In the 3.40 at Ayr on Friday, Clan Legend has made steady progress this season, winning three of his four starts and going down by just 1¾ lengths, off his current mark, when third at Uttoxeter in January, despite blundering at the second last flight. The Midnight Legend gelding has officially improved by 22lb since making his seasonal debut at Kelso in November and demonstrated admirable battling qualities when winning over course and distance, off an 8lb lower mark, in January.
He failed to trouble the judge in eight starts in ‘bumpers’ and over hurdles prior to the start of the season, but has discovered his form with a vengeance this term and, as the sort who doesn’t win his races by far, the handicapper could have some trouble catching up with him. Two miles on soft or heavy going is right up his street and he can continue his progress against some fully exposed opposition.
Selection: Ayr 3.40 Clan Legend to win
So it turns out that every time I was on the verge of blubbing due to yet another unsuccessful trip to the races, the horses probably felt sorry for me. According to a new study by Psychologists at Sussex University horses are capable of telling whether a person is happy or angry. I struggle with that myself sometimes, so maybe I should take a horse with me everywhere I go. I think I’ll call him Mister Ed.
This follows a study from the same University last year which detailed images of different facial expressions in horses and how they relate to their emotional state (identifying 17 discrete expressions in horses). Fascinating stuff really. It looks like man’s best friend finally has some competition. I always knew there was a reason I prefered a day at the races compared to going to the dog track!
In the Otter Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (3.00) at Leicester on Wednesday, April Dusk won a maiden point-to-point over 3 miles at Ballybunion last May and got off the mark over regulation fences at the first time of asking over 2 miles 4 furlongs at Uttoxeter in December. Unsurprisingly, being by Turtle Island out of a Zaffaran mare, Warren Greatrex’s 7-year-old likes soft going and is blessed with an abundance of stamina, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by an extra two or three furlongs, even on a testing track like Leicester.
Topweight Lessons In Milan also won between the flags in Ireland as a 5-year-old and looks the pick of the opposition. However, Nicky Henderson’s 8-year-old makes his debut over regulation fences after an absence of 334 days and faces a stiff task conceding 9lb to the progressive April Dusk. Warren Greatrex is 0-3 at Leicester during the last five seasons, but that shouldn’t count against April Dusk, who otherwise looks a decent bet to complete a hat-trick.
Selection: Leicester 3.00 April Dusk to win
In the British Stallion Studs EBF Totepool Nottinghamshire Oaks Stakes (4.20) at Nottingham on Wednesday, Dream Child failed by just a neck to overhaul Miss Marjurie on her return to turf at Goodwood last month and may be capable of further progress. Miss Marjurie franked the form when edging out Wonderstruck in the Group 3 888Sport Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock on Saturday so, with nothing to find with any of her rivals, bar Pleasant Valley, on official ratings, Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old looks the one to be on.
The daughter of Pivotal drops back two furlongs or so in distance on rain-softened ground, but she’s won three times over 1 mile 1½ furlongs at Wolverhampton and ran well enough on her one attempt on soft going to suggest it won’t be a problem. In fact, she may be better suited by the prevailing conditions than her nearest rival, Pleasant Valley, who’s been campaigned almost exclusively on good to firm or good going. The pair has 5lb and 4lb in hand of their rivals, respectively, and look the two on which to concentrate in any case.
Selection: Nottingham 4.20 Dream Child to win