We’re jet-setting everywhere from Haydock to New York this week and it’s a busy one; plenty of selections and tons of good value about.
Look out for the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley, often a good pointer towards the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot but we start with Haydock and a competitive handicap.
1.45 Haydock (Class 3 Handicap) – GANTIER
There could be some value on offer in this race, since we’re not sure what to expect from Mark Johnston’s easy all-weather winner Mind The Crack and the softer ground perhaps far from ideal for the likes of Prejudice and Alhaazm.
With that in mind, look out for a solid performance from Paradise Boy and an even better one from John Gosden’s Gantier. Frankie Dettori’s mount is ultra-consistent; never out of the places in seven goes since his debut, he stays this trip well and on breeding is one of few who may relish the conditions.
2.25 Haydock (Pinnacle Stakes – Group 3) – HIGHGARDEN
It’s not often that we see John Gosden responsible for two potentially great value selections, especially away from Newmarket, but it could be the case here at Haydock given that as well as Gantier he saddles the improving filly Highgarden.
She did not hit the heights expected of her early in her three-year-old career when she was an Oaks hopeful, but as the season wore on she came to herself and reached a really good level in winning the Group 3 Nayef Stakes at HQ. She’ll be better again this term and should handle conditions better than most.
We’re looking for value here so while Highgarden is the one, I’m fully aware that Willie Mullins’ True Self could make the selection look daft if she is on top form, but what that form is can be hard to judge given that of her three Listed wins her best was easily when she went down to 1m2f. Klassique is best of the rest.
3.20 Newmarket (2yo Novice Stakes) – OTTOMAN COURT
Naturally there’s little more than breeding to go on here, but while Ryan Moore has been booked by Mark Johnston for Visinari we know it’s no guarantee of success and John Gosden’s Daily Times is well bred but ridden by third choice jockey Nicky Mackay with Rab Havlin opting to head to Chelmsford.
Ottoman Court however ran poorly on debut but was 4/9 to win that day and plenty was expected. That was a good race too so if they are right that he should have been winning that, then he’d be capable of using his experience and taking this en route to Royal Ascot.
3.35 Haydock (John of Gaunt Stakes – Group 3) – MANKIB
There are some solid performers in this large Group 3 field, with Sir Dancealot a worthy favourite on paper after his effort in the Lockinge while Safe Voyage has won twice over this very course and distance on rain-softened ground already this season, the latter effort when beating the selection.
Mankib though was not as fit as Safe Voyage last time, will improve as this season goes on and is very much seen by connections as the real deal so it would be no surprise to see him win this before being aimed at something like the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Group 1 level.
5.25 Chelmsford (Maiden Stakes) – SWIFT WING
As mentioned earlier, Rab Havlin is happy to skip his Newmarket rides for boss John Gosden and have an away day at Chelmsford, primarily to ride this very well-bred colt.
He ran a terrific race on debut when second at Ascot, with both the mile-and-a-half trip and the very soft ground against him and so the level of performance expected here could be almost Group standard.
9.46 Belmont Park (Metropolitan Handicap – Grade 1) – THUNDER SNOW
Saeed bin Suroor’s globetrotting high-earner has a chance to add even more riches this weekend when he goes in search of this £500,000+ first prize.
True, the trip in the Met Mile would be something he hasn’t encountered for a while, but Belmont is deep and will take some getting for most of the main contenders.
The likes of Mitole, McKinzie and Firenze Fire are better over shorter distances and/or on faster tracks so given that Thunder Snow has proven his pace, such as when bursting out from a horrible draw to hit the lead before winning his second Dubai World Cup in March, he will lay-up with this field no problem from gate 4 and clearly has the stamina to see the race out under Christophe Soumillon.
11.37 Belmont Park (Belmont Stakes – Grade 1) – BOURBON WAR
This fantastic card reaches its highlight with the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes with the winner of the latter, War Of Will is attracting plenty of support.
If this were a Kentucky Derby we could be talking about strong favourites being the ones to concentrate on, but the Belmont has a habit of throwing up big priced winners and it could happen again given that the two at the head of the market, War Of Will and Tacitus, are drawn widest of all in gates 9 and 10.
War Of Will looks quick to me while Master Fencer ran the fastest two furlongs in the field on a compacted Churchill Downs track in the Derby, so none of these things point to stamina which is certainly needed on Big Sandy around a mile-and-a-half.
The one who could be huge value is Bourbon War. Representing this year’s strong Florida form, he was never in with a chance when beaten narrowly by Code Of Honor in the Fountain of Youth (since second in the Derby), and again the race didn’t work out his way when he was fourth to the impressive first past the post in Kentucky, Maximum Security in the Florida Derby.
His family boasts easily the most stamina within this field and his daddy Tapit has sired three of the last 5 Belmont winners, the other two being Triple Crown heroes, so given that his best work will be done late on, at morning line odds of 12/1 he looks a huge bet to give trainer Mark Hennig a massive win.