Value Bet: Shadow going under the radar –

Value Bet: Shadow going under the radar

Berkshire not out of place if ready to rock

Saturday’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas Stakes almost looks Charlie Appleby’s to lose but having got Coroebus on side already antepost I’m in no mind to double down on him, or save on the odds-on market leader for that matter, heading into the weekend.

Appleby won’t need reminding he’s yet to win the opening Classic and it obviously won’t be a simple task for either of his runners, but champion two-year-old Native Trail did look seriously impressive when winning the Craven on his comeback, while Coroebus showed genuine sparks of brilliance as a juvenile.

If there’s going to be a turn-up then it could be a case of something really appreciating a strongly-run mile for the first time and with so many potential pace angles on paper, it could be an ideal scenario for BERKSHIRE SHADOW to grab a piece of the action.

Along with Point Lonsdale and Perfect Power, Andrew Balding’s horse is one of three 2021 Royal Ascot winners lining up on Saturday having landed the Coventry Stakes on just his second career start last summer and I’m convinced we didn’t see the best of him when narrowly denied at Goodwood, or when dropped back to six furlongs for the Gimcrack at York.

The subsequent layoff arguably confirmed as much but he signed off last year with a very respectable effort when fourth – sporting a first-time tongue-tie – in the Dewhurst and at least that will have given connections something to build on over the winter, and confidence he’s not going to look out of place in a Guineas. He returns without the tongue-tie – make of that what you will.

Poetic Flare could manage only 10th in the 2020 Dewhurst before winning the opening Classic last spring and Balding clearly wouldn’t be running if he didn’t expect Berkshire Shadow to be competitive. The son of Dark Angel always looked to have the size and scope to make a top three-year-old last year and he possesses a nice blend of speed and stamina in his pedigree too.

If they go hard – and that looks almost guaranteed with Royal Patronage, Boundless Ocean and Point Lonsdale all unlikely to be hanging around early on – then Berkshire Shadow has a nice-looking draw right amongst that trio in stall seven, and it’s not too much of a stretch to see him rewarding those on the lookout for some each-way value.

Take two in complex sprint puzzle

The My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap is right in this column’s wheelhouse and I’m prepared to go double-handed, the first selection being the locally-trained ABOVE.

A real bull of a horse who clearly lost his way when trained by Archie Watson, he’s not been with Stuart Williams all that long and looked to be begging for a return to sprinting when racing keenly before finishing second to the well-handicapped, former Group One winner Accidental Agent over seven furlongs here at the last meeting.

That was a nice step up on his Wolverhampton comeback run and showed that he still has plenty to offer on grass despite doing most of his best work on all-weather tracks over the past couple of seasons.

So much so that he’s rated 97 on the AW but can run here off 93 and you only have to go back to last summer to see he was a decent seventh (beaten just four and a half lengths by Rohaan despite losing two shoes) off a mark of 100 in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot.

He’s the veteran of the party at eight years of age now but Kevin Ryan, who took him in from Declan Carroll’s at the start of 2020, has got the horse performing close to his very best and his second over the minimum trip at Musselburgh recently was right up there with his two Ripon victories (including the Great St Wilfrid) last season in bare form terms. The race also received a timely boost with fifth home Raasel winning at Goodwood on Friday.

Justanotherbottle is 2lb well-in here as the weights were already published before the Musselburgh effort so it looks a wise move to run rather than wait for a shot at a pattern race, and he’ll love the return to six furlongs on a track where it can pay to be prominent.

He’s drawn right next to Above in 10 so hopefully they’re low enough to manoeuvre across if all the action is unfolding more towards the far rail, but there’s a lot of guesswork involved when it comes to the draw at Newmarket and sometimes it’s best to ignore the hype.

Falcon can dictate matters on front end

The other one to be on at HQ is Mark and Charlie Johnston’s FOREST FALCON in the Betfair Daily Rewards Suffolk Handicap.

I fell for him when powering home under top weight in a 0-80 at Carlisle last August, a race in which he seemed to do plenty wrong – he didn’t settle until allowed to forge on up the straight – yet still won easily.

Since then he’s followed up at Yarmouth the following month (made all) before making an encouraging reappearance when third to the Gosdens’ Trawlerman at Chelmsford in the middle of this month, and he’s still only 9lb higher than for the Carlisle victory.

Copper capable of striking Thirsk gold

I’ll give Goodwood’s William Hill Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes a miss as Primo Bacio stands out a mile on best form but I’d like to see her show something this year before getting financially involved as she was out of sorts when last seen.

The Fitzdares Thirsk Hunt Cup Handicap is another cracking betting race, though, and it’s 5/1 the field at the time of writing.

Last year’s third Astro King has fared a bit better with the draw this time although Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is 7lb higher in the ratings and it’s not hard to see him tightening up for the run ahead of a trip to York or Ascot in the coming weeks.

I backed On A Session at Lingfield on Good Friday and he only just missed out but the mile seemed to stretch him there so he’s possibly best watched until dropping back to seven furlongs.

Starshiba could be another shrewd purchase for David O’Meara and The Horse Watchers, though he’s another for whom this may prove too great a test of stamina, and the one who looks a shade too big in the market is Ruth Carr’s COPPER AND FIVE.

He’s not particularly flashy and if something has a stone in hand then it won’t be him, but he’s still quite lightly raced for a six-year-old and had a progressive season last year, winning three Class 4 handicaps.

The big question now is whether he can step up to this sort of level but he’s been shaping well without getting the rub of the green in some decent races so far this term and has slipped back to a mark just 2lb higher than for the most recent of those 2021 victories.

Joanna Mason clearly gets on well with him and I really like the draw in stall five as he’s very effective when able to just sit on the shoulder of the front-runners before delivering a challenge. That scenario could pan out sweetly here with Jean Baptise just on his inside and, with the extra places on offer, I’ll add another each-way play to the Saturday staking plan.

Published at 1600 BST on 29/04/22

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