Rafiot to justify favouritism at Lingfield

The countdown for the Cheltenham Festival is on but, as the old adage states, ‘all good things come to those who wait’. So, let us relax and digest an intriguing eight race card from Lingfield Park’s artificial kingdom.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 4:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 4:45 pm
Gary Moore

Gary Moore’s record at the track is rather underwhelming, with an 11% strike rate nothing to write home about, but, enter stage left Rhys Clutterbuck. The apprentice jockey, who turns just nineteen this year, has boosted this number to a more manageable 23.1% and will be looking to improve this number further when getting on board RAFIOT in our opener.

The ‘#betyouway At Betway Handicap’ (12:30) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality, but that could pave the way for Moore’s five-year-old to record successive victories after staying on nicely to win over this course and distance last month.

Moore’s recruit was settled in midfield and came off the bridle relatively early, but the turn of foot produced over the final furlong showed that the gelding probably won it with a bit in hand. That form is already working out nicely with the third being a dual subsequent winner and, given that Rhys Clutterbuck claims 7lb today instead of the 3lb from that previous triumph, he should be poised for a further good performance.

Selection - RAFIOT 11/4

Indeed, you can make a rock solid case for Charlie Appleby’s Symbolic Power after three respectable efforts and, considering Tom Marquand holds an impeccable record when riding for the Newmarket based trainer (43% strike rate), he’s bound to be a punter’s favourite on the day.

But - and this is a big but - he’s had a relatively lengthy absence of ninety-two days. Now if this colt can fulfill his potential then it will be no surprise to see him breeze past his four rivals, however at 6/5 I won’t be paying to find out.

Instead, It seems wise to find one that could fill the frame at a backable price and it appears this could appear in Amy Murphy’s BOOK OF SECRETS. Hollie Doyle has set the racing world alight and has certainly grown a liking to this three-year-old - winning over this course and distance on his penultimate start.

On that day, he sat just off the pace before quickening nicely inside the final two furlongs leaving subsequent winner Coupe De Champagne in his wake. Most recently, his performance a fortnight ago at Wolverhampton was very encouraging off 6lb higher, looking the likely winner (going 1.28 in-play) before eventually being outstayed.

I need some tempting to unload at short odds at the best of times let alone after a three month break, so 5/1 is certainly a backable price for Book Of Secrets to pick up the pieces should Appleby’s three-year-old fail to fire.

Selection - BOOK OF SECRETS 5/1 EW

An oath I set myself when punting is to steer well clear of trappy Class 2 handicaps, yet here I am attempting to unwind the never-ending puzzle in the feature of the day - the Bombardier Golden Beer Handicap (2:00).

There’s a case to be made with all of these contenders. Revolutionise’s wind surgery has been exactly that after winning comfortably at Chelmsford, whilst Gulliver will be hoping this return to seven furlongs will light a new spark having clocked a rapid time in the last quarter of his last contest.

However, the aim of the game is value, and I think one contender deserves a shout at a rather ludicrous price. The form of SIR MAXIMILIAN’s recent fifth is beginning to work out very well - with four four subsequent winners coming from it - and he managed to overcome stall nine to register a very respectable performance. After settling in the rear of the pack he ran on into fifth behind Ghaith, who runs here 5lb worse off, and could cause a big shock at large odds.

He’s proven he likes the track, finishing a length back in sixth when running in a similar contest last October, and could be the value now returning to his last winning mark.

Selection: SIR MAXIMILIAN 25/1+ EW