Ripon preview: Class-dropping Azagal holds all the aces
Azagal can take advantage of a drop in the weights to land the 1m handicap on this evening’s card at Ripon (19.05), now eased significantly in grade.
The Tim Easterby trained filly has won four of her 31 starts, and the last of those successes came in a class 3 contest at Nottingham in April when scoring by 1/2 a length off a mark of 87.
Azagal has since found life tougher in five subsequent starts, including three in class 2 contests, but has been far from disgraced and now drops into class 4 company for the first time in her career.
Having once been rated as high as 96, the four-year-old is also able to race off a off a mark of just 84.
That is 3lb lower than when last successful and the lowest rating Azagal has run off in two years.
It gives the daughter of Azamour outstanding claims from a handicapping perspective in what is the weakest race she has competed in for a long time.
Easterby looks to have major claims of completing a quick-fire double on the card with See The Sun in the 5f feature handicap (19.35).
The gelding won a valuable 20-runner contest at York last June, making all and staying on strongly to beat Naadirr by a neck off a mark of 90.
See The Sun was was then far from disgraced when sixth of 19 at Newmarket off a revised rating of 97, before occupying the same position behind the now top class Muthmir in an ultra-competitive contest at York.
The four-year-old is now able to race off 89, 1lb lower than when last successful, having shaped as if returning to form on his penultimate start when beaten 1 1/4 lengths in a class 2 contest at Newcastle.
Although See The Sun failed to back up that effort 10 days ago when 15th of 20 in a similar grade affair at York, the son of Assertive now drops down into class 3 company and gets fitted with blinkers for the first time.
If the new headgear has the desired effect, See The Sun looks weighted to take all the beating on the pick of his form.
18.05: By Far
19.05: Azagal (NAP)
19.35: See The Sun (NB)
20.05: Lady Yeats