Spotlight on Ripon this Saturday as the track’s most valuable race of the season, the Great St Wilfrid Handicap sprint, takes place over six furlongs.

When looking at trends for this particularly tricky contest, history tells us that favourites have made this race their own in recent times, with the jolly going in for the last three years in succession. Dandy Nicholls will hope that continues in 2016 as he saddles this year’s market leader, Orion’s Bow, not to mention the well fancied Kimberella.

And it’s with ORION’S BOW that we start, a horse who rattled off four in a row earlier this season before coming up just short in the Steward’s Cup last time out. It’s rattling good form and little doubt he will take a lot of stopping if arriving here in the same heart. He does go up 9lbs for that last run, however, and there’s little question this will be a different task.

Next in the market comes RELATED for Paul Midgeley and it’s questionable in the extreme to see where the confidence is with him. He hasn’t won in more than 500 days and although there were signs of a return to form in the Steward’s Cup Consolation race last time at Goodwood, he surely has to improve a fair bit to land this prize. He’s 5lbs higher than that last winning mark, which was achieved by the narrowest of margins, so he’s easy enough to swerve here.

Far easier to make a case for KIMBERELLA, who has been in tremendous heart this season. He’s gone up an incredible 18lbs since the beginning of May and there may yet be improvement to come. He flopped in the Steward’s Cup but didn’t get the easiest of passages that day and would have finished a lot closer than he did. The quotes of 8/1 here are probably fair enough.

There’s a lot to like about the profile of NUNO TRISTAN. He bolted up in a Class 3 contest at Redcar on his penultimate run and the form has been franked with the 8th, 9th and 12th since coming out and winning. There have been excuses for defeat in his next couple of runs with trouble in running on both occasions and if he gets the gaps here he will be hard to stop. He still looks very nicely handicapped off a mark of 94 and I’ll be all aboard at 11/1.

INTISAAB is an incredibly consistent sort for David O’Meara and his recent form reads 21212. I get the feeling he remains a horse with untapped potential and when you watch back his last run, he had so much to do after fluffing his start before running on into second. If he’s more alert here then he ought to be in the shake up and 12/1 is nice value for a gelding that rarely runs a bad race these days.

ALBEN STAR is an old favourite of mine and a really consistent handicapper who will always run his race. He’s slipped 9lbs since April and frankly I think he’s on a very dangerous mark right now. The big doubt would be his turf form (he hasn’t won on this surface for four years and has restricted his winning to the all weather) and that might just prove his undoing here.

One at a price who may be worth keeping an eye on in GO FAR for Alan Bailey – a trainer who is very good at readying a horse with a handicap mark. Go Far is 1lb below his last winning mark and his last two runs were frankly too bad to be true, so it wouldn’t surprise in the slightest to see him going well at a very juicy price of 33/1.

VERDICT: Favourites have ruled the roost in recent years but I think we’ll be seeing a change this time. NUNO TRISTAN has been very unlucky in running the last twice and is a horse on the upgrade who most definitely has another victory in him sooner rather than later. At 11/1 he rates the clear value pick (1pt each way with SkyBet).

Good luck,


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