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
In the Redcar Racecourse Conference & Wedding Venue Handicap (3.25) on Thursday, Bow And Arrow won’t be plying his trade in 0-85 company for much longer after quickening clear to win by 13 lengths at Beverley a week ago but, for the time being, is 7lb well in under a 6lb penalty and cannot realistically be opposed. The Iffraaj colt has evidently come on leaps and bounds since turned over, at odds on, on his seasonal and handicap debut at Chelmsford City in February, but could still be open to any amount of improvement after just five career starts.
Trainer Charlie Appleby has a respectable, if unspectacular, 1-6 (17%) with three-year-olds at the North Yorkshire venue since becoming licensed to train for Godolphin the summer before last, but he appears to have found an ideal opportunity for Bow And Arrow to strike again while the iron is hot. Jockey William Buick heads north for just one ride on Thursday afternoon and it will be disappointing if Bow And Arrow cannot record a routine victory against largely exposed opposition.
Selection: Redcar 3.25 Bow And Arrow to win