This is a big Northern Handicap to get our teeth into this coming weekend and their are several horses we have looked at in detail over the last few weeks that are in with a shout of winning.
With 20 runners set to run it is likely that the field will split into 2 groups as in previous years and those drawn high have tended to fare best of all when there has been some give. The going is currently Good to Firm, so keep an eye out on the weather as there is set to be some rain later in the week. If it stayed Good to Firm you will need to be were the pace is as it is difficult to come from behind here.
Tajneed, a prominent racer usually, was the winner of this race in 2008 on Good to Soft off a mark of 92 (94 now). He was unlucky last time out when leaving the stalls as his jockey was slow to remove the hood and as a cosequence he jinked violently right and lost several lengths on the others. He then made steady progress through the race to finish fastest of all and only 4 lengths off the winner Hawkeyethenoo. If Tajneed gets some give in the going and breaks away sharply on Saturday there's every chance he could be another winner for the Nicholls sprint bandwagon and it would make his record at the track 4-4 and at this stage his odds of 8/1 look attractive.
Nicholls also has Goodwood winner Joseph Henry and Indian Trail to make up his 3 contenders however the latter needs 14 to come out to get in. He finished 3rd in 2007 off a mark of 92 and is rated 81 now and he still seems to be as good as ever on his recent running on 5th at Goodwood behind Hamoody.
Nicholls himself does have a good record in the race, he had the 6th, 7th and 8th in 2009, 1st and 2nd in 2008 and 3rd in 2007 as well as other placings over the years.
Other horses to look our for in this fiercely competitive sprint are Rileyskeepingfaith, Hitchens, Noverre to Go, Tiddliwinks, Favourite Girl, Wildcat Wizard and Joseph Henry. Most of those contested the Stewards Cup where Rileyskeepingfaith in coming 4th came out on top, however if it was Good to Firm on Saturday 5th placed Noverre to Go could turn the tables on him.
Joseph Henry, Wildact Wizard and Tiddliwinks finished 1st, 3rd and 4th respectively in the Stewards Cup consolation race which although run in a faster time than the actual Cup it was run on better going the day before. The 6th there, Five Star Junior, ran 2nd to Masta Plasta on tuesday night, having been unlucky in running and upholds the form. The 3rd and 4th could turn round the form however with Joseph Henry on 4lb better terms as both were unlucky in running at Goodwood.
Hitchens is trained by another handicap wizard in David Barron and it was interesting that Roger Charlton thought he was Genki's main danger in the Stewards Cup. Favourite Girl just keeps on improving and it would be no suprise to see her go well again too.
So there you have it, a very tough puzzle to solve, however at this stage I would be interested in Tajneed, Tiddliwinks, Noverre to Go and Wildcat Wizard.