It’s Eider Chase, Winter Derby and Close Brothers Chase day on Saturday as the flat and National Hunt action comes at us thick and fast.
There are plenty of good value betting opportunities for us as we head to Lingfield, Kempton and even the USA in search of profit this weekend. We make an early start with one in the 11.45 at Lingfield, Ryan Moore looking once again to be the start of the show.
11.45 Lingfield (Handicap) – CONVERTIBLE
Ryan Moore has been brilliant at Lingfield of late, despite his constant and unnecessary criticism in some quarters, and he has another strong book of rides once again on Saturday.
We’re backing him to make the perfect start on Hugo Palmer’s Convertible in the early mile-and-a-quarter handicap. Just a four-year-old, Convertible is still improving and ran a career best here under Moore last time out.
The gelding looks well capable of defying a rise in the weights, has easily the strongest speed figures and now gets standard going as opposed to standard-to-slow which will help him along from stall 3.
2.40 Lingfield (Winter Derby Stakes – Group 3) – FOREST OF DEAN
We have only a small field for this year’s Winter Derby, and it can once again go to the John Gosden team courtesy of their Forest Of Dean.
Off the track all of last season, the team retain plenty of faith in the now five-year-old who is in the care of Godolphin these days.
Just feeling his way back with two third-placed efforts, he is the strongest traveller of this bunch when at his best and has been prepared to peak now.
He’s good value to beat impressive handicap winner Father Of Jazz, Felix and Johnny Drama, and can prove he is up to this sort of class under Rab Havlin.
3.00 Kempton (Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2) – CALICO
The top three in the market, Atholl Street, Calico and Cape Gentleman have only six runs between them at this point and all are capable of tons of improvement.
Atholl Street has been the one for money in the build-up to the weekend, however the one who has more to come on better ground is the Skelton five-year-old and so he represents the best value.
In winning on his hurdle debut at Ludlow last month Calico was almost as quick between the flights as Atholl Street was last time, so considering he had to do that on heavy ground it seems we can see the sort of performance on this surface that may well have this lot beaten off before they hit the last.
It may yet be significant that Emmet Mullins brings Cape Gentleman over from Ireland for this event and he too can go well, but there’s a lot to like about Calico and he gets the vote this time.
4.25 Newcastle (Handicap Chase) – ASCOT DE BRUYERE
This is a decent two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase featuring just the eight runners, and it seems the weather has turned out perfectly for James Ewart’s Ascot De Bruyere.
The ground was good when he won very impressively at Newcastle three months ago, so the fact that it has been sunny and a little windy all day on Friday on Tyneside the advertised good-to-soft may turn to just about the good going he had when winning over the track and trip.
He’s only gone up 7lbs for winning by miles, has had plenty of time to recover, is clearly on the improve and has the services of Brian Hughes up top. He seems like a very sound selection.
Seemorelights and Clan Legend look best of the rest, but a nice clean round of jumping should see Ascot De Bruyere go in at Gosforth Park once more.
10.58 Oaklawn Park (Southwest Stakes – Grade 3) – ESSENTIAL QUALITY
This is the delayed $750,000 Southwest Stakes in Arkansas, a key early Kentucky Derby prep race. Bad weather put paid to the latest showdown between Essential Quality and Jackie’s Warrior two weeks ago, but the delay may have helped in terms of their training and readiness for the season ahead.
There was dismay flying around from the Jackie’s Warrior camp that they didn’t win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last season, however regular readers will know how confident I was about Essential Quality that day in November and the Godolphin horse duly won in big style to become America’s champion two-year-old of 2020.
He has been a very worthy winter Kentucky Derby favourite and really should win this race too, though the presence of his old rival means he has been available at 6/5 here and has a morning line price of 6/4 in the States.
Just shop around to get the best odds you can on a horse who will have one more prep after this before heading to Churchill Downs on May 1st for his date with destiny.