Open handicaps offer 3-yr-olds a chance to strut their stuff

With Royal Ascot finishing, there are now going to be far more handicap opportunities for three year-olds where they can take on the older horses.

At this time of the year the three year-olds tackling their elders is an interesting conundrum and one that the Classic generation generally have an advantage in the weight allowance that the younger horses receive is generous, particularly in races exceeding a mile in distance. Fans of horse racing UK should remember this.

Evidence of this advantage has already been shown, last Monday for example in both all-aged handicaps at Windsor over more than a mile, the winners were both three year-olds. In the 10F fillies' event, it should be said that the majority of the field were three year-olds, but the year older On Knee was still made the 4-1 favourite. Now the favourite ran an absolute cracker to finish third under the steadier of 10st but conceding 15lb and more to the two three-year-olds who finished first and second was ultimately beyond her.

A very similar scenario developed at Wolverhampton in their 9F handicap, this time only two of the 13 strong field were aged three, yet one of the duo Goal still managed to score for the Classic generation. The punters must have spotted the advantage that the three-year-olds have at this time of the year as Goal was backed from 11-1 into 11-2 and he duly obliged making the most of the 11lb weight-for-age he was receiving. Those following the horse racing odds would have been impressed.

If there is one trainer who has exploited these circumstances more than most then its Middleham trainer Mark Johnston and he is already busy entering his three-year-olds in all-aged handicaps over the next few days. Jeu De Vivre and Oceanway have already been successful for Johnston; in fact Oceanway was the only three-year-old in the field when scoring at Chester.

One of the Johnston three-year-olds who has consistently caught the eye this season and could well benefit from the weight-for-age advantage is Eternal Heart whose third in the Queens Vase has now seen him rise in the handicap to a mark of 95 and although he may not be rated high enough to sneak into the Ebor, he could well benefit in other all-aged handicaps in the next few weeks.


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