We have a wonderful weekend in store on the flat with Calyx running again in the Sandy Lane at Haydock and possible participation from the likes of Wild Illusion in the Prix d’Ispahan over at ParisLongchamp.
Our bets are spread across three days and four tracks, starting with a horse really going places this summer running in Listed company at Goodwood.
Friday 24th May 2019
3.30 Goodwood (Cocked Hat Stakes – Listed Race) – PRIVATE SECRETARY
John Gosden has taken two surprising decisions regarding this horse this week; to call him a Derby candidate but then to leave him in this race with just 8 days to spare before Epsom.
As it turns out the horse will now skip Epsom and wait for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot instead but even so to take a hand there he simply has to win this. What he showed in winning his handicap at Sandown is that he’s well above average and this should be within his wheelhouse.
Stablemate Alfaatik ran better than the bare form would suggest behind Derby hopeful Bangkok at Sandown and can come on again, making him a definite second choice.
Saturday 25th May 2019
1.55 Goodwood (Festival Stakes – Listed Race) – VINTAGER
Nothing much would give me more pleasure than seeing Elarqam get back to his best and become the Group 1 horse we all thought he was a year ago, but even after his wind op he still has plenty to prove and while a Listed race is well within his grasp, he may just be bumping into a live one here.
Vintager was a winter purchase for Godolphin out of David Menuisier’s yard and, given that the four-year-old is a gelding, they haven’t done that for breeding purposes.
The Boys in Blue clearly think Vintager is a group performer and so do I, so considering he is just reaching a peak about now he should have too much quality here following on from his encouraging UK comeback third in the Spring Lodge Handicap at Newmarket. Extra Elusive is considered best of the rest.
3.05 York (Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes) – ENBIHAAR
As always there are a whole bunch of fillies here who could show extreme improvement, but on all known evidence this Enbihaar looks to be the one with most to offer.
She beat a really solid filly in the shape of Klassique last time out in a Listed race at Goodwood without really looking the finished article and so with natural improvement expected from that race to this, she should have too much for her opposition.
Pilaster is a very good yardstick in this division, though her best form would only put her on a par with what is expected of Enbihaar and she didn’t run well on her seasonal debut, while Maid Up has a few more pounds to make up on the pair but looks a solid selection for place money.
3.35 Curragh (Irish 2000 Guineas – Group 1) – TOO DARN HOT
Last year’s brilliant champion two-year-old makes a quick reappearance having shown himself not to stay in the Dante Stakes at York when on trial for the Derby.
His freshness after a layoff, the quick early pace, his failure to get 1m2½f and then his being eased slightly at the end mean the performance can be upgraded significantly and even a repeat of his Dewhurst run, let alone showing any improvement, would mean he can take this.
Magna Grecia did absolutely nothing wrong in winning the Guineas at Newmarket but he was on the best strip of ground for sure and may well just be up against a superior colt. Skardu is decent but is clearly looking to simply be best of the rest in this line-up.
3.40 Goodwood (Tapster Stakes – Listed Race) – MIRAGE DANCER
Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer won this race last year, albeit having had the benefit of a run, and a repeat of that performance would be good enough to score once again here.
While this is the five-year-old’s seasonal debut, his trainer has a great habit of improving these types and is in terrific form of late, so despite the obvious qualities of Barsanti and Danehill Kodiac he really doesn’t have an awful lot in the way of excuses and should land the race comfortably before perhaps going up in grade.
4.00 Haydock (Temple Stakes – Group 2) – BATTAASH
The brilliantly speedy Battaash used this race to kick-start his season a year ago and he can do so again. He was slowly away twelve months ago and had plenty to do going into the final furlong but still got there, and frankly it’s amazing how he only managed one more win.
He’s had another wind op now and is reported in good form making him a simple selection as long as he stays at odds-against. Despite some support for Michael Dods’ Abbaye and Palace House winner Mabs Cross it seems that, given her penalty, all-weather star Kachy may be the main danger to the selection.
Even if Kachy can run up to his best back on turf he looks at least 7lbs behind what we expect to see from Battaash though while Alpha Delphini can challenge for place money too.
Sunday 26th May 2019
4.25 Curragh (Irish 1000 Guineas – Group 1) – QABALA
It’s really encouraging to see the ambitious Roger Varian yard supplement this lovely filly into this race to have another crack at her Newmarket 1000 Guineas conqueror Hermosa and she may just come out on top this time around.
There were around 3lbs separating them at HQ so, given that this is only Qabala’s fourth career run and she is entitled to improve most, she was checked in her action just as the race was picking up going into the dip and she had to come widest of all to challenge, it’s far from a stretch to envisage her turning the tables at the Curragh.
Hermosa still ranks as the main danger, while Iridessa has some top class form as does East with both of those fillies looking dangerous at nice prices.