After the Derby and Oaks jamboree last weekend its back down to earth for us between now and Royal Ascot, though Haydock Park does provide three good pattern races and we have a good value bet in each.
Musselburgh and Newmarket also back things up with good cards, the troubled Scottish track being where we start with an improving type in the opening handicap:Embed from Getty Images
1.55 Musselburgh (1m4½f Handicap) – REVEREND JACOBS
The owner/trainer combination of Bernard Kantor and William Haggas didn’t luck out in the end with their Young Rascal in the Derby last weekend, however they could gain just a little compensation on the east coast of Scotland with this Reverend Jacobs.
The four-year-old son of Nathaniel has proven his liking for this sort of track, trip and ground and so on the face of it has no obstacles to running his best. With that in mind thoughts turn to the opposition and while plenty will have prepped their horses to peak form, the likes of Western Duke, Lycidas and Theglasgowwarrior simply don’t look as well handicapped as our horse given how much improvement he may have to come.
Although it’s unclear whether he will or will not want further than this mile-and-a-half trip in time, the fact that he holds an entry in the £150,000 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle at the end of the month gives us some sort of clue as to what level his connections think he can reach.
2.50 Haydock (Pinnacle Stakes – Group 3) – GOD GIVEN
There are certain risks attached to backing this filly; the jockey is good if overrated and likewise the trainer, unexposed improvers can always come out of the woodwork in such races and thus far all of her best form has been on softer going.
However, God Given looks a class above these and she herself can still improve further while without having witnessed her run on fast ground we cannot say she won’t handle it, therefore we must trust the trainer as far as underfoot conditions are concerned.
Her sire, Nathaniel, did OK on faster going while the damsire Dubai Destination was very good on it so given that on balance she seems to have a few pounds in hand of her rivals on all known information, she’s worth taking a chance on.
Not one single filly really stands out as the best alternative which further strengthens God Given’s claims, though the tough and experienced Titi Makfi may provide some opposition, along with German raider Fosun. What A Home was expected to reach a fair level last time and still may be a 100+ rated filly in time.
3.25 Haydock (Achilles Stakes – Listed Race) – JUDICIAL
Very few things over this weekend would give me a greater pleasure than seeing Muthmir get his head in front again at this level, and he is likely to go off favourite too. However, at eight years of age he is not getting any better and we cannot guarantee he will reach the form required now to beat Elite Racing’s charge Judicial.
Julie Camacho’s six-year-old ran a stormer last month in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes on Guineas weekend at Newmarket and nothing about that was a fluke. He has enough pace to mix it with William Haggas’ aforementioned Muthmir as well as speedy 7yo Alpha Delphini and so could be decent value to get his head in front.
The trip and ground are right up Judicial’s alley and it would be no surprise to see him score a narrow victory before perhaps stepping back up to Group company before long.
3.40 Newmarket (1m6f Handicap) – QULOOB
Owen Burrows’ progressive four-year-old Quloob looks a real stayer to reckon with this season and, although typically in a competitive handicap he doesn’t exactly come out miles clear on ratings, it’s clear that we’ve got nowhere near to the bottom of him yet and he looks set to compete in Listed or Group races at some point later in the season.
Of the main contenders in the race, alongside Alqamar, Mary Hopkins, Golden Wolf and Addicted To You, he is the highest rated already and with only seven runs in the bag thus far he seems sure to run to a mark of 100-plus and can make his class tell.
Fast ground would appear to be his forte and if it hadn’t been for softer ground only just scuppering his chances when last seen in August he would be opening his season up looking for a five-timer here.
4.00 Haydock (John of Gaunt Stakes – Group 3) – D’BAI
A huge group photo at Moulton Paddocks showed the sheer joy even a huge organisation experiences when Masar landed the Derby and this week, the combination of Charlie Appleby, William Buick and Godolphin could be celebrating again albeit in a rather more muted way.
Their D’bai has had plenty of goes but is still only a four-year-old and hasn’t reached his racing peak yet. Seven furlongs on quick ground looks ideal for him and the step up in trip from his narrow defeat in a Windsor Listed event could now mean him putting up his best performance yet.
If that were to be achieved then the son of Dubawi is likely to land his first Group race at the main expense of Richard Hannon’s Tabarrak and Godolphin’s admirable Lockinge Stakes fourth Dutch Connection.
The unknown quantity in the race is Roger Varian’s four-year-old and likely favourite Emmaus, though despite the rapid improvement shown it would appear the ground is not in his favour. Not only has he shown his best form on very soft ground, but most of Invincible Spirit’s other good offspring seem to take a dip in form when they can hear their hooves rattling.