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The Betway Handicap is the feature at Wolverhampton today and the 11-runner field has attracted a decent field.

Mark Johnston will be hoping that ISHARAH can continue his hot streak. The son of Kitten's Joy tops BTO+ ratings heading into the affair and bids to land a four-timer. Isharah has come into his own on the all-weather during the winter, climbing up the handicap by 15 pounds and he still looks to be on an upward curve. His first victory during the winter came at Newcastle last December where the horse showed a game attitude in the closing stages of the contest to score by a neck. That win gave the gelding plenty of confidence and he made it back-to-back wins, this time stepping up to two miles at Newcastle. Although he'd never raced over the trip, Isharah relished the competition and he ran out an eye-catching one-and-a-quarter length winner.

Dropping back down in trip last time to one-and-a-half miles at Southwell, Johnston's charge again displayed his likable attitude as he stuck on to score by a short head. Ishrahah doesn't know when he is beaten, which is a quality every trainer desires in their horse and, despite being put up to 92 by the handicapper, Ishrahah still looks capable of running a big race. He steps back to two miles, but has shown he's capable of winning at the trip and jockey Joe Fanning brags a 26% better than expected record over the distance.

Despite being a six-year-old, BARON FLYER has had just the three runs on the Flat and is still open to improvement. Ian Williams' charge is rated 133 over hurdles and won in Class Two company at Warwick during the summer. Connections are opting to run the son of Byron on the Polytrack during the winter and he has given a positive account of himself on each occasion. Baron Flyer broke his maiden on the Flat on the first time of asking at Lingfield over 12 months ago before finished fourth at Epsom last September. But, Baron Flyer was back amongst the winners last time at Lingfield where he couldn't have been more impressive. Carrying top weight, the gelding sat just off the pace before showing a sharp turn of foot in the final furlong to leave the opposition for dead and win by four lengths. Having gone up seven pounds for the effort, Luke Morris will likely look to put Baron Flyer's wicked acceleration to good use in the closing stages again and Williams boasts a 52% better than expected strike-rate at Wolverhampton.

CALVANIST is still an unexposed four-year-old who warrants respect. The son of Holy Roman Empire was highly regarded enough to run in a Listed affair as a juvenile and had just the two runs last year. Calvanist needed the run at Sandown last September when coming off a break of almost a year but made amends at York a month later. The gelding was given a well-timed ride by Kieran Fox and Calvanist got the better of Master Blueyes by a neck. Having now moved to Archie Watson's yard for £85,000 from Brian Meehan, the gelding has been raised five pounds but that shouldn't be too much of a hindrance. Calvanist will come into the race plenty fresh and connections have shrewdly booked Oisin Murphy to ride, who has a 12% better than expected record on last time out winners.

OCEANE put in a rare disappointing run last time. Alan King's five-year-old is usually a tough, consistent sort who is there or there abouts for the most part. Having won a valuable contest at York in August, the son of Kentucky Dynamite was then well fancied for the Cesarewitch Trial Stakes at Newmarket last September but he finished well down the field. Nonetheless, Oceane has been given plenty of time to recover from that effort and King has a 60% better than expected record with his break returners. But, Oceane also has decent form over hurdles and this may be a warm-up before he runs in a big race over timber in the spring.

GANG WARFARE came alive this time last year and connections will be hoping for a repeat this time around. The son of Medicean racked up a double at Southwell and Wolverhampton respectively but then struggled to be competitive over the summer when racing off 104. But, the handicapper has dropped Gang Warfare to 96, one pound higher than his last win and if the gelding can recapture his form, he could be in the mix.

Article Posted on Wednesday 15th February 2017 @ 10.44

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