3:40 – Lingfield – BLUE SQUARE BET HANDICAP (CLASS 4) (3yo 0–85) 1m Standard
Mark Johnston normally has a good deal of winners on the all-weather through the winter months.
Last January and February he had 28 winners from just 94 runners at a winning strike rate of almost 30%. This year he has only sent out six winners from 51 runners to date at a strike rate of 11.7%. One of those winners was however Henry The Aviator who made a very impressive racecourse debut.
The three-year-old bay colt who cost 130,000 guineas at the breeze-up sales at Newmarket last April made his racecourse debut at Wolverhampton in a Class 5 Maiden Stakes over 7 furlongs. As is often the case when a horse makes its racecourse debut he was noisy in the preliminaries and he ran green in the race, so much so that he lugged left on the home straight. Despite this, he had enough talent and quality to stay on strongly inside the final furlong and was well on top by the finish, winning by 1¼ lengths.
He runs over 1 mile this afternoon and as he is closely related to the smart Star Crowned who has won at distances between 5 furlongs and 1 mile, he can be expected to see out the slightly longer trip today.
He is ridden by the ever dependable Joe Fanning who rode him on his debut and will no doubt have schooled his at Middleham since. Joe rides Lingfield well and has an especially good record with three-year-olds at the track with a 23% winning strike rate and has ridden many, many inexperienced horses for the Johnston yard.
Henry The Aviator has not been overburdened by the handicapper who has given him an initial handicap rating of 75. He runs in a six-runner race today with Rouge Nuage and King George River perhaps giving him the most to do. However, he was visually very impressive with the way he was able to win at Wolverhampton, despite his greenness and it is hoped that he has learned from his experience to win again today.