Steve Hughes picks two soft ground specialists for Tuesday
We move into the autumn season and already the ground is very much on the soft side for today’s meetings. I have selections who will be at home on the testing going, one each from Goodwood and Epsom. Sociopath gave us a winning end to August at Newcastle yesterday (advised 100/30).
Epsom 3.35: Harlequin Striker
After a fairly dismal start to his 2015 campaign, Harlequin Striker bounced back to form at Ffos Las recently with an all the way win in a small field handicap. Whilst this race will prove tougher, a return to his favoured slow ground should bring about further improvement.
His one run on genuine soft ground came at Newbury in a nursery last season winning well by making all over this 7f trip off a mark of 78. Also in his favour is a good record at this unusual track, having already won his maiden here the previous week. He went on to complete his juvenile campaign with a fourth in a better handicap here last September.
Until his win last time out his form had been poor with three last places out of four, but in the middle of those runs came a much better effort when fourth here, beaten less than a length by Denzille Lane. With the ground much more to his liking today we can see him to even better effect and he has only been put up 2lbs for that last win leaving him still a pound lower than his Newbury win last term.
Goodwood 5.25: Sword of the Lord
Sword of the Lord promised to be quite a useful soft ground horse when winning a couple of mile races at the backend of the 2013 season. Things had not progressed as hoped since, but he finally got back on track when winning at Ffos Las on Friday and he can defy a 6lb penalty with victory again today at soggy Goodwood.
He lost his way completely in 2014 and ended up being sold to race over hurdles last winter. Despite several attempts to stretch his stamina to 2m for jumping he never quite managed to see out the trip – a couple of third places being his best efforts. However if nothing else that spell seemed to sweeten him up and he has been in much better form of late for his new connections.
A step up from a mile to 10f has certainly helped. His stamina has lasted plenty well enough for that distance and he built on a third in an amateurs race at Newbury with a second place on good-to-soft at Bath last week. He then cruised home in an admittedly weak race at Ffos Las in bottomless ground, so should be able to stay the extra furlong today and ground which won’t be quite as holding. Jockey Willie Twiston Davies has an excellent record on the gelding reading 51126421 and he still remains some way lower than his career high rating.
1pt win – Harlequin Striker – Epsom 3.35 – 100/30 BetVictor, Coral, William Hill
2pts win – Sword of the Lord – Goodwood 5.25 – 7/4 general