Past Winners » Captain Colby
I was going to leave the Portland Handicap alone until Saturday morning. The ante post market is ridiculously tight, with the top 16 in the market priced up at 16/1 or lower. Also, with a safety limit of 22 and the probability of a maximum field, there is no ante post each-way angle, and it is likely that several of the main firms will be betting each-way to five places on Saturday morning.
That said, I think that it is worth backing Captain Colby now at 10/1. I think that he is one of the horses who could shorten significantly between now and Saturday.
Ed Walker’s horse has been on my radar for a while now. He put up a scintillating performance at Newmarket in May last year to win a six-furlong handicap. He set off in front at what looked like a very strong pace, you expected him to come back, but he just didn’t. At no point did it look like he would be caught, and he went on to beat Steve Prescott and Field Game by a length and a half.
He has obviously had his issues, because that was his only run in 2015, and he started off this term with a disappointing run at Newcastle on Northumberland Plate day.
He stepped forward from that next time, however, running a cracker to finish fourth in Alpha Delphini’s race at York in early July. He wasn’t fast away, he didn’t race prominently and he was caught in traffic, but he finished off his race really well to take fourth place, closest at the finish.
Raised just 2lb for that run, he was hampered and unseated his rider after they had gone a furlong at Yarmouth next time, but he showed that he was none the worse for that experience last time in a good handicap at York’s Ebor meeting, when he finished third behind Boom The Groom and Duke Of Firenze. He did really well to get as close as he did that day because, drawn 19, he raced on the near side at a track and at a meeting at which it was a significant advantage to race towards the far side.
The three horses who, with him, filled the first four places were drawn, respectively, five, two and four, and the first four were nicely clear. Also, he came about three lengths clear of the next best-placed horse on the near side, Hay Chewed, and that filly was impressive in winning a Class 3 conditions race at Leicester yesterday.
The handicapper left him on his mark of 95 for that, and that mark could under-rate him considerably. Also, he has raced just eight times in his life and effectively just twice this season, so he has lots of scope for progression. The Portland trip of five and a half furlongs is an unusual trip, but Captain Colby probably put up the best performance of his life last time at York over that exact trip.
The drying ground is in his favour, ground on the easy side of good or better would suit, and they are saying that it will be on the fast side of good by Saturday, which should be just ideal. Also, Ed Walker’s horses continue to run well, and it looks like William Buick is set to ride him on Saturday, which will be just the third time that he has ridden him – he rode him to that Newmarket victory, and he rode him again last time at York – and that is all positive. All looks set for a big run.
CAPTAIN COLBY WON (ADV 10/1, SP 6/1)