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French racing is frustrating at the best of times, especially when you expect the ground to be soft, but come the time of racing on the betting page the ground is ‘good'. It's 2023, yet there are that many conflicting reports of the ground, and that definitely didn't help the chances of Siam Paragon who wanted soft ground. I don't think he ran to the level of his previous two runs either, he had beaten many of the horses he was up against today and they all finished well ahead of him.
Queen Aminatu gave up far too much ground, like usual at Chelmsford, giving her no chance as the winner was the leader of the race, and the difference between them was far too big to bridge. Hi Royal got a terrible start and didn't get the opportunity to front run, similar to Siam Paragon, who was also bumped out of the gates. Frustrating day and not the return I wanted.
Ripon 7:55 – Merry Minister 4/1 (1pt Bet365)
An opening mark of 80 for Merry Minister doesn't make this an easy winner for Tom Marquand and Ed Walker, especially in a race which has some decent handicappers, but I do believe that he is better than that opening mark, and should be very competitive in this.
He has only raced three times in his short career to date, all coming since the back end of April. He has shown ability on all three starts, with the 5th/10 on the second run at Leicester showing his proven staying ability over a mile, with him running on strongly after breaking slowly out of the gates against some decent-level horses for the future from big stables. He backed that promise up when landing a novice race over 7f. I think his class shone through that for that race as that trip doesn't look to be what he wants, he didn't travel well through that race, looking to be lacking the speed, but the stamina in his pedigree from Churchill and the Dam's side came through in the end as he won going away.
The step up in 10f looks sure to suit, and the ground which SHOULD have some type of soft in the description looks to be fine for him too, with him handling those conditions nicely last time out, as well as Churchill producing some nice soft ground horses.
Ayr 4:05 – Geremia 6/1 (1pt Bet365)
Backing a horse who has Paul Mulrennan on board doesn't normally fill me with confidence, but credit where credit is due as when he won on this horse three races ago, he gave him a blinder.
Geremia will be held up in last place in this race like a lot of Paul Mulrennan rides these days (I think he's going for the Northern Jamie Spencer title), so he'll need a fair bit of luck in running, but if they go hard on the front end, or if another horse keeps La Pulga honest on the pace, Geremia should be able to travel nicely into the race and pick up the pieces. I thought the way he travelled into the race at Hamilton was very eye-catching, you could tell if he found the gaps he would be a huge player, even though he was miles off the pace, but when Paul got him closer you knew it was his race to lose. He has gone up a few pounds for that win, and that has seen him run two more decent races since one over 2m which probably stretches his stamina and then he never really managed to land a blow at Pontefract from the back of the field last time around.
However, he is a decent price in the market due to the two recent runs, but if you focus on the win and the run before his win at Newmarket, you've got to say he's got to be in with a very good chance of walking away with a second win of the year. The form of the Newmarket race has worked out nicely, with the winner running well at Royal Ascot, and the runner-up winning on his next run and then running well in the Northumberland Plate.
Ayr is expecting a few millimetres of rain, so the ground should turn soft, which is another thing in the favour of Geremia, who is proven on slow ground and should enjoy it better than most in this race.
Ripon - 7:55 pm
4/1 @ Bet365
Ayr - 4:05 pm