Runner news

We’re double handed at Carlisle on Monday with Royal Icon the first to run in the second division of the Watch Racing UK On Youview Now Handicap (2.50).

Royal Icon, who will be ridden by Tom Eaves, has been struggling for form of late and after her last run Kevin expressed the view that he might have been getting her trip wrong.

Monday’s extra three furlongs on a stiff track on very testing ground is certainly going to be a very different test to the ones Royal Icon has been facing of late and our hope is that this may show her in a much better light.

She will of course have to prove herself on very deep ground – the ground at Carlisle is currently heavy – but if she can and the trip is the catalyst that helps her back to form she could not be ruled out, for all that she clearly has a lot to prove.

The main protagonists look likely to be the in-form Sakhalian Star, who is proven on the ground and has been in very good form of late and Melanna, who takes a notable drop in class, is proven in deep ground and hit form at this sort of time last year.

Toola Boola is another proven in the forecast conditions who’ll have a good chance of being involved in the finish.

Royal Icon heads into Monday’s race with it all to prove but she breezed well on Saturday morning and if Kevin’s hunch about the trip being a help to her proves correct it’s perfectly plausible she could be involved where it matters on Monday.

Sentimental Gent, pictured above, is our second runner on the card in the following race, the Watch Racing UK Anywhere Novice Auction Stakes (3.20) over very nearly seven furlongs.

Kevin feels we’re unlikely to see the best of Sentimental Gent, who will also be ridden by Tom Eaves, till next year but also feels he’s well capable of running a much better race on Monday with the experience of Thirsk behind him.

Monday’s race will certainly be a very different test to his first run with the heavy ground a big question mark for almost all the field.

Book Of Dreams, a winner in heavy ground on debut before finishing runner-up under a penalty at Beverley last time, is arguably the horse to beat while Spray The Sea, placed on his last two starts on quick ground, boasts similar form.

Kevin also saddles Divine Intuition, who has not been at Hambleton long after having two starts for Richard Hannon to date. His owners have now moved him to Kevin and his form to date actually puts him right on the heels of Book Of Dreams. Kevin, who gelded the horse after his arrival, reports he has shown decent ability at home. That said, the ground is an unknown and as Kevin says, it’s very hard to be sure which horses are going to enjoy ground as testing as Monday’s.

In summary, there are plenty of unknowns but everything Kevin has seen at home tells him Sentimental Gent has the scope to be nice horse in time.

Whether Monday’s conditions will show him in the best light remains to be seen but we head to Carlisle in an optimistic frame of mind and, if the conditions are not a problem, hoping to see a much improved effort from Sentimental Gent.