Back Blessing for Ayr glory
Nick Grant previews the pick of Monday's action and provides a selection for every race taking place in the UK and Ireland.
David Barron, trainer of African Blessing
AYR: 2.00 Honourable, 2.30 Reinforced, 3.00 War Department, 3.30 AFRICAN BLESSING (NAP), 4.00 Catwilldo, 4.30 Robinnielly, 5.00 Intensified, 5.35 Gold Show.
BALLINROBE: 5.40 Bobarlee, 6.10 Wild Sam, 6.40 Persian Wind, 7.10 Walkabout, 7.40 Billy De Kid, 8.10 Supreme Vic, 8.40 Borboleta.
FFOS LAS: 5.30 Arzaak, 6.00 Sir Theodore, 6.30 Nonios, 7.00 Captain Peacock, 7.30 Zamindo, 8.00 Kummiya, 8.30 Funny Oyster.
WINDSOR: 5.50 Diamond Vine, 6.20 Curve Ball, 6.50 May Rose, 7.20 Permian, 7.50 Absolute Zero, 8.20 Carolinae.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.15 Golden Easter, 2.45 Eva Gore, 3.15 Oakley Pride, 3.45 Falcon's Song, 4.15 Ilzam, 4.45 Figurante, 5.15 Harmony Bay.
DOUBLE: African Blessing and War Department.
African Blessing is worth more than a second glance in the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Handicap at Ayr.
David Barron's gelding made a winning start at Southwell in March – an encouraging one at that – but was off after that before returning late last month at Newmarket.
Tardy at the gates, he was strong-willed thereafter and unsurprisingly had run his race by the time they got to the furlong marker, having to settle for fourth.
After such a break, that should have taken the keenness out of him and better can be expected this time. The handicapper thinks the same, too, by the looks of it.
War Department is capable of going close in the Racing UK HD On Sky432 Handicap on his second start for the Keith Dalgleish stable.
He looked like being promising as a two-year-old with William Haggas, really taking the eye on his debut at Leicester. It was the Coventry at Royal Ascot after that, where it all went wrong and he was more or less pulled up.
It has not been plain sailing since, either, but there was a hint the change of scenery might be about to work the oracle at Carlisle last month, where he would have been much closer than was ultimately the case but for getting stuck for room at a crucial point.
Dropped another couple of pounds, he looks set for a big run if in a similar mood. Joe Fanning takes the ride again, which is encouraging.
Ilzam is a different horse on the artificial tracks and can bag a third win at Wolverhampton in the fclgf.com Handicap.
The Marco Botti-trained three-year-old quickened up relatively smartly last month to win with a bit in hand and has in fact only been out of the first five once in nine tries on the all-weather.
He has only gone up 2lb and Harry Bentley maintains his partnership with the Holy Roman Emperor gelding.
Figurante is another fancied to go close in the FCL Global Forwarding Making Logistics Personal Fillies' Handicap.
Jamie Osborne's filly struck a couple of times earlier in the year on the all-weather and was far from disgraced when third at Goodwood in June, suggesting her mark of 71 is not beyond her.
Absolute Zero is the pick in the Skybet Handicap at Windsor.
Roger Varian's three-year-old is on an upward curve and on a hat-trick after wins at the Thamesside track and Ripon, with that last win coming just a week ago. There might be a bit more to come, even with the penalty.
At Ffos Las, Arzaak is expected to be a cut above in the Football Betting At 188Bet Median Auction Maiden Stakes.
The Casamento colt has been seen just once, when fourth in a pretty decent maiden at Leicester in May, when he looked highly likely to progress. It will be interesting to see where he ends up if this goes to plan.