Friday, 20 May 2022

Friday 20th & Saturday 21st May 2022: Take an Oath on Saturday Night

It’s a massive weekend of Group 1 action at the Curragh. The Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas take place, Native Trail looking for valuable compensation having been narrowly beaten in his Newmarket Classic.

The Tattersalls Gold Cup also takes place on Sunday, while at Haydock we see the return of Winter Power in the Temple Stakes.

We bet across Friday and Saturday, beginning at Goodwood.

Friday 20th May 2022

2.10 Goodwood (Height of Fashion – Listed Race) – ETERNAL PEARL 

Three fillies stand out in this 1m2f race. Emotion didn’t show up behind Emily Upjohn on debut, but trounced her opposition next time and is favourite here.

Sea Silk Road has a similar profile and clearly has lots of potential, but overpriced for this event is Charlie Appleby’s Eternal Pearl.

Eternal Pearl looked far from the finished article on debut at Ascot, staying on nicely late on behind the well-backed winner Grande Dame.

Both her reputation and her odds on the day suggested she should have run to a similar level to Grande Dame, that filly having since come out and run to a mark of around 100 in a Listed race at York having had trouble beforehand.

Having had a week or so more than Emotion and Sea Silk Road between races, it is very possible she can improve past them now.

2.30 Haydock (Cecil Frail Stakes – Listed Race) – FLOTUS 

There isn’t much to choose between four horses here with place chances; Illustrating, Gale Force Maya, Sense Of Duty and Nazanin who may all attract attention.

Ventura Diamond may have a better chance, at least if getting back her best but in the end, this could be all about Flotus as long as her problems are behind her.

She had excuses when dropping out tamely on her seasonal debut, but she has tons of class and speed and wouldn’t need to have improved from last year’s form to win this.

3.20 Goodwood (Cocked Hat Stakes – Listed Race) – NATURAL WORLD 

There are some interesting types in here for sure and few may well go on to be top class in the near future. Maksud and Mr Alan will need to improve, while Lysander is highly rated by his excellent trainer William Haggas.

Lysander won ever so easily at Newcastle, but it’s hard to say that he had any appreciable competition. A 20/1 shot for the Derby, Haggas still hopes to get to Epsom in a couple of weeks’ time and so a win here is required.

Aldous Huxley was an excellent debut scorer and a strong second to New London after, so with natural improvement under Frankie Dettori he too can make a big impression.

He does carry the second choice Godolphin colours however with Natural World the preferred horse for the owners, and me.

Having beaten subsequent Listed winner Ottoman Fleet on debut, Natural World was sent to the Derby Trial at Lingfield where he was third. That form is OK, but he is sure to be significantly better here and can go well with William Buick up top.

Saturday 21st May 2022

2.00 Haydock (Hell Nook Handicap) – BANDINELLI 

A competitive two-mile handicap, one in which Goobinator and Haveyoumissedme may prove popular.

I got this very close between Melrose winner Valley Forge, who should be fully race fit now, and the improver Bandinelli.

The last-named has won three times on the all-weather and twice on the turf and he’s showing no signs of stopping as he goes up in trip.

2.15 Goodwood (Festival Stakes – Listed Race) – MOVIN TIME 

This is wide open according to the betting, and I certainly thought it was very competitive too.

Victory Chime, Ad Infinitum, Al Zaraqaan, West End Charmer and Majestic Dawn will all be backed and all hold place chances you would think.

The one I like is Movin Time as the four-year-old may just improve to a higher level than the bulk of this field.

Second to the decent Rebel’s Romance on debut, he beat subsequent Queen’s Vase winner Kemari last May, was five lengths behind Mohaafeth at Royal Ascot, another five behind Lockinge runner-up Real World after that and had a pipe-opener in a handicap this season, all the while improving for each run.

3.10 Haydock (Sandy Lane Stakes – Group 2) – EL CABALLO 

Rossa Ryan is adamant that Go Bears Go is the one to beat in this race, saying during the week that he cannot understand the betting.

In fact, his horse is favourite or joint-favourite at the time of writing with El Caballo and I get things very close between those two and Wings Of War.

We scored last week with Tiber Flow who was just beaten by El Caballo at Newcastle and that form is rock-solid. Karl Burke’s three-year-old may go in again.

3.30 York (Bronte Cup – Group 3) – SILENCE PLEASE 

Believe In Love is understandably well fancied for the Roger Varian team, but frankly her form tends to take a dip when the ground gets quick which could be the case by Saturday afternoon.

She’d still be competitive at this level, as will Eileendover, however it could be Silence Please who comes out on top this time.

Placed at this level in Ireland, the mare was an unlucky loser on her debut for Andrew Balding in a Listed race at Goodwood in April, giving the impression she can still produce her very best which could be good enough.

12.01 Pimlico (Preakness Stakes – Grade 1) – SECRET OATH 

We managed to score with outstanding filly Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago and she has been undervalued and overpriced once again.

The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown, but there will be no Triple Crown champ after 80/1 Derby winner Rich Strike was not entered here.

Runner-up in the Derby, Epicenter, is a very short-priced favourite for this but the form level in the big race doesn’t match up to Secret Oath’s in my opinion, while she also gets a 5lb fillies’ allowance.

Secret Oath has been as smooth as silk so far for D Wayne Lukas and he may well be getting plenty of attention again on Saturday night.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Friday 13th & Saturday 14th May 2022: Sunray a Major Challenger in Lockinge

It’s a Group 1 weekend once again as Newbury hosts the Lockinge Stakes.

All eyes will be on Baaeed and quite rightly so, though Newbury’s two-day meeting is about far more than that. Newmarket backs up the meet very well, while York’s Dante Festival comes to a close on Friday and features Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup among others.

Friday 13th May 2022

2.25 York (Michael Seely Memorial Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – GIRL ON FILM

I couldn’t quite find a worthwhile bet in the opening juvenile fillies’ Listed race, though I thought Yahsat was interesting, but there is a value punt to be had in the second race on the Knavesmire.

This Listed event over the mile features 12 three-year-old fillies, one of which was very heavily backed to score on debut. That winner was John & Thady Gosden’s Grande Dame and she could be a warm order here.

Although she justified her shortening price and was doing it nicely at the line, she had to work fairly hard during the race and it may be that there isn’t as much improvement to come as would normally be the case with a filly from this yard.

As a value alternative I like Girl On Film. A very good winner on debut last year before contesting the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, she was a fair each-way shout for the 1000 Guineas I thought although she didn’t make it to Newmarket.

On a line through American winner Tezzaray and the likes of Jumbly and Guineas winner Cachet, who she was close to in the Rockfel, she looks more than capable of reaching a level that the others may struggle to reach.

4.10 York (Handicap) – WILD CRUSADE 

Charlie Appleby and Godolphin have two top chances here in the shape of New Comedy (Frankie Dettori) and Wild Crusade (James Doyle).

Both have won their last two races, New Comedy on the turf last time out and Wild Crusade exclusively on the all-weather, while it is Frankie’s ride who gets the first-choice blue cap.

Despite that, James Doyle would surely have been given priority and he rides the horse I get just a few pounds ahead of his stablemate.

Wild Crusade has only had four runs, won ever so easily last time and beat Derby contender Nahanni before that.

4.20 Newbury (Handicap) – INDEPENDENT ACT 

Charlie Appleby has somewhat of a stranglehold on the 4.10 at York, yet first choice rider William Buick is at Newbury and I can see why.

He has a couple of very interesting novices to ride on the card, but also has a huge chance in this closing one-mile, three-furlong handicap.

March Moon is going to be the one for money I think, but Independent Act has lots more to come having only had three runs.

He represents some form which is crucial this weekend. Fourth in a hot handicap behind Educator at the Craven Festival, he took a keen hold that day and showed some inexperience but still managed a 2¾-length fourth.

He is going the right way, as is Israr who was just ahead of him (see below), and looks more than capable of landing a Class 4 event such as this.

Saturday 14th May 2022

1.35 Newbury (Carnarvon Stakes – Listed Race) – TIBER FLOW 

The first five races at Newbury are fantastic, all for different reasons, beginning with this competitive Listed sprint for three-year-olds.

Some of the trainers involved here will have an eye on the Commonwealth Cup next month and the one I like to prep perfectly for that is William Haggas’s Tiber Flow.

I liked his chances of remaining unbeaten at Newcastle on All-Weather Championships Finals Day and while he was ultimately narrowly beaten there, he continued his improvement.

That’s a slower track and yet he’s shown some great speed on the Tapeta surfaces. I fancy he can cut loose a little more here and see off the challenges of Hierarchy and Cadamosto under Tom Marquand.

2.10 Newbury (Al Rayyan Stakes – Group 3) – ESHAADA 

Eshaada is heavily penalised for last autumn’s Group 1 win on Champions Day, but she’s a proper filly and she can begin this campaign the right way.

Roger Varian’s four-year-old has some real star quality about her and the team may be thinking about the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the year for her.

At the weights Foxes Tales and Without A Fight have a chance, Ilaraab will be fancied too, but it’s Jim Crowley’s mount who gets the nod.

2.45 Newbury (London Gold Cup Handicap) – ISRAR 

This is a hugely competitive three-year-old handicap on the face of it, but as explained above I love the form of the race Israr took part in at Newmarket and he wasn’t at his best there either.

Improving plenty overall, the Gosden runner was slowly away and got himself unbalanced in the Dip at a crucial time at HQ, though things should be more straightforward here and he has that valuable experience under his belt too.

He’s not been touched by the handicapper which is crucial and he may prove to be the best of this bunch. Red Vineyard and Surrey Mist were next on the list.

3.20 Newbury (Lockinge Stakes – Group 1) – SUNRAY MAJOR (place) 

This race is all about the exceptional Baaeed and it would be great for racing if he took the contest apart.

That may or may not happen, but at the prices listed on Thursday we could claim between 5/1 and 7/1 for a first three place on Sunray Major and that’s the call.

Although a five-year-old now, he’s improving and maybe needed his seasonal debut. He was heading the right way last season when winning at Chelmsford and Ascot and can get to the level shown by the likes of Real World, Mother Earth and Alcohol Free which makes his place odds look silly.

4.30 Newbury (Fillies’ Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – MUKADDAMAH 

Nashwa was a good winner three weeks ago for the Gosdens and she’s had her form advertised well by a stablemate since.

A chance is taken however on Roger Varian’s Mukaddamah who ran to a similar level behind the aforementioned Grande Dame last time out, giving that one 5lbs.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Friday 6th & Saturday 7th May 2022 - One to Rule in Victoria Cup

What a fantastic weekend of racing action we have in store. Chester’s May meeting finishes up on Friday, while Ascot race over both days.

There is a nice mixed card at Haydock featuring the Swinton Hurdle and the Spring Trophy and over at Lingfield they host the Derby and Oaks trials along with another Group 3.

In the States, Churchill Downs boasts a ton of graded action headlined by the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Friday 6th May 2022

3.45 Chester (Conditions Stakes) – KING’S LYNN 

This is a five-furlong conditions race that could easily be a Listed contest. In it, a number of them carry penalties making the 6lb extra King’s Lynn shoulders look not too bad.

Andrew Balding’s five-year-old showed some great form last year. A Listed winner at Haydock, the Queen’s runner was then a staying-on seventh in the King’s Stand before turning out quickly to finish a close third in the Wokingham.

He finished his year with a strong Listed win at Doncaster and he seems certain to go for glory at the top level soon. He’s also drawn ideally in stall one.

Plenty will be expected of young contender Flaming Rib at what is now Hugo Palmer’s home track, though he is similarly penalised and may struggle. Acklam Express is best of the rest.

5.40 Ascot (Handicap) – KHATHIK 

Ascot’s Friday closer is a competitive-looking straight mile handicap and it may turn out that Khathik is ideally drawn to take advantage of what I think is a lenient handicap mark.

William Buick’s mount was good when winning on debut at Kempton over the winter, but perhaps didn’t fully appreciate things being slower at Newcastle and Southwell.

On the turf he can reach a new level and looks well in, with Duelist, Court Of Session and Paradias also expected to go well.

9.04 Churchill Downs (Eight Belles Stakes – Grade 2) – MATAREYA 

Godolphin’s Matareya was well backed for the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes last autumn, with an eye on the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Oaks.

That didn’t work out, but they went down in trip to find the key with her. This year, she has demolished fields over six and seven furlongs, this race being run over the latter, and she could be much the best filly in this line up.

10.51 Churchill Downs (Kentucky Oaks – Grade 1) – SECRET OATH 

We landed this $1.25 million race last year with Malathaat and can hopefully repeat the trick.

The one with the best recent form according to many is Nest and it would be no surprise if she won this to be fair. She’s not unbeatable though and on a line through those she’s beaten, my original fancy looks better placed to win. That filly is Secret Oath for the super combination of D Wayne Lukas and Luis Saez.

After racking up a hat-trick by winning a Grade 3 ever so easily at Oaklawn in February, Secret Oath was thrown in against the boys in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and in fact she went off a hot favourite.

She suffered a horrible trip there, but still managed third behind Derby hope Cyberknife. She’s now had a change of jockey which counts for plenty.

In December she beat Matareya by some 8¼ lengths, while Yuugiri was more than 9 lengths behind her at Oaklawn. Yuugiri won well in Grade 3 company when last seen and is in opposition again here.

Saturday 7th May 2022

2.20 Ascot (Buckhounds Stakes – Listed Race) – MANDOOB 

Al Aasy runs here, his defection from Chester changing the odds and stopping me from backing Megallan in the Huxley. Stowell undoubtedly has a race like this in him too, but Mandoob is a silly price.

Still with Brian Meehan although no longer owned by Shadwell, Mandoob has some classy form. He beat Marshall Plan and Princess Nadia in his first races before chasing home the excellent Yibir.

He’s been off a while, but he’s had a breathing op and his team have been waiting for the right conditions considering he was entered at Chester during the week.

4.05 Ascot (Victoria Cup Handicap) – ONE RULER 

After a fine juvenile campaign that led to an Autumn Stakes win, like Coroebus, and a close second to McSwiney in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity, One Ruler was once Godolphin’s top prospect.

In fact, on the gallops last spring he was thought of as still their no.1 ahead of 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas.

Things didn’t work out for him as a three-year-old but he did take in the Guineas, the Derby and Royal Ascot and Charlie Appleby has not lost faith.

Back in January he was a very good third to Real World, rated 118, with subsequent Group 1 winner Alfareeq between the pair and clearly, he is getting back to his best.

The Dubawi’s can often get quicker as they get older with this stiff seven furlongs looking perfect now. Darkness is next on the list.

4.40 Ascot (Fillies’ Handicap) – AFTER THE RAIN 

After The Rain was tough and determined in winning her second race at Windsor four weeks ago and she is clearly still improving.

This is not a particularly strong race, while we all know now that Harry Davies is value for a fair few of the 7lbs he claims which will also help.

11.57 Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby – Grade 1) – TIZ THE BOMB 

Tiz The Bomb is trading at around 25/1 for the Kentucky Derby but he has some rock-solid form and I have a theory regarding the Tapeta surface that we can play on at these inflated odds.

Tapeta tends to ride slower meaning races on it, especially where clock-watchers are concerned, are often marked down and should really be upgraded for handicapping purposes.

As we’ve seen at Newcastle with the likes of Stradivarius, Without Parole, Enable and plenty of Charlie Appleby horses, they tend to come out strong having raced on this surface and it could be the case with our Derby horse too.

Tiz The Bomb was actually a fine second to Modern Games in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the horse who is now favourite for the French 2000 Guineas, before a change of ownership led to a change of tactics.

Flying under the radar somewhat, Ken McPeek’s colt has won two races on Tapeta very easily this spring at Turfway Park and comes into this as an outsider in most people’s eyes.

In truth his form is excellent and must be upgraded. He’s drawn in gate 9 which is ideal and has everything needed to put in a massive run.

Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter must be feared, Messier may yet turn around Santa Anita Derby form with Taiba, with White Abarrio, Zandon and Charge It all also capable of big runs.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Friday 29th & Saturday 30th April 2022: Native Not to Be Pushed off Guineas Trail

It’s Guineas weekend at Newmarket and time for Native Trail to meet his destiny.

HQ hosts three excellent days of racing, though terrific support comes from Goodwood and Newcastle. We have runners across all three days, including a value selection in Sunday’s fillies’ Classic.

Friday 29th April 2022

1.30 Goodwood (Conditions Stakes) – AL MUBHIR

A potentially trappy four-runner race to kick off with, but one in which Al Mubhir may be second or even third favourite which means some value is definitely on offer.

William Haggas’ colt won very well on debut, beaten several subsequent winners. Based on what they have achieved relative to him he should be too good at this level.

Al Mubhir was in the in the Craven and the Guineas, Tom Marquand in fact having said he was very excited by him. I hope Tuscan takes out a chunk of the market leaving us with a nice price.

3.15 Goodwood (Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – SAVE A FOREST

With the exception of Crystal Starlet, all of the fillies in this race are returning from long breaks. While Glenartney, Silence Please and Bartzella may all have good seasons, Save A Forest looks the pick.

Roger Varian’s filly won three races as a three-year-old, including at Listed level, and was fourth in the Oaks too. She very much looks the type who will peak this year and she might be too good for this field.

6.10 Newcastle (Handicap) – PETER THE GREAT

Frankie Dettori is at Newcastle on Friday night and he gets to ride the last two winners of the Wood Ditton Stakes, including Peter The Great.

After winning at Newmarket last year, you could say Anthony Oppenheimer’s son of New Approach didn’t go on as well as had been hoped, but his best subsequent form was at Newcastle and he has no doubt matured significantly now.

Race Night at Cheltenham

It's also race night at Cheltenham on Friday. I've covered every race over on my dedicated Cheltenham site

Saturday 30th April 2022

2.25 Newmarket (Suffolk Handicap) – DHAHABI 

This handicap race is run over the Cambridgeshire course and distance and in fact is only worth about £20,000 less, so keep an eye on the form.

Recent winner Fast Medicine is officially well in and could improve, but Dhahabi was a very expensive buy and was set for top honours before hitting a problem last year.

He returns before perhaps heading right to the top table. The half brother to Golden Horn has close form with the likes of One Ruler, Megallan and Van Gogh on unsuitable ground and should be more than capable of winning a handicap.

He showed plenty of speed to win over seven furlongs on good to firm ground on debut and this could be perfect for him. He’s in at Royal Ascot too so plenty is expected.

There is one demonstrably well-handicapped horse in against him of course, but at the odds we can take a chance.

3.00 Newmarket (Palace House Stakes – Group 3) – CAME FROM THE DARK 

Twilight Calls has been all the rage this week but I can’t help thinking he’s not quite there yet. Hurricane Ivor was a revelation last year but returns with a penalty, while Tis Marvellous retains ability and can go close.

The vote however goes to Came From The Dark who went from strength to strength last season, beating Garrus and Arecibo as well as going down by just a neck to Lazuli and that is excellent form.

3.40 Newmarket (2000 Guineas – Group 1) – NATIVE TRAIL 

Native Trail doesn’t come into the 2000 Guineas with quite the same reputation or ability that Frankel had, but he’s the best since the main man and he really should win this.

The brilliant National Stakes and Dewhurst winner did exactly what was required of him in the Craven earlier this month and he looks primed to win what would be Charlie Appleby’s first 2000 Guineas.

Appleby commented after the Craven that he weighs more than 540kg, the same weight as stable beasts Adayar and Hurricane Lane, while his stride length is also some 27 feet which is way above average.

These things, as well as his Craven win, should already quash the winter murmurings of him not staying in the mile, in fact he looks sure to get further and doesn’t really get racing at Newmarket until they hit the Dip.

Of course, I won’t be backing him in a single, he’s simply too short a price, but he couldn’t go without a huge mention here and I really hope above anything else that he does the business and in style under William Buick.

Recent renewals of the 2000 Guineas have suggested that then near side is very much favoured and Native Trail is drawn 15 of 15, ideal if he doesn’t get into traffic problems, though it must be said there is greater speed on the far side.

Richard Fahey is worried about Perfect Power not settling and we know he has tons of pace, he’s in stall 3, while Godolphin’s second strong and second-best on my list Coroebus is in gate 1. Charlie Appleby thinks that Coroebus can now race “the right way round” and if this is true, the far side pace may set things up nicely for him.

Group 1 winner Luxembourg is also on the far side in 4 and can make his mark, while Dubawi Legend shouldn’t be overlooked and nor should recent Burradon Stakes winner Checkandchallenge. Point Lonsdale has already been well beaten by Native Trail and will challenge him on the stands side.

4.50 Newmarket (Handicap) – KING OF TIME 

Razzle Dazzle is back from a break and should prove to be better than a 94 horse, while Private Signal did well last time for Godolphin and was reported to have had ringworm.

Will Buick has chosen to ride King Of Time instead of Private Signal, and that looks a wise move to me. Twice a winner on the all-weather, he’s done things with ease so far and looks very well handicapped indeed.

Sunday 1st May 2022

3.40 Newmarket (1000 Guineas – Group 1) – WILD BEAUTY

There may yet be a stunning Guineas double for Charlie Appleby and at a nice price.

His Wild Beauty has been overlooked somewhat for the 1000 Guineas based on the form and the time of her win at Newbury but that seems short sighted to me.

Yes, the time suggested the Fred Darling form was way below that of then Greenham won by Perfect Power, but she battled nicely to win there and was pulling away, her trainer simply commenting that the return to a mile will be very much in her favour.

What is more prevalent is her North American form from last year. In a Grade 1 in Canada, she was left at the start, but came right round a talented field and won with something in hand.

She should have gone to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf but instead took on Inspiral at Newmarket. That race was too soon for her and not in her best conditions, so is best forgotten.

The filly she took care of in Canada duly won easily at the Breeders’ Cup, in turn beating a number of the better British fillies and that form is about the best on offer in terms of the confirmed milers in this contest.

In the absence of Inspiral Aidan O’Brien’s Tenebrism is a hot favourite. She won the Cheveley Park Stakes last year from Flotus, who may well have won at this meeting before this race goes off, but she may very well not see out the mile.

French filly Malavath probably wants these faster conditions and is full of class, while Discoveries is also noteworthy.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd April 2022: Mutasaabeq Back on Track

Sandown’s mixed two-day meeting gets going on Friday and features the Gordon Richards Stakes.

Unfortunately, just the three runners have been attracted but they’re all quality and the event should be watched. I thought Mostahdaf was a proper Group 1 horse and he can prove that this year – he’s the market leader.

On Saturday we stick with the Flat despite Sandown’s jumps finale, on a weekend during which yet more Classic contenders should make themselves known.

Friday 22nd April 2022

1.50 Sandown (Esher Cup Handicap) – BLUE TRAIL 

A competitive race, as the Esher Cup usually is, but we simply cannot ignore the form of Blue Trail at the head of the market, nor that of his red-hot trainer Charlie Appleby.

Having only made his debut on the all-weather in January the Teofilo offspring has already improved plenty. Second on his first start, Blue Trail has gone on to win easily at Southwell before then holding off Harrow and Find in a valuable conditions race at Kempton.

I feel as though he’s itching for the turf now, he’s drawn well, was very solid before his latest run and will see it out up the Sandown straight much better than many in this line-up under top jock William Buick.

Find reopposes and also holds solid place chances, while Wanees makes his seasonal debut as a horse who has won on both fast and deep ground as a novice.

3.00 Sandown (bet365 Mile – Group 2) – MUTASAABEQ

After he won ever so easily during the Craven meeting last year, I genuinely fancied Mutasaabeq against the big guns in the 2000 Guineas.

He was a solid if unspectacular seventh in the Classic before failing on the heavy ground in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He won easily in a small race at Haydock next time and was impressive on unsuitable ground at Thirsk on his seasonal debut two weeks ago and now he can prove he’s ready for the big time. If he puts it all together, he can prove he is top class.

The likely short-priced favourite is the Cheveley Park, Fred Darling, Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes heroine Alcohol Free and she deserves that place in the market.

In these conditions and on her seasonal bow, I do feel that she may be some way short of her best and at the odds I’m willing to take a chance on that.

Sunray Major was a big improver and may belatedly get to the top, while Lights On is surely better on soft and Lincoln winner Johan may just be outclassed.

3.35 Sandown (Classic Trial – Group 3) – GOLDSPUR

Last year’s renewal of the Classic Trial was a belter, at least with the benefit of hindsight anyway.

Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and Will Buick’s Goldspur is being quoted at short prices for this race but his odds reflect his rock-solid form as well as that of the team overall and he looks a real Derby contender.

Extremely impressive on debut here last September, Goldspur went on to upset teammate Hafit in the Group 3 Zetland Stakes by utilising his excellent stamina.

Thrown into a Group 1 in France exactly two weeks later, there was always a danger that the race would come too soon and indeed he was very narrowly beaten at Saint-Cloud.

Based on what was expected of him in France as the 7/5 favourite and with just normal progression, he should reach a level here that makes him too good for the opposition and we know he’ll see this out well.

Franz Strauss won at Newcastle on debut in a race that should be upgraded, certainly his form with impressive Feilden Stakes winner Eydon makes him look overpriced, while fellow Gosden horse Frantastic is an unknown quantity.

Aidan O’Brien sends impressive maiden winner River Thames over, but even based on expected progression and the subsequent form of the runner-up from his first win he may just be one rung below Goldspur on the ladder at this stage.

Saturday 23rd April 2022

2.40 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – WONDERFUL TIMES 

John and Thady Gosden send debutant Wonderful Times up to Haydock for this novice race and she is the only unraced filly in the line-up.

Normandie Stud’s representative is a beautifully bred Golden Horn/Galileo cross and there should be plenty expected of her now she’s ready to rock.

Looking at the opposition and taking into account Love Interest’s 7lb penalty, Wonderful Times will probably need to run to a mark somewhere in the early 80’s to win which surely the team would expect given her profile.

3.45 Haydock (Handicap) – KINGMANIA

Newmarket trainer Chris Wall sends Kingmania here and the 4yo Kingman filly hasn’t run for 287 days.

She is way ahead however on my private adjusted speed ratings, so if speed is important today then she looks good and can afford to be a few pounds below her best. Jack Mitchell is riding well, too.

3.51 Leicester (Novice Stakes) – RULING DYNASTY

This could turn out to be a high-quality novice race and should be watched closely.

If I’m right about the chance of Wonderful Times, then it speaks volumes that Frankie Dettori comes to Leicester instead of going to Haydock to ride her.

His mount here, one of two on the card for owner Bjorn Neilsen, is Magisterial and the Derby entrant has some experience having raced twice as a juvenile.

Though he could improve markedly, given his 7lb penalty and the form of those he’s beaten it may just take a performance somewhere in the early 90’s to beat him and that is something I feel Godolphin’s Ruling Dynasty can do on debut.

We know Charlie Appleby can get them ready first time. In fact, most of his juveniles run consistently to marks in the mid-80’s on their first run so as a three-year-old in late April and given the stonking form of the stable, the required level looks to be within Ruling Dynasty’s grasp.

He is in the Derby too of course and could add to the team’s growing Classic contender list, while William Buick is on hand to take the ride.

Friday, 15 April 2022

Friday 15th & Saturday 16th April 2022: Go With the Tiber Flow on Good Friday

Another bumper weekend and a very busy one for us from a punting point of view.

Friday is all about the all-weather, in fact Newcastle makes its debut as the host of the £1 million All-Weather Championships Finals Day.

On Saturday, Newbury hosts the Spring Cup as well as three Group 3 races, though we have no bet in a close Greenham Stakes.

It’s close too in Newcastle’s opening Listed Burradon Stakes in which Dubai Poet can put it up to Imperial Fighter, but we have selections in all of their other races beginning with the Mile.

Friday 15th April 2022

2.00 Newcastle (All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes) – AMILCAR 

After winning at Southwell on this Tapeta surface and then finishing just 4½ lengths behind Lord North in a Group 1 race, William Haggas’ My Oberon should be all the rage on track. He’s undoubtedly good, but he remains vulnerable in what is a quality race worth £150,000. 

Roger Varian could be on for a good day and his La Tihaty won four in a row on the all-weather earlier in the year, but he wasn’t as good on this sort of surface last time.

The French raider Amilcar presents the most value. A winner at Deauville in December, he’s improving and was unlucky at Wolverhampton last time out. He should have no such trouble this time and he wants this stiff mile too.

2.35 Newcastle (All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes) – BOUTTEMONT 

At 4/1 or bigger the field, the sprint race has the look of a typical Saturday handicap about it at a glance.

While familiar names such as Harry’s Bar, Ejtilaab, Soldier’s Minute, Edraak and Venturous could all make their presence felt, this could be another one for the French.

Already in good form, the four-year-old Bouttemont took a big step forward when winning at Chantilly five weeks ago and the form of the race is solid. He stayed on beautifully over 6½ furlongs there so this surface, and the stiff nature of the track, should be ideal for Gregory Benoist and his mount.

3.10 Newcastle (3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes) – TIBER FLOW 

Over the same six-furlong course is the three-year-old’s race, though this one looks less competitive. Kaboo retains ability, Annaf could be decent and Space Cowboy is an each-way play.

El Caballo will be the one for money after winning four in a row, including one at Newcastle, but Tiber Flow is the one that caught the eye most.

Unbeaten in three races for William Haggas, the Caravaggio colt has won over six and seven furlongs at Newcastle and hosed up last time at Wolverhampton. Tom Marquand is on board.

3.45 Newcastle (All-Weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes) – INTERNATIONALANGEL

John Quinn’s Highfield Princess is a smashing type. She’s tough, handles this surface and has a Listed success over Wednesday’s Abernant winner Double Or Bubble under her name.

As consistent as she is, she is passed over here in favour of Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Internationalangel. The five-year-old mare was a very good winner over this course and distance two outings ago, winning her sixth race in a row.

If she’s still fit and fresh, she may have too much here ahead of the favourite and Arousing for Hollie Doyle.

3.55 Chelmsford (Handicap) – TRAWLERMAN 

We nip down to Chelmsford for one race, their decent Class 2 mile-a-quarter handicap.

Inigo Jones is bound to improve this year, Group One Power is overpriced and U S S Michigan has solid recent form.

Godolphin’s Trawlerman however, trained by the Gosdens, started his three-year-old career in emphatic fashion last year. He was then sent into what was a very hot Classic Trial at Sandown, a race in which he was just 11/2 alongside the likes of Alenquer, Yibir, Adayar and Lone Eagle.

He’s had time off, but he’s clearly way better than a 93 horse and can prove it here.

4.15 Newcastle (All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes) – MARSHALL PLAN 

Despite Trawlerman’s very obvious chances at Chelmsford, Frankie Dettori heads to Newcastle to ride Marshall Plan who is another for Godolphin who has always been well thought of.

He’s finished behind some really nice types, but for me he’s done it on the wrong surface. He was excellent in his sole win at Wolverhampton on the Tapeta, found the pace too strong and didn’t enjoy a great trip at Newcastle last summer and so will love the return to this surface as well as the extended two-mile trip.

Earlofthecotswolds is good but may prefer it elsewhere, Sleeping Lion should be favourite and Rainbow Dreamer is another in with a shot.

4.45 Newcastle (Easter Classic) – AL ZARAQAAN 

The £200,000 Easter Classic over 1¼ miles is all about Roger Varian’s Tyrrhenian Sea according to the betting.

He won three times in a row at Newcastle before being a very unlucky loser at Kempton, so returning here in a conditions race really does make him look rock solid.

Al Zaraqaan once upon a time had a similar profile. He did his winning elsewhere for William Haggas, but his debut this year for Archie Watson was right here and it was excellent.

He was thought of as a Winter Derby horse and while that didn’t work out, he’s not finished yet. He remains lightly raced, this is his trip, this is also his best surface to my mind and he’s way overpriced. Hollie Doyle rides.

Saturday 16th April 2022

1.50 Newbury (John Porter Stakes – Group 3) – STOWELL 

A very nice race. Thunderous is solid, Ilaraab’s chances are obvious and Raymond Tusk will get plenty of support. John & Thady Gosden’s Stowell however will prove to be the best of them in time, hopefully immediately.

An excellent and slightly unlucky third to Kemari at Royal Ascot last year, he stays very well but has plenty of class too so if he is 100% after his enforced break, he can get home under a familiarly classy Frankie Dettori ride.

2.25 Newbury (Fred Darling Stakes – Group 3) – WILD BEAUTY

A proper trial for the 1000 Guineas and perhaps another big win for Charlie Appleby, William Buick and Godolphin.

Having been left behind at the start, Wild Beauty was excellent in winning her Grade 1 in North America last year and she really should have gone to the Breeders’ Cup rather than coming back quickly to tackle Inspiral in the Fillies’ Mile.

This is more her bag, the trip is fine and she may take some beating despite the presence of Jumbly, Miss Carol Ann, Majestic Glory and the potential star Shaara.

Friday, 8 April 2022

Friday 8th & Saturday 9th April 2022: Mount Up for a Grand National Belter

The Grand National is now upon us. Britain’s most famous race, and the country’s biggest betting event too, is run at Aintree on Saturday and we have a keenly priced selection in the big one along with plenty of other information for Friday and Saturday.

Friday 8th April 2022

1.45 Aintree (Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – LANGER DAN

Dan Skelton’s Langer Dan was backed off the boards for the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival and he was desperately unlucky there to be brought down at the second hurdle.

He’s been readied superbly to win a valuable handicap and this could prove to be great compensation gained while he is still fresh.

He had a similar prep last season before winning the Imperial Cup and finishing second in the Martin Pipe, and I reckon that he remains better handicapped than main rivals Cobblers Dream and Speech Bubble.

5.25 Kempton (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes) – TIMELESS MELODY

There are a couple of interesting newcomers here, so do watch out for any significant money for John and Thady Gosden’s Glorious Romance or William Haggas’ Hello Jumeirah.

Delphinus brings the best form into the race on paper, but there should be a lot more to come from Charlie Appleby’s Timeless Melody and she is the selection in this 1m3f contest.

Appleby saddled three in a one-mile fillies’ novice at Newcastle back in February, the trio finishing second, third and fourth in the correct order according to the betting.

Timeless Melody was the last of those, losing a couple of places late on, but the form of the others has been more than a little encouraging since then. The daughter of Teofilo has been given plenty of time and Will Buick is on hand to guide her round, his only mount of the day.

Saturday 9th April 2022

2.25 Aintree (Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – WALKING ON AIR

Nicky Henderson’s Epatante simply cruised into the race over 2m4f on Thursday around here, and now it’s hoped that a stablemate at the other end of his career can do the same.

Walking On Air can’t match the experience of Stage Star, Three Stripe Life or North Lodge, but boy is there some talent there.

The five-year-old has had only one bumper and one hurdle start to date, the latter culminating in a completely facile win at Newbury.

He had any amount in hand, in reality probably running to about 20-25lbs better than a horse who has since won and is rated 122. That puts Walking On Air close to the 150-mark potentially, something only Three Stripe Life can match though I reckon the younger horse can improve past him now.

3.35 Aintree (Liverpool Hurdle – Grade 1) – THYME HILL 

Champ is probably just going a little backwards now and this race could be down to the Cheltenham Festival 1-2 from the Stayers’ Hurdle; Flooring Porter and Thyme Hill. Flooring Porter did what he does that day, but benefitted from a fantastic ride from Danny Mullins.

Aintree is very different though and it should suit last year’s winner Thyme Hill. Philip Hobbs’ star is still improving and can turn the tables on Flooring Porter.

5.15 Aintree (Grand National – Grade 3) – MOUNT IDA 

You don’t have to be a fan of Gordon Elliott to appreciate how good he is with these big staying races, or how lucky he is to have so many such types to choose from which may equally be the case.

There may be no Tiger Roll now, but Elliott’s yard still has several in with a serious chance this year including Escaria Ten and Run Wild Fred. I like those two, but the one I like best is Mount Ida.

There’s been a lot of talk about mares and their ability, or perceived inability, to win this race. As it happens, I also like the mare Snow Leopardess who should go off favourite for this race but in a strange twist she isn’t the mare I like most!

Mount Ida may be better handicapped, despite carrying 11-5. Unplaced only once in chase races, the daughter of Yeats has been running over shorter distances which is just good prep, although she won the 3m2f Kim Muir easily at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and is a near certain stayer.

Any Second Now is another to consider along with the previously mentioned runners, but in this extraordinary race you could do worse at the odds than use Mount Ida in your various win, each-way and perhaps exotic bets.

9.45 Aqueduct (Wood Memorial Stakes – Grade 2) – MORELLO 

The last three races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby are run this weekend, perhaps the strongest three in fact.

Over in California, Messier and Forbidden Kingdom renew rivalry in the Santa Anita Derby. They boast the strongest form so far and in taking each other on again at Grade 1 level will have to put it all in. Whoever wins will likely be favourite for Churchill Downs on May 7, but won’t have much if any improvement to come.

In Kentucky, Keeneland hosts the Blue Grass Stakes. Smile Happy is favourite for that one but has been drawn wide. He may or may not get the better of Emmanuel, with a win for Smile Happy in this Grade 1 probably just seeing Epicenter’s odds shrink further at the top of the market.

We stick with New York and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct. If I were forced to back a horse in the Kentucky Derby now, it would be Morello.

Bred for the job by Classic Empire, Steve Asmussen’s colt was a facile winner of the Gotham Stakes over a mile back in March.

He hardly broke a sweat that day meaning, unlike so many others on the trail, he has plenty more to give and it’s clear that they think plenty of him at home.

Mo Donegal and Early Voting feature fairly highly in the Derby betting, but aren’t in the same league as Morello on a level playing field and I reckon it’s Jose Lezcano’s mount who makes a bold claim for the Run for the Roses on Saturday.