The last seven winners of the prestigious William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon have started from a double-digit draw but that stat is, of course, misleading. A few years ago, stalls numbers were all regimented so that the lowest were placed against the inside so many of those winners were actually drawn near the far rail, unlike under new conditions. Much more impressive is the fact that anything aged eight or older has, historically, little chance and no three-year-old have won this valuable sprint since Pipalong in the last century and she was a Group 1 performer. So, immediately, you can put a line through Borderlescott, Blaine, Polski Max and Regal Parade. I can’t see the Scott Dixon pair, Dr Red Eye and Thunderball, being good enough while it doesn’t look like Hoof It is the force of old and he may struggle under his big weight. There are similar concerns surrounding Captain Ramius but, now we’ve crossed a few off the list, what’s going to win?
The Armstrong Memorial Handicap over the same course and distance as this weekend’s feature may well hold the key as SPINATRIX (9/1 with BetVictor and Betfred) beat Pearl Ice (11/1 with Coral), despite having to weave his way through from an uncompromising position. The runner-up is a couple of pounds better off and David Barron has brought over promising Irish apprentice Conor Hoban to ride, but Michael Dods‘ sprinter looks worth sticking with as he’s yet to run a bad race on the track and recent rain is of no concern.
Baccarat has been well backed (11/2 with Coral) following a couple of decent runs in good company since winning over track and trip in the spring. He’s only had seven runs but he’s one of those whose connections wouldn’t want conditions to ease. Louis The Pious (10/1 with Boylesports and William Hill) finished ahead of a number of this weekend’s rivals when seventh in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood and must have some sort of chance off the same handicap mark while David O’Meara also runs Dick Bos. The bottom weight has proved ultra-consistent this term, winning over course and distance in June. He seems to enjoy the hurly-burly of these big fields and is no forlon hope at Skybet‘s 11/1 given he’s oblivious to the state of the going.
Dick Bos starts from stall 11 and will probably track across to the far side where the pace appears to be. But Spinatrix will only have to keep straight from stall one to hold a good position and it’s the Dods’ five-year-old who looks the most likely winner.