AZAM (5.45) is an interesting runner on a tricky but fascinating Wolverhampton card.
He won his maiden at Kempton by six lengths when trained by John Gosden and was subsequently over-rated by the handicapper.
Azam has since joined Mick Appleby with mixed success and drops in class today, having been re-assessed to a more realistic mark of 76. He wasn't beaten far in a Class 4 event here at the end of November and the cheek-pieces Azam wore when romping home at Kempton are re-fitted today.
With temperatures plummeting, the Dunstall Park surface will have been harrowed through the night, which means it will be riding deeper than usual. It makes finding winners even harder, so it is worth bearing that in mind.
I've put Azam in an each-way Lucky 15 along with Haraz (4.15), Beepeecee (4.45) and Berlusca (6.15).
I usually strike a line through 33-race maidens like Haraz, as horses like him are pure dodgepots. However, Jamie Osborne's gelding has plummeted to such a ridiculously low mark that he must go close to breaking his duck in the apprentices' handicap.
Haraz was heavily supported at Lingfield last time but got stuck in traffic before finishing strongly to almost catch the enterprisingly-ridden Gold Club. He knows his way around Wolverhampton and although I'm not totally convinced Haraz is an ideal mount for an apprentice, young Jack Dinsmore takes 7lb off his back.
Richard Hughes is slowly cranking up his winter all-weather operation and Beepeecee is another class-dropper under his 7lb claimer Stephen Cummins.
The four-year-old scored over course and distance last January and has been running consistently well ever since.
Berlusca's chance will be self-evident after a couple of furlongs as this tearaway can often ruin his chance by fighting for his head.
He ran away with a girl apprentice two starts ago and stopped to a walk but he is a man's ride. Ex-jump jockey Dougie Costello took Berlusca down to the start early last time and managed to settle him nicely until Berlusca pulled himself to the front. He was still at the head of affairs before in-form King Kevin arrived late on the scene to mug him close home.
Paddy's Return is the one I fear most in a modest affair.
- Wolverhampton 5.45 – Azam (9-2, bet365)
- Wolverhampton 4.15 – Haraz (4-1, general)
- Wolverhampton, 4.45 – Beepeecee (11-2, Betfred, Paddy Power)
- Wolverhampton, 6.15 – Berlusca (11-2, bet365)
Johnb's Monday Tips
- Fontwell 1:15 – Miss Molly Mae 7-2
- Wolverhampton 4:15 – Dark Alliance 5-1
- 6:45 – Victory Bond 1-1 skybet NAP
- 7:15 – Oneroa 4-1 NB