It is always difficult to know what to do when a couple of horses that you thought you might want to back next time end up in the same race. Cue 3.10 at Chester today, the John Halewood Memorial Handicap.
At least top weight Halfsin has been scratched. He was third of the three in my book anyway. I thought that he ran a cracker in the City and Suburban Handicap at Epsom in April on his debut this season, racing too freely in front and sticking to the inside rail, probably racing on the softest of the soft ground on the day, but only fading inside the final furlong. He was out of his depth against the likes of Jet Away and Fiorente – probably Group class performers – in a listed race at Goodwood next time, and he is worth another chance in a handicap. Anyway, he has been scratched from today’s race. We’ll get him again.
Memory Cloth was difficult to get around. I backed him when he went down by just three parts of a length to Tullius in a good handicap at Newmarket on Guineas weekend. He looked a winner that day, he picked up well to get out after Tullius passing the furlong pole and it looked long odds-on – probably traded at long odds-on too – that he would catch the leader, but Andrew Balding’s horse just kept on galloping up the hill all the way to the line and kept him at bay.
The form looks strong. The pair of them pulled five lengths clear of Fury, who came out and won a listed handicap at York on his next run, with the useful Fattsota back in fourth.
Tullius beat Memory Cloth by further when the pair of them met nine days later at Windsor, but that race may have come just a little quickly for Brian Ellison’s horse. He has had a nice break since then, he goes well on soft ground, he shapes as if he will stay 10 furlongs, and he remains potentially well-handicapped even on a mark of 96, 6lb higher than his Newmarket mark.
That said, I just prefer Stand To Reason, even at a slightly shorter price. Mikael Magnusson’s colt rounded off last season by staying on well to land a one-mile soft-ground handicap at Sandown in July, and he kicked off this term by stepping up to 10 furlongs and running out an easy winner of another soft-ground handicap at Newbury.
Raised 8lb for that, he was sent off a warm favourite for a better handicap over today’s course and distance at Chester’s May meeting, but went down by a short head to Resurge. He looked the most likely winner on the crown of the home turn that day, but Resurge had his momentum up at the top of the home straight and Stand To Reason just couldn’t get past, ultimately going down by the bob of a head.
Resurge re-opposes today on just 1lb worse terms, but that was just the sixth run of Stand To Reason’s life, he still has significant scope for progression. He skipped a handicap at Epsom last weekend because of the fast ground, and he should be much more at home on today’s easier ground. He races today off a mark of 94, which is 4lb higher than the mark off which he got beaten by Resurge, but that is not harsh, given that he and Resurge pulled 13 lengths clear of their rivals.
By Danehill Dancer, Stand To Reason should really appreciate the easy ground, he has proven that he can handle the track, and he is well-drawn in stall two. He is a little shorter than you would ideally have liked, but 4.5 is still fair.
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