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Rupert Wyman 14th Aug 2009 - 13:04

Excusez Moi to push his way to the front in the Great St Wilfrid

The William Hill Great St Wilfrid Stakes takes place at Ripon on Saturday and once again it looks like it will be one of the most competitive handicaps about.

Ripon's most valuable race gets underway at 3:55 live on Channel 4 and William Hill are proud to sponsor such a fantastic race.

Markab is the current 9/2 favourite and there is no doubting that the gelding is the form horse in the field. The six-year-old ran admirably in both the Stewards' Cup and the Wokingham Stakes finishing fourth on both occasions.

In both races he had the misfortune of a bad draw and it has struck again for this class 2 heritage handicap. The favourite, with Pat Cosgrave on board once again, will go from stall 10 as he seeks to win this big handicap.

However, he tends to hang right and high numbers are the preference in the draw as the far side is the place to be at Ripon on the sprint course. Therefore he is probably best avoided, especially at the price. It is also worth noting that the favourite has not won this since 2001.

Six of the 10 winners in the past decade have been drawn 17 or higher and three of the other winners Tajneed (2008), Excusez Moi (2006) and Smokin Beau (2004) were drawn in middle stalls before moving to the quicker far side.

The second favourite at 7/1 is 2006 winner Excusez Moi. The seven-year-old will start from stall 19 and this season, after switching to trainer Ruth Carr, he has returned to his best with three wins this year including over C&D in May. His 2006 success was achieved off a 5lb heavier mark so he should look well handicapped at 8st 11lb.

To further boost his claims the yard is in form so the 7/1 looks outstanding value and he is the pick to take the Great St Wilfrid.

Next to the second fav in the stalls will be Dandy Nicholls' Joseph Henry (14/1) who has been handed a kind draw of 20. Nicholls has a fantastic record in these types of races including winning this last year with the aforementioned Tajneed.

Nicholls' other runners in the race are Valery Borzov (12/1) drawn in stall 3 and Striking Spirit (20/1) drawn in stall 1. The former finished three lengths behind Markab at Goodwood and if it wasn't for his draw would be higher up the list.

The others that have had the luck of the draw are Ishetoo (14/1) in 18 and Advanced (14/1) in 17. Of the two Advanced looks like he has the better chance. The six-year-old ran well last time out at Newmarket finishing fourth at a big price and he should be on the premises here.

The William Hill Great St Wilfrid Stakes promises to be as thrilling as ever and to further enhance your enjoyment William Hill have a fantastic offer which gives you a £10 free forecast bet on the race. For the full details of the offer click here.

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