill) also represents the Barbury House trainer, but the Sir Percy gelding has been out of sorts on the flat and hasn’t won in this sphere since scoring at Newmarket back in October 2016 when taking the Old Rowley Cup that year when he was trained by Eve Johnson Houghton.
His efforts since have very much been a mixed back, but he has won twice over hurdles for King which includes a Listed win at Market Rasen last September in the Prelude Hurdle, and he shaped better than the bare result over an inadequate trip at Lingfield on his return to the all-weather in December behind Entangling.
The return to a longer trip will be in his favour, while he is below his last winning flat mark so he can give a good account although his overall strike-rate on the flat tempers enthusiasm somewhat and he’ll likely find one or two too good.
Completing the quintet for Monday’s all-weather feature is David Simcock’s Deal A Dollar (14/1, William Hill) who was useful for previous handler Sir Michael Stoute for whom he won twice, with his latest success coming at Newcastle last September.
He joined his current yard in the wake of beating only two home behind Hamish at York back in October, but he shaped well enough back from a short break at Chelmsford last month where he eventually finished third of the nine runners behind Pianissimo.
He wasn’t helped by a slow start on that occasion, but this is tougher still and the application of cheekpieces will need to have a positive effect if he’s to come out on top here although a line through Pianissimo leaves him with a bit to find with that rival let alone the others.
RAYMOND TUSK (5/4, William Hill) had French raider Funny Kid behind when scoring on his all-weather debut at Newcastle last month, and with the pair reopposing on the same terms Richard Hannon’s charge can uphold that form.
The High Chaparral horse has shown himself to be a high-class performer in Group company, and he was thought good enough to contest the Melbourne Cup back in November. A repeat of his latest success ought to be enough to see him win again, and with the potential for better still to come given he is thoroughly unexposed on the all-weather he rates the one to beat here.
Despite the narrow margin of victory last time, he appeared to do the job a shade readily and having contested with credit at a higher level throughout last term he ought to continue to prove to be a tough nut to crack in this easier grade.