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It is not recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles what the erstwhile Bishop of York thought of the sport of kings. For punters, the William Hill Great St. Wilfred Handicap run in his honour at Ripon on Saturday is his best known legacy. Like most bookie sponsored handicap sprints picking the winner is far from easy. However, there would be few more popular victors than Fantasy Believer.
This grand old campaigner has run more races than most horses have had training gallops, but his enthusiasm seems undiminished. He was only three lengths away from Stewards’ Cup winner Zidane last time out and the handicapper has given him chance of a perch of 95. Given that Fantasy Believer has won off 104, he is one the best weighted horses in a wide open race and can be backed each-way at a decent double figure price.
For those looking for a race with a touch of class, the small but select field that has gathered for the CGA Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury is well worth watching. Papal Bull finally justified his connection’s patience when winning in Group 2 company last time out at Newmarket. That confirmed the promise he showed at three when beating subsequent Breeders’ Cup winner Red Rocks at Royal Ascot. He seemed to fall out of love with the game after that, but a repetition of his Newmarket form will be enough today, even off top weight.
Later on Newbury’s card, Partners in Jazz can claim the CGA Ladies Day Handicap. He is a difficult horse to catch right, but his third just five days ago hinted at a revival in form. He does his best work in races with big fields run at a decent pace and should get both on Saturday.
2:45 Newbury: Papal Bull (win)
3:45 Ripon: Fantasy Believer (each-way)
3:55 Newbury: Partners in Jazz (each-way)