It was Baldrick who coined the phrase “Sir, I think I have come up with a cunning plan” to his master Edmund Blackadder and if there is an academy of cunning plans then there is little doubt that the astute Karl Burke graduated with first class honours.
Burke’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the form book and shrewd placing of his horse has been a godsend to his legion of owners over the years and his recent feats with We’ll Shake Hands, who runs in the the Betfred “Like Us On Facebook” Apprentice Handicap at Doncaster (5.25), has been a lesson in itself.
Not surprisingly, the fast-ground lover struggled in his earlier starts this term but, as a result his handicap mark plummeted from an opening 74 to 62 and the first opportunity he had to run on fast ground over ten furlongs at Nottingham in July saw a welcome and, not unbacked, return to winning form when he scored by a length and three quarters from Handheld in an apprentice event under Clifford Lee.
Unpenalised for that success, Burke was quick to capitalise on the situation when sending the Excellent Art gelding to a similar event at Yarmouth a week later but that race may have just come a shade too soon as he followed up by a nose from Monna Valley.
The benefit of that narrow success is that the handicapper thought fit to readjust his mark to 66 and that is still 4lb lower than when beating Exclusive Waters a neck on now defunct Flat turf course at Newcastle last June.
With a heatwave forecast the ground could well be rattling and, refreshed after an 18 day break, We’ll Shake Hands is fancied to complete the hat trick under Clifford Lee and looks well worth a 1pt investment.
Doncaster looks the place to find the winners and Soundstrings can prove hard to beat in the Betfred “1400 Shops Nationwide” Maiden Stakes. Following an uninspiring performance over seven furlongs at Doncaster at the very start of July, the Oasis Dream filly showed her true colours in fast ground over today’s trip at Yarmouth three weeks later when failing by only half a length behind the 77-rated Gale Song with the third two and a half lengths adrift.
Soundstrings can only improve further with experience and this looks a good opportunity with a 1pt win recommended. Trainer William Haggas will be hoping to double up with Fastnet Tempest in the Betfred “Racings Biggest Supporter” Handicap (4.50) but his hopes could well be dashed by Fidaawy.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained gelding was taken to Carlisle in July to break his maiden tag and earned a mark of 82 for that effort. Fidaawy’s next stop was Nottingham at the end of last month but he wasn’t given the most accomplished of rides when fourth, beaten two and three quarter lengths, to Zest. The handicapper left his mark untouched for that effort but he has flourished in his recent work and, with the Stoute team in great form looks worth putting the boat out for and is worth a 2pt investment.