3.30 Ripon – KHARBETATION (nb)
The selection, trained by David O’Meara, is a nicely-bred son of Dream Ahead who made a winning start to his career a 1m maiden at Thirsk last July (11/2 chance), slowly into stride and in rear until making good progress on the outer from halfway, travelling powerfully in second at the top of the straight and taking over on the bridle over a furlong out, nudged clear inside the final furlong to score by 5 lengths from Ehtiraas (pair well clear). It was a deeply impressive start from this gelding, fractious at the stalls beforehand and slowly away from them but doing everything else right, coasting along throughout and readily dispatching a more experienced rival who went one better next time out. For all it could hardly be termed as lenient, an opening mark of 93 may yet underestimate him given his smart pedigree and the ease of that debut success; has a 313-day absence to overcome (refused to go into the stalls on his intended return at Ayr last month), but it’d still be disappointing if he couldn’t go well on this belated return to action.
7.00 Sandown – ALMOREB (nap)
The selection, trained by Richard Hannon, is a well-bred son of Raven’s Pass who debuted in a 1m maiden at Newmarket last October (20/1 chance), racing in midfield and pushed along over three furlongs out, running green and fading approaching the final furlong to come home in seventh behind Cracksman (beaten 12½ lengths). He knew a lot more when making a winning return to action in a 7f maiden at Newbury three weeks ago (8/1 chance), soon leading but pressed approaching the two furlong marker, headed not long after and carried left but responding well for pressure regain the lead inside the final 100 yards and score by half a length from Highway One. It was a gutsy display from this colt, much improved from debut and handling rain-softened conditions with aplomb to land a race that has already seen the third and fifth place horses win since. An opening mark of 82 looks manageable, bred to be smart as a half brother to 1m Listed scorer Spirit Raiser and out of Falmouth Stakes winner Macadamia; return to 1m ought to suit and, open to further improvement, it wouldn’t at all surprise to see this colt take this competitive prize.