Ripon preview: Great St Wilfrid Handicap (15.30)
Trainer David O’Meara has a tremendous record in the Great St Wilfred Handicap, and Eccleston looks to hold major claims of further enhancing it with victory in the 6f feature contest at Ripon (15.30).
O’Meara has won the race three times in the last four years, and in Eccleston has a gelding who is nicely treated on the pick of his form.
The four-year-old landed a handicap at Sandown on soft ground on his first start last season off a mark of 88, and went on to finish a fine third in a conditions’ contest at York of an official rating of 104.
Eccleston’s form then tailed off before he took advantage of a drop in the weight to return to winning ways at Hyadock back in May off a mark of 90.
The son of Acclamation is now able to race off just 1lb higher, and comes into the contest on the back of two really solid efforts.
In the first of those, Eccleston was slowly away before keeping on well to finish a never nearer fifth of 15 to Poyle Vinnie in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup at Hamilton and now meets the winner on 14lb better terms.
Eccleston then got no luck in-running whatsoever last time out over course and distance when running on strongly to be beaten just 1 1/4 lengths into fifth and finishing the race with plenty of petrol left in the tank.
Judged on those efforts Eccleston is ready to go in again, and it looks significant that he is the yard’s only representative in this year’s renewal.
Eccleston has also crept in off bottom-weight of 8st 11lb, and from a good draw in stall two everything looks in place for a huge run.
There are dangers aplenty in a wide-open contest, and one of the more interesting is Fast Track.
The David Barron trained four-year-old has won there of his 11 starts and ran a blinder two starts back when chasing home the thriving Red Baron in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.
Fast Track backed that up with a cracking sixth of 27 to Golden Steps in the Stewards’ Cup consolation race at Glorious Goodwood two weeks ago when keeping on to be beaten three lengths.
Those runs suggest that the son of Rail Link is capable of winning a big sprint handicap like this.
Coral’s top tip: There’s plenty of reasons to side with O’Meara again, though, with Eccleston.