Thursday is market day in Ripon. Every week the Bellman rings his bell to signal the start of trading. Hence Saturday’s Ripon Bell Ringer Handicap, run over a mile and a half, celebrates this longstanding tradition. When the stalls open, the Bellman stands by the winning post and rings his bell to signal the start of the race.
For whom will the Bell Ringer toll this year?
Fourteen go to post for this year’s Ripon Bell Ringer Handicap. The key race in terms of a form guide is the Old Newton Cup at Haydock two weeks ago. Rainbow Rebel won it with three Bell Ringer contenders in arrears. Sofia’s Rock finished eighth, Atkinson Grimshaw tenth, and a hampered in running Mount Tahlen eleventh.
Rainbow Rebel went on win again six days later, landing a class 3 handicap at Chester. There he beat Aasheq, who may go off favourite for tomorrow’s Bell Ringer.
Mukhayyam was second to Aasheq at Chester at the end of June, beaten a length and a half, and is weighted to reverse the placings. Since then Mukhayyam has run three times at York, winning twice. However, he was a well-beaten fourth in class 2 company there last week.
Mark Johnston’s colt Final was second to Drill Sergeant at Newmarket last Saturday, staying on but without ever looking like winning. Bottom weight Bendalid won a class 4 race over tomorrow’s trip at Chester on 30 June but is out of the handicap. Carbon Dating has won just two of his 35 races and, with 9st 12lb to carry, looks far too high in the weights.
Strictly on the Old Newton Cup form, Mount Tahlen comes out best. Iain Jardine’s Atkinson Grimshaw was well fancied for that race, only to disappoint. He has since finished second over course and distance at Ripon last Monday. He pulled too hard in front that day, which didn’t help his cause. Providing he settles better he must stand a good chance of going one better.
Tim Easterby saddles both Aasheq and Mukhayyam and he could have the Bell Ringer forecast. Atkinson Grimshaw may chase them home.