There is some top action at Haydock Park this weekend, where short-priced favourite Veracious and Global Giant are rock-solid in the Dick Hern Stakes and Rose of Lancaster Stakes respectively.
However, in terms of grabbing some good value, we are concentrating on two races each from Ascot and Newmarket where the early odds offered by layers simply don’t seem to give enough credit to a quartet of horses who should go very well in the forecast fast conditions.
1.15 Ascot (Nursery Handicap) – LINE OF DEPARTURE
It could be an excellent start to the day for us, as long as Roger Varian’s experienced Line Of Departure can prove to be ahead well handicapped.
I do think that’s the case for the son of Mehmas, one who has been out four times already but hasn’t had an overly hard time.
He has close form with Alkumait, a good Glorious Goodwood winner who now looks like a Group horse, and his easy win last time in a small race made it appear that a mark of 79 would not be accurate so it appears he is ahead of the assessors.
Challenging him in the market should be Jadwal who also looks solid, with the two appearing to be clear of First Prophet and Et Tu Brute who has form with Jadwal from Newmarket.
2.25 Ascot (Handicap) – GAME PLAYER
The draw once again shouldn’t be an issue here on the straight course for this one-mile handicap, as only ten line up and not all have a winning chance.
Former Sheikh Hamdan horse Ejtilaab is perhaps overpriced while Shelir can go well again here for the David O’Meara yard.
The likely favourite is Godolphin’s Jalaad, trained by the resurgent Saeed bin Suroor. A winner last time at York, he is no doubt in great form but the flat track there is different to what he’ll face here and he had to put in a proper shift to get the job done, meaning he doesn’t have loads in hand and his 5lb rise in the weights could be enough to anchor him.
The interesting one is the returning five-year-old of Roger Varian’s, Game Player. Based on modern training techniques, Varian’s past and the horse’s own profile I’d have little worries about this son of Dark Angel being at his best after a long break.
If he is, then he has weight in hand here even off 95 based on his improving performances at Lingfield, Goodwood and Ayr last term, especially given that he was blocked in his run twice.
Assuming no traffic problems this time, we should see a mature horse quickly reaching his peak this summer and with that could come another win for Andrea Atzeni and this time at a very nice price.
3.20 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – DANILOVA
Off to the July Course at HQ now and a nice-looking renewal of the Sweet Solera. It’s understandable that Richard Hannon’s first-time-out winner Fly Miss Helen is put up as favourite having been well backed to score from Sarsparilla at Newbury on debut.
The form of the race is OK, perhaps nothing special, and while it remains possible for Fly Miss Helen to improve we know that from this yard they can be fully ready first time out (this one was, hence the odds) meaning less progression to come than the price here would suggest.
Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain is solid after three runs but it is germane that she put up her best show on very different ground to this, while Setarhe could be a little behind the main trio.
The value in the race is Charlie Appleby’s Danilova who has a very bright future indeed. Having been given a handicap mark she is rated 10lbs behind Dubai Fountain, however she is way better than that and could have hosed up in a nursery.
Instead she goes for this Group 3 and she has the capabilities to win it. She’s an improver; not much was expected on debut at 6/1 against four rivals but she ran on nicely to separate Wedding Dance, since second in a Group 3 and rated around 100, and Nash Nasha who was an easy winner at Lingfield on Wednesday.
She beat a promising type of John Gosden’s called Senita just a week ago with the minimum of fuss and can take a big stride forward in this race before being aimed perhaps at the top level by the end of the year.
5.10 Newmarket (Handicap) – EMISSARY
A fair shout for a podium finish in The Derby, Hugo Palmer’s colt indeed took his chance at Epsom but like many he was ridden incorrectly in a very unsatisfactory race behind the admittedly good Serpentine.
I was very much of the opinion that the race he took part in at Goodwood before his Classic tilt was a good one and that he could reach at least the 110 sort of level, something backed up by the fact that his very narrow conqueror Khalifa Sat went on to finish second in the Derby and is now rated 111.
The son of Kingman, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, gets in here off a mark of 98 and he is clearly ahead just now. He’ll be a Group horse in good time and may well have too much in hand for this particular opposition.
The best of the rest may well be John Gosden’s Harrovian. A three-time winner already, this four-year-old is still getting better and his jockey takes off a handy 7lbs, but that’s only a good thing if Oliver Stammers’ inexperience doesn’t count too much against him and he still has a lot of weight to carry round.
Cognac and Data Protection look best of the rest in this mile-and-a-quarter event but it would be no surprise to see Khalid Abdullah’s horse win this well under Harry Bentley before moving on and up over this trip, as well perhaps as 1½ miles.