Ayr and Cartmel previews: Dark Crystal ready to sparkle
David Metcalf | July 18, 2016
Crystal weighted to strike at Ayr
Dark Crystal has been shaping well of late and looks decent value to get back to winning ways in the 7f handicap on today’s card at Ayr (15.05).
Linda Perratt’s trained mare is a dual course winner on good-to-soft ground and came good at this time last year when bagging a brace of handicaps at Musselburgh and this venue.
In the last of those successes she held on gamely to beat Normandy Knight by 1 1/4 lengths off a mark of 61 before going on to twice make the frame off 65.
The five-year-old is now able to race off 60 and comes into the race on the back of two solid efforts when runner-up over 1m at this venue before finishing a solid seventh at Musselburgh when getting hampered at a crucial stages.
Those runs suggest that Dark Crystal’s time is near, and it’s interesting that she scored twice in July back in 2014 and her first victory last season also came in that month.
Lots to like about Lord Ben Stack
In the 1m handicap (17.10), Lord Ben Stack can take advantage of what looks a handy mark to land the spoils.
The Karl Burke trained gelding looked a smart prospect when winning at Haydock on his second start as a juvenile back in 2014, but has clearly not been the easiest to train and has subsequently had a few lengthy spells on the sidelines and just six starts.
However, the four-year-old showed that he retained plenty of ability on his final start last season when beaten just a neck by Cymro at Haydock off a mark of 93.
He allowed the winner first run, and was arguably an unlucky loser, and Cymro to whom he was conceding 4lb has gone on to score twice since and finish a solid fourth in a Group 3 at Chester to be rated 102.
That represents strong form and suggests Lord Ben Stack is potentially well-treated off a mark of 95 in this class 2 contest.
13.55: Three Duchesses
15.05: Dark Crystal (NAP)
16.40: Falcon’s Fire
17.10: Lord Ben Stack (NB)
17.40: Toffee Apple
Sensation can cash-in on class drop at Cartmel
Next Sensation has become dangerously well-treated and can take advantage of a drop in class to score an overdue success in the 2m 1f handicap chase on today’s card at Cartmel (16.25).
The Michael Scudamore trained gelding enjoyed his finest hour when staying on strongly to beat Eastlake by four lengths in the 2015 running of Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 143.
Next Sensation got put up to 153 for that success and has struggled badly since.
However, that has resulted in a huge drop in the weights and he is now able to race in this off just 129.
It makes the nine-year-old thrown-in at the weights if bouncing back to anything like his best, and the son of Brian Boru comes into the race having hinted at a return to form when fourth in a class 2 contest at Uttoxeter.
If building on that the front-running Next Sensation could prove tough to peg back now dropped into class 3 company.
King can rule in handicap chase
Pay The King has proved a costly horse to follow but is undoubtedly dangerously well-treated and looks worth another chance to capitalise on his plummeting mark in the 3m 1f handicap chase (16.55).
The gelding had some useful form over hurdles earlier in his career when trained by Paul Nicholls, and made a winning debut over the obstacles for Micky Hammond when scoring at this venue by a head off an official rating of 115.
Things haven’t gone to plan since that successes, with Pay The King managing to make the frame on just four occasions from 16 starts.
However, that has resulted in the handicapper cutting the nine-year-old plenty of slack and he is now able to race off a career-low rating of 86.
That gives Pay The King major claims on the pick of his form, and with the ground fine and Joe Colliver taking off another 3lb with his claim the son of King’s Theatre looks weighted to take all the beating now dropped into class 5 company for the first time in his career.
14.10: Utmost Zeal
14.45: Maybe I Wont
16.25: Next Sensation (NAP)
16.55: Pay The King (NB)
17.25: Morning With Ivan