Great St Wilfrid Handicap Preview
The Great St Wilfrid Handicap is the highlight of the racing year at Ripon and has attracted a massive 66 entries at the latest declaration stage. Markab (2009) was the only winning favourite in the past eleven seasons with the other ten winners all returning at 10-1 or bigger.
Pepper Lane won this race in 2011 and 2012 for David O’Meara and he saddles Louis The Pious and Dick Bos as he goes for the hat-trick. Louis The Pious was driven up on the line to win at Haydock last month but was outpaced when finishing seventh in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.
The early market support has been for stable companion Dick Bos who has been campaigned in the top sprints in Ireland this season. He ran creditably in the Paddy Power sprint (4th) and the Rockingham Handicap (7th) before finishing in midfield behind Tropics at York.
The ante-post favourite Baccarat also ran in that York race, finishing sixth after meeting with interference. Last week’s course and distance winner Spinatrix should go well along with Gabbiano who was a short-head winner at Ascot last month.
The weights are headed by Mick Easterby’s 2011 Stewards’ Cup winner Hoof It. He was off the track for over a year before reappearing at York last month and he was unable to repeat his triumph in the big Goodwood sprint.
Ayr Gold Cup winner Captain Ramius will only take his chance if there is sufficient give in the ground. He is booked for a return visit to Scotland later in the season and this race is regarded as a stepping stone.
His trainer, Kevin Ryan, has no less than nine entries and put in a word for Zacynthus who has just joined the stable from Luca Cumani. The five-year-old has never raced at a shorter distance than seven furlongs but Ryan is confident that he will be suited by the fast pace here.
David Nicholls is always to be feared in these big spring handicaps and Summerinthecity could be the best of his entries. He was only beaten a short head by Tropics at York and may have been a shade unlucky after being bumped close to the finishing line.