A Maiden Auction Stakes over 5f on good to firm going. A restricted race type which generally favours form horses.
Sir Viktor is a strapping son of Sir Prancealot, racing in the familiar silks of Kristian Strangeway. This bay colt made a monkey out of me at Yarmouth because I was convinced he would struggle to drop back to 6f after running well to finish fourth at Beverley over 7.5f. Considering he started his career over the minimum trip, you have to consider that Karl Burke wasn't quite sure what trip would be best although, to be fair, Sir Viktor is probably versatile. This Irish-bred didn't lack for pace at Yarmouth and had his opposition off their bridles enjoying the sea air with the choke out as he zipped clear of the field but collared in the closing stages beaten less than two lengths. That was a fair performance. It will be interesting to see if he has the pace to try and crack this field in the early stages but it is worth noting that the difference between five and six furlongs from a pace angle is marked. The positive with Sir Viktor is that you know he will have the stamina to run to the line so unless he really is pushed too fast he should be competitive here. Time will tell whether he tries to lead. At a lower level, I would rather a horse finish a race than try to lead all the way. I would be surprised if he has the pace to lead here but after last time out I made to look like a monkey's uncle this time round. Intriguing horse at this grade.
Rag Tatter showed a very little ability of debut at Pontefract when an outsider at odds of 20-1. This bay gelding was 25-1 when making his next start at Nottingham. This son of Kheleyf finished second splitting two juveniles with lively reputations. He did have the advantage of race experience against the debutantes in question so perhaps they were a little ring rusty or he made the most of a good start and battling qualities. The winner [Eaton Square, trained by John Gosden] didn't look like it knew what was being asked but a strapping colt who will be racing at Group class by his physical stature, expensive price tag, and connections. The third horse [Vaulted] ran well at Thirsk on Tuesday when finishing runner-up and beaten by a smart juvenile. If Rat Tag's form can be taken to be a true reflection of the first and third when running at Nottingham, he will be very hard to beat. That's the gamble.
Mama Africa has been fancied in the betting on both starts to date. This brown filly, a daughter of Big Bad Bob, was beaten quite easily on debut and not disgraced when finishing third over the minimum trip at Thirsk last time out. David Barron has raced this filly quite sparingly so she may have had an issue or two. In a race of this nature, she will have the pace to sit handy and has each-way claims if this race turns out to be weak. She has limitations but so do most in this field.
Lou's Diamond was 50-1 but less than one length behind Mama Africa that day after leading for a long way. There may not be a great deal between this pair.
Mark Johnston has been in exceptional form this season. Celestation is an Irish-bred daughter of Excelerbration and a cheap yearling purchase 13,000G. By all accounts, this is a stable syndicate horse for Kingsley Park. Difficult to assess but could be well birthed in stall one, if getting out of the traps. I would have to take a watching brief.
Alan Swinbank has a small string of two-year-olds but a trainer I take particular note when running on their second start. Little Miss Lola was relatively fancied on debut and then ran well enough next time out at Carlisle second behind Bryan Smart's talented juvenile Alicante Dawn. That was a small field and it may well be the case this daughter of Dandy Man was flattered. She was half fancied when running for a third time at Carlisle but literally dropped in a hole after leading on good to soft going. The first two were decent performers but the rest of the field were detached and Little Miss Lola will need to show much more today.
A Bit Of Ginger looks unfancied in the betting. May be worthy of interest if well backed but best watch if weak in the market.
Conclusion: A low-class race but interesting in its own way. Trying to assess the form of a few makes difficult reading. If Rag Tatter's form can be believed this will be all about Kevin Ryan's two-year-old. The only problem is wondering if he was somehow flattered that day. On balance, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Sir Viktor is a big, strong colt who will make most of these look small. He is a progressive horse and it will be interesting if he is sent to the front or whether he has the pace to try. In these low-class affairs, it can be a strength to run on and finish a race as most go a stride too fast and pay the price in the final furlong. It may be a positive if he is slightly outpaced and finishes with zeal. I would be surprised if Sir Viktor doesn't hit the frame and hold win chances.