The Easter weekend gets underway on Friday with a bang, the All-Weather Championships at Lingfield providing most of the prize money but the potentially classier horses being at Newcastle where we have two value bets.
Saturday sees the valuable Dubai World Cup Carnival reach a crescendo and we again have a pair of horses who may spring slight shocks in their respective races.Embed from Getty Images
Friday 30th March 2018
3.20 Newcastle (Betway Handicap) – ISLAND BRAVE
Newcastle have received decent support for this Class 2 race and it’s unsurprising with a cheque worth near £55,000 going to the winning connections. Marco Botti, Ed Dunlop, Roger Varian and Alan King all send contenders but it may not be one of the big yards that goes on to win this.
Heather Main’s Island Brave could be the one to side with at a very fair price from stall 5, the improving four-year-old just about certain to be suited by the return to a Tapeta surface. As well as a couple of placed efforts at Lingfield in between, Island Brave won three in a row at Wolverhampton on the same sort of surface he’ll get here and it seems there’ll be further improvement from him now he’s back on it.
Top all-weather jock Luke Morris is booked for the ride on Island Brave which is another positive. He’d be an unusual winner in many ways coming from a sprinting lineage, unlike Ed Dunlop’s Amazing Red who holds an excellent chance, though he’s compromised out in stall 11.
A couple of placed efforts on the all-weather read quite well here given that he’s liable to improve, while one of Alan King’s representatives Cosmeapolitan also holds a fair place chance along with Shabeeb should he take to the surface well enough.
3.55 Newcastle (Burradon Stakes) – PURSER
Having been a conditions race last year, the Burradon now makes its debut as a Listed event worth £56,000 to the winner and has the distinction of being the last leg of the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Jeremy Noseda’s Grownkowski sits alongside Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelssohn on 20 points as the top European horse still nominated for the big one in Louisville, though to put it into perspective the top US horse is currently on 110 points before the major trials that side of the pond.
His price looks extremely short to me here despite his improvement and apparent liking for Tapeta and he could be outclassed by a couple including Mark Johnston’s high class filly Nyaleti. Assistant Charlie Johnston described her last summer as the best 2yo filly in Britain and it would be no surprise to see her throw in a big run before a tilt at the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, though she too could yet be outclassed.
For me, John Gosden’s Purser is the one to concentrate on and he may well be steered into the race with two to go before showing what I believe will be a better turn of foot than the others. Fourth in the Solario on only his second start and expected to win the Autumn Stakes (won in the end by Derby contender Ghaiyyath) he is high class and can go on to significant Group success this term.
Saturday 31st March 2018
4.35 Meydan (Dubai Turf) – MONARCHS GLEN
There’s over £2.5million on offer to the winner of this one and while I’m a fan of likely favourite Benbatl and would love to see him win, I feel John Gosden’s is a better horse and could be extremely good value for this one at more than 10/1.
He took a while to come to himself but that’s typical of a Gosden horse and in fact it’s a positive – whatever he achieved last season can be bettered now and that’s what I expect to see here. The form of Monarchs Glen’s Group 3 win at HQ last backend puts him right in the mix here but the fact he is improving and is entered into the Coronation Cup at Epsom shows what this top yard truly thinks of him.
As well as Benbatl I’d expect the Japanese trained Neorealism to be on the premises at the business end of the race but he may not quite get to Frankie Dettori’s mount who can improve for both time and the heat on his back.
5.50 Meydan (Dubai World Cup) – THUNDER SNOW (each-way)
There’s just the £4.4million on offer for this year’s Dubai World Cup victor so it’s not too big a deal, but we’ll have a crack at it anyway and attempt to decipher whether or not the Americans can be beaten this time.
Bob Baffert’s West Coast is favourite and rightly so having finished second in the Pegasus World Cup but it remains to be seen whether or not that form lives up to expectations at this level. Filly Forever Unbridled also has a great chance at a price while Godolphin’s main hope according to colours is Talismanic.
It’s their apparent second choice I’m interested in though with Thunder Snow having been well travelled and not always successfully, but coming in here at odds of 12 and 14/1 and the potential for ¼ odds to finish in the first three he rates a great each-way bet.
His performances in the 2016 Criterium International as well as last year’s Irish 2000 Guineas and Prix Jean Prat put him right in the reckoning and as a 4yo we have not seen the best of him just yet.