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Beverley Preview: Dark Opal can defy top-weight

Today’s marathon eight-race card at Beverley is due to be staged on heavy ground, but one horse that won’t be inconvenienced by the testing conditions is Dark Opal in the 5f sprint handicap (3.00).

The John Weymes trained filly ran well to finish fourth of 14 to Barkston Ash on soft ground at Redcar last year off 69, before rounding the season off with victory in a 5f contest at Ayr in testing conditions off 67.

The daughter of Camacho now has to race off 70, but it is a mark which she has won off in the past.

Dark Opal also has the services in the saddle of Joey Haynes, who takes an invaluable 5lb off her back and was onboard when she was last successful.

That gives Dark Opal every chance of defying top weight of 9st 7lb, especially with the 5f trip and ground ideal.

In the 1m handicap (4.00), Baraweez looks capable of shrugging off a 3lb rise in the weights following success last month at Ayr.

The gelding showed a useful level of form last year when trained in France by Freddie Head, and came good at the second time of asking for new handler Brian Ellison when showing a good attitude to beat Ingelby Symphony by 3/4 of a length.

Although that win came on quick ground, the son of Cape Cross ran well on soft ground in France and is just the type of horse that Ellison excels with.

Baraweez could well be on step ahead of the handicapper off a mark of 79, and should be open to more improvement after just six runs.

Mick Easterby has his team in good form, and Aldreth has major claims of providing him with another winner in the finale (5.35).

The gelding showed little four maidens runs last season, but like many of the stable’s inmates has shown marked improvement since being sent handicapping.

The son of Champs Elysees ran well to finish fourth over 1m 1f on his seasonal reappearance at Wolverhampton off an opening handicap mark of 57, and backed that up with a solid second at Redcar last time out on soft ground.

The four-year-old stuck to the task really well in the latter, and the step up in trip to 1m 4f this afternoon looks sure to suit.

With the handicapper having left Aldreth’s mark unchanged on 57, this looks a great opportunity for him to notch his first success.

Selections:
2.00: White Flag
2.30: Bowson Fred
3.00: Dark Opal (NAP)
3.30: Choc’a’moca
4.00: Baraweez (NB)
4.30: Stanarley Pic
5.00: Abbey Village
5.35: Aldreth