We’ve searched far and wide in the hunt for a weekend winner, and although the Channel 4 cameras will be stationed at Doncaster for the start of the Flat, I’ll be keeping a beady eye on Ascot’s Independent Newspaper Veterans’ Handicap Chase (4.40pm Ascot Friday) where Philip Hobbs’ Out The Black looks primed to follow up his recent Donny win in this 3m contest.
The introduction of Veterans’ Chases has been a major triumph for the folks at the race planning department; with fields restricted to horses aged 10 and above they’ve breathed life into many an animal otherwise considered over the hill.
As for Out The Black, the 11 year old saw a renaissance in his form when winning an identical contest over course and distance (then rated 127) just under a year ago, seeing off Briery Fox (who re-opposes) by three parts of a length, and he’s been in decent form this term.
He ran a couple of solid races at Ascot before Christmas, and the handicapper was charitable in raising him only 3lb to a perch of 133 after his end of February Doncaster success.
Although he only beat Gidam Gidam half a length that day he was value for much further in my opinion, he idled close home and could well have won five lengths had he chosen to.
The forecast good ground will be a major boost, as will Richard Johnson resuming steering duties (he was on board when the selection won over C&D last April).
With conditions very much in his favour the bang in form Out The Black looks sure to run a very big race here.
At Kempton on Saturday I’ll be re-investing on the subject of last week’s column Bronze Cannon in the listed Magnolia Stakes at 3.35pm.
John Gosden’s four year old has a few pounds to make up on four of this eight runner field on official figures, but he ran a cracker to make us an each way profit when third in the Lingfield Winter Derby last Saturday (a race which wasn’t run to suit as it developed into a sprint finish), and he can continue his progress here.
We know Bronze Cannon is a confirmed Kempton operator having won both a maiden and a nursery there in his two year old days.
Don’t forget this time last year he was considered good enough to hold entries in both the Dante and the Derby, and although he clearly isn’t up to that standard I’d be more than hopeful he can make up into a Group 3 horse this season.
The other interesting detail is the booking of Nicky Mackay, a really talented pilot who had a tough time of it last year when he split from Luca Cumani. He’s been riding out for Gosden every day and rode a winner for him on 11/4 shot Sehoy at Lingfield on Wednesday.
The stable’s horses are really starting to motor with five winners and almost everything they’ve run making the frame in the last couple of weeks. Bronze Cannon can continue the hot streak.?
Lastly make sure you don’t miss the coverage of the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba.
I suspect I won’t be needing too much factor 15 at Town Moor, but the lucky few who’ve escaped on expenses to the desert can extend their good fortune by backing Japan’s big hope Casino Drive to scoop the extraordinary £2.5m first prize.
He’s drawn right in the middle of the 14 in gate eight, and having run a belter in a very good time in Tokyo’s Group One February Stakes last time out I fancy him to take this stepping up in trip. Get on at 11/2 with Boylesports.
Tom’s weekend tips:
4.40 Ascot, Friday – 6 Out The Black (win)
3.35 Kempton, Saturday – 6 Bronze Cannon (win)
5.30 Nad Al Sheba, Saturday – 8 Casino Drive (win)
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