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Dark Horses 24th Jan

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6:30 Wolverhampton – SOUS LES ETOILES

A runner in the famous Oppenheimer colours will always draw attention and given her pedigree, there was every reason to believe that SOUS LES ETOILES would be capable of winning a maiden or a novice when she made her debut at Chelmsford last month. She finished 3rd, beaten 4-lengths by Yonafis, who has won both starts so far in his career and looks to be a very exciting prospect for William Haggas. Sous Les Etoiles raced very keenly throughout that contest, which was run at a relative crawl, and which recorded a time over 10-seconds slower than the RP standard. Her breeding would suggest that she will stay a bit further than a mile and it was very noticeable that once the pace lifted, she was much more comfortable, doing her best work in the closing stages. She is a daughter of Sea the Stars and a half-sister to 5 winners who all won over further than a mile, with her full-brother Sparkle in his Eye winning over this distance on the tapeta at Newcastle in early 2019. The extra distance and bigger field should suit and with that experience under her belt, she should go well for a yard who operate at a 16% strike rate on this surface.

1:30 Southwell – Light of Thunder

This is a particularly weak Novice stakes on the tapeta, with a distinct lack of any significant form and most of the field best described as exposed. When trying to find an angle into the race we have come across LIGHT OF THUNDER, who is having her first run for Stuart Williams, having left Clive Cox at the turn of the year. In 6 career starts, she has form figures of 576634, but all those efforts have come between 1-mile and 10-furlongs, so it is perhaps a surprise to see her entered for a 5-furlong novice on her first run for the yard. Stuart Williams has a 13% strike rate with horses he has recruited from other yards on their first start for him and her breeding does suggest that this drop in trip is at least worth a try. She is the daughter of an exceed and excel mare and is a half-sister to 3 winners, 2 of which won over a 7-furlong trip. Her Sire Night of Thunder has a 22% strike rate on the tapeta surface and backing all his runners on tapeta yields a return of +£41.40 on the tote to a £1 stake. She was last seen finishing 4th at Ffos Las in September, when she dived left at the start and did well to recover and plug on into 4th. In the context of this race, that form is relatively solid, the 2nd has won since, and the 11th placed horse has won 3 of her next 4 starts. In a race as weak as this, it won’t take a huge amount of improvement to see her go close and the change of circumstances could be just what she needs.

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