1:30 Cavani.co.uk Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap 1m 7f 144y
Whizz Kid is fancied to go very close with the form of his recent runs working out well. He is only 2lb higher than when winning at Doncaster last time where he had an admittedly unlucky Mr Freedom back in third, and that gelding has run well twice since despite being badly positioned both at Cheltenham and Ascot.
Whizz Kid had Agaggio back in fifth when runner-up at Huntingdon prior to Doncaster, and has been a non-stayer when tried at around 2½m on other starts.
Since wind surgery prior to the start of the season, Whizz Kid has form figures in handicap hurdles at around two mile of 2321, showing improvement with each run, but somehow finds himself lower in the weights than he was at the start of the campaign. He can take advantage of that generosity by scooping this decent pot under regular rider Luke Scott.
2:40 Cavani.co.uk Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Handicap 3m 1f 125y
In for a penny, in for a pound, and the upturn in form of the Richard Newland yard is a sound reason for backing Enqarde, who was runner-up in this race from fully 10lb higher last season. There hasn’t been much to cheer about in four runs this season, but those all came at a time when the yard was struggling for winners.
Between August and January, Dr Newland’s record over jumps was a disappointing 9 wins from 150 runs, but that has turned around in the last month or so, with 11 wins from just 39 runners since the beginning of March.
It takes something on trust that Enqarde will bounce back on his second start after wind surgery (not his first, either), but he’s too well treated to ignore, and looks like he has been brought along with this specific race in mind.
3:15 Cavani.co.uk Challenger Stayers Hurdle Series Final Handicap 3m 58y
I’ve been sweet on The Changing Manfor a while, and despite finishing only eighth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham on his latest start, I thought he shaped much better than the result having been closer to the action than the winner.
He had form figures prior to that of 1111222, and remains unexposed as a stayer. He really should have won a Pertemps Qualifier over course and distance on his penultimate start, but Brendan Powell was understandably at pains not to commit too soon, and allowed the winner enough rope to build up a crucial advantage.
That was the latest in a series of improved efforts in handicaps, and he can do better yet. His dam was a smashing mare who made the frame in the Mares’ Hurdle here as a novice before taking a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse, and she’s passed on plenty of her ability to this gelding, who will prove graded class in time.
2:25 Tote.co.uk Bet£5get£20 Musselburgh Silver Arrow Handicap 7f 33y
It may pay to take a chance on the well-treated Gioia Cieca, who was sent off a 4/1 shot in this race last year only to flop. He failed to get back to form thereafter, but did show more “in rear, late headway, never on terms” at Hamilton in August, after which he was gelded and had wind surgery.
Either of those operations could be responsible for a return to form with the benefit of a longish break into the bargain, and although it’s possible that no kind of procedure is capable of restoring his lust for life, the 33/1 around on Friday is too big to ignore.
I can see him becoming a gamble here for Keith Dalgleish, and while faster ground would have been ideal, he’s worth a swing.
3:00 Tote World Pool Scottish Sprint Cup Handicap 5f 1y
There are more questions than answers at first glance for this sprint, with the market leaders needing to bounce back to form to justify short odds, and I’m far from confident in that regard. In what might not be a race for maximum stakes, I’d fancy The Bell Conductor to outrun likely odds.
Paul Midgley’s turf runners in 2023 have largely looked in need of a run (or several), but The Bell Conductor has been given four all-weather runs already this year, and has already reached peak fitness. The question is whether he can prove as effective on turf as he is on tapeta, and for that reason I won’t go overboard, but he’s got bundles of early pace and can avoid the inevitable scrimmaging that tends to occur over the minimum trip at Musselburgh, which should enhance his chances.
The Bell Conductor hasn’t raced on turf since joining Paul Midgley in late-2021, but he was a winner on easy ground at Beverley when showing similar all-weather form for Philip Makin, and there must be a good chance that he has simply improved markedly regardless of surface, for all he’s been withdrawn due to unsuitably firm ground in the past.
3:35 Tote Summer World Pool Queen’s Cup 1m 5f 216y
The unexposed and interesting runner here is Keith Dalgleish’s Good Show, who only made his racecourse bow last August, but was immediately upped to Group 3 company to contest the Cumberland Lodge Stakes won by Hamish, and was far from disgraced despite finishing last.
He really should have won on his final start at Nottingham when it took Jim Crowley far too long to extricate him from a pocket, and he flew home on testing ground to go down in a tight finish.
He had a couple of subsequent winners behind him at Nottingham, including the very useful Coquelicot, and a line through suggests his opening mark is very fair. With improvement to come, this well-bred sort is one to follow.
Whizz Kid 1:30 Haydock – 1pt e/w @ 11/1 (Bet365, Hills – 4 places)
Enqarde 2:40 Haydock – 1pt win @ 17/2 (Hills – 15/2 general)
The Changing Man 3:15 Haydock – 1pt e/w @ 10/1 (Bet365, 9/1 general – 5 places)
Gioia Cieca 2:25 Musselburgh – 1pt e/w @ 33/1 (general – 4 places)
The Bell Conductor 3:00 Musselburgh – 1pt e/w @ 12/1 (Hills – 4 places)
Good Show 3:35 Musselburgh – 2pts win @ 6/1 (general