Top Tug can rediscover the winning trail in the Sir Gordon Richards Handicap at Leicester today.
With a total prize fund of £30,000 up for grabs, a decent field of nine runners have been declared for the 2200m contest. Top Tug is yet another talented dual-purpose performer for Alan King, having shown smart form over hurdles as well as on the level.
The Elite Racing Club-owned six-year-old has run four times on the Flat so far in 2017, with an impressive victory at Goodwood sandwiched by excellent efforts in defeat at Newmarket – finishing second to the high-class Frontiersman – and Royal Ascot, where he was fourth in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. His latest effort in the Ebor at York looked too bad to be true and it soon transpired he had finished lame.
Top Tug has been given two months to recover and with cut in the ground not a major concern, is capable of claiming a sixth career success.
King brings the long-absent Chatez back to competitive action in the Hoby Handicap, but he could struggle to keep tabs on the bang-in-form top-weight London Protocol.
Karl Burke’s charge has done most of his racing in France this year, a tactic which has yielded two lucrative victories. He was particularly impressive on his latest appearance on an artificial surface at Chantilly, which can be marked down as a career-best effort.
The four-year-old has plenty on his plate as he bids to give weight and a beating to each of his nine rivals on his return to the turf, but he might just be up the job.
Wrenthorpe can make it third time lucky in the opening British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes at Redcar.
This Hellvelyn gelding shaped with abundant promise when runner-up on his Haydock introduction in late September.
That form does not amount to much, but Bryan Smart’s charge came very close to opening his account when beaten just a head by the 75-rated Nicklaus over this course and distance this month. –