Spencer the right man for all-weather specialist King Kevin
King Kevin will be hard to beat on his return to this course and distance and this strong-travelling hold-up performer should have too many gears for the opposition.
Ed Dunlop’s four-year-old gelding already has an excellent record in all-weather handicaps with form figures of 31121122 – and his last three wins have come over this track and trip.
Although he has taken a hike in the ratings, he is still only 9lb higher than for his last win and weight shouldn’t stop him.
King Kevin’s last two runs came over further, with the 1m4f trip probably too far at Lingfield last time out while the gaps didn’t open in time when a close second over 1m2f at Chelmsford prior to that.
There is a chance that could happen here from his draw, but Jamie Spencer is the right man for the job.
Jennie Candlish has made a bright start to the year on the all-weather with five wins from eight runners and she has a good chance here with Sunshineandbubbles.
The mare landed a brace of handicaps around the turn of the year and probably found a mile too sharp when sixth at Southwell next time.
Her two subsequent runs over 1m1½f here were better. She went down by a length in third and was then a nose second behind a gambled-on Ian Williams runner last week, battling throughout the final stages and unlucky to be beaten. There was a six-length gap back to the third and the form looks good for the grade.
Sunshineandbubbles has not won in five runs over this far, but she should be stronger than when she last tried it given the last of those attempts was more than a year ago.
She won over 1m2f at Lingfield in December 2016 and there’s no reason why she can’t be just as effective here.
It’s worth taking a chance on Afandem returning to form on his first start for Mark Johnston and since being gelded.
He was one of the better two-year-olds a couple of seasons ago when in the care of Hugo Palmer, ending 2016 with a rating of 107.
Big things were expected last year and it never happened for him – perhaps he was feeling the effects of a busy juvenile campaign – but it’s not uncommon for horses to bounce back from a poor three-year-old season.
If that’s the case, then he will be hard to beat as he has plummeted in the weights and is now rated just 87.
Displaying Amber didn’t show a great deal when sent off at huge prices in three 6f all-weather maidens last year, but he looks like doing much better in handicaps.
Allotted a mark of 51 for his handicap debut at Newcastle over the minimum trip at the end of January, he showed much more promise.
He was slowly away there and was running quite freely in last place, but the penny finally dropped inside the last two furlongs and he came home with a rattle to snatch third on the line, just over a length off the winner.
Now that Ben Haslam’s runner has that experience behind him, he should be much more competitive, especially back over 6f, and a big run is expected.
Displaying Amber gets in here off bottom weight and this is not a strong contest.
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