Thursday 27 May 2021

Friday 28th, Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th May 2021: Take a Glorious Journey to Haydock

We are betting across three days this weekend, as well as over two countries. There’s group action at Haydock and in Paris, but we begin with some nice prospects at Yarmouth on Friday afternoon.

Friday 28th May 2021 

2.00 Yarmouth (Novice Stakes) – NEW SCIENCE

There are plenty of unraced horses in this seven-furlong event with potential, and they should come to the fore. The likes of Find, Mr Alan and Aswan are obvious types from top yards, but there’s enough to like in the profile of New Science to take a punt here.

Charlie Appleby’s better juveniles tend to be straight for their first run and get up around the 80+ level pretty quickly, which may be a bit much for the others. New Science is very well bred, Lope De Vega’s progeny tend go on rain-softened ground as well, and he should be able to see this distance out best under William Buick.

2.30 Yarmouth (Maiden Stakes) – KEMARI

The twice-raced Ballantruan may be able to make experience count for John & Thady Gosden, but there’s a question mark as to whether he’s actually good enough.

Breccia comes with a reputation, but looking at the form of her debut second where she was sandwiched by Nash Nasha and Chiasma, that race may well have been a little overrated.

The opposite could be true of Kemari’s form. He too was runner-up on debut, ran green, and looked like an obvious big improver. Based on the true ability of easy winner Movin Time, as well as third-placed Magical Land, that race it seems has been underestimated and with natural progression this son of Dubawi may be the one this time.

Saturday 29th May 2021 

2.20 Haydock (Achilles Stakes – Listed Race) – EL ASTRONAUTE

We’re still dealing with soft ground at Haydock, but that shouldn’t be a problem for El Astronaute. A few of these in opposition it seems will hate the going, so competition on the day may not be as it looks on the race card.

Trainer John Quinn has spoken lately to say that he’ll put El Astronaute in the Abbaye later this season and that he’s not there to make up the numbers! He won nicely on seasonal debut at Chester, will be cherry ripe now and in the circumstances simply looks the best of this bunch. Aljady and County D’orsay were next on the list.

2.55 Haydock (Pinnacle Stakes – Group 3) – LA LUNE

Cabaletta may be a short price for this race, but she hasn’t done overly well on soft ground and this contest will take some getting.

Salsada is another in with a chance, but really the price available about Henry Candy’s La Lune rather underestimates her ability in these conditions.

A winner last time out, La Lune is an improving mare and while that Listed success at Nottingham was achieved on fast ground, she has also done well on the heavy and this shouldn’t bother her too much. She’s capable of a mark of around 105 now and that would be enough to land this event.

3.30 Haydock (John of Gaunt Stakes – Group 3) – GLORIOUS JOURNEY

John Quinn retains faith in Safe Voyage who handles these conditions but runs under a penalty. There were excuses for him at the Breeders’ Cup and in the Lockinge, but both times he was beaten a very long way and you’d be taking a right punt on backing him to suddenly come back to the appropriate level.

Toro Strike was excellent last time and has handled soft, but his best form has been on quick ground so doubts remain.

The filly With Thanks could reach the top level and she is a danger here however we can’t be certain the ground is actually soft enough for her, a real mud lover, and this is her seasonal debut.

The one to be on at the prices is Charlie Appleby’s Glorious Journey. Hot and cold in the past, he is much more consistent now, handles the conditions and definitely has the ability.

If the six-year-old gets back to the level of any of his last three wins, or to that of his close fourth in Saudi Arabia behind Space Blues, then he should be too good for this field.

4.25 Chester (Maiden Stakes) – AL SHIBLI

The three juveniles to concentrate on, Al Shibli (Richard Hannon), I’m A Gambler (Mark Johnston) and Roman Dragon (Tom Dascombe) have each had one racecourse outing and should all be straight enough for this.

The first named however could potentially be a class above. Having been strongly fancied on debut at Newbury, Al Shibli ran very green indeed and effectively threw his race away. He should have improved a ton for that run and may be hard to live with now.

If he wins, Royal Ascot beckons and he has a nice draw and the assistance of the confident and capable Jim Crowley.

Sunday 30th May 2021 

3.15 ParisLongchamp (Prix d’Ispahan – Group 1) – TILSIT

A typically muddling but fascinating French Group 1 race beckons here over nine-and-a-half furlongs.

Skalleti is very solid at this level but is not getting any younger, while Godolphin’s Victor Ludorum is consistent but has never really kicked on to a new level and will need to in this company.

Impressive QEII winner The Revenant just doesn’t seem the same horse this year having had two tries already, though he may be interesting in a stronger run race later in the year, perhaps back in Britain.

Charlie Hills is looking to bring Tilsit over for this one though and he could truly come of age now. Green on debut last year, the First Defence colt looked all over a future Group 1 winner when demolishing his Newcastle field by 19 lengths before landing a Group 3 for this page at a nice price.

He hated things in Saudi Arabia last time out, is down a furlong now and may just possess a better turn of foot than his opposition which is often what is needed in a slowly-run race, which this is likely to be.

Friday 21 May 2021

Saturday 22nd May 2021: Mystical to Dawn Upon Handicap Victory

Even with the Irish 2000 Guineas card in serious doubt as of Friday afternoon, we have an incredibly busy Saturday on our hands.

The recommendation, given the number of selections and the bad weather all round, is to keep stakes small and spread your bank around.

1.20 Haydock (Handicap) – MYSTICAL DAWN

John & Thady Gosden’s Side Shot may yet attract the majority of the money, however there is no guarantee he’ll act well on the very soft ground.

Charlie Appleby’s Mystical Dawn however, definitely does. Having only his fourth race and with lots of improvement to come, this is a horse who stepped up his game as a runner-up last time but when going back to look at his debut his chances become even more apparent.

At Newmarket last October, Mystical Dawn won nicely on his bow, staying on well over the mile. That was on genuine soft ground, he had Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet back in third and as a son of Sea The Stars promises to move forward again now over this tough mile-and-a-half trip. Adam Kirby rides, Classic Lord is fancied for a place.

1.40 Goodwood (Handicap) – AMTIYAZ

Although set to be an outsider in the market, Amtiyaz has plenty to offer in the context of this 1m6f contest.

The Gosden horse, ridden by Martin Harley who has been going superbly, has been nothing if not consistent in nine career starts to date.

Eight of his runs have been on the all-weather, but the way he has seen out his races on the Tapeta at Newcastle and Wolverhampton tends to make one think he should handle the soft ground conditions here.

He finished his year with a two-mile win at Kempton, an easy one, and having had a decent pipe-opener this term it’s a surprise to see him at double-figure prices. Prince Alex has a strong chance too for Ralph Beckett but is far too short in the market.

2.05 York (Handicap) – AJYAALL

Gone are the days of worrying about horses making their seasonal reappearance, so there is more than just a suggestion that the talented thrice raced Ajyaall can resume his sharp upward trajectory for William Haggas.

The trip, ground and track should all be fine for him, he’s now been gelded to settle him down further, and based on the form of his win at Wolverhampton and even just natural progression he could have half a stone in hand on the likes of Escobar and Zip at the weights. Cieren Fallon rides.

2.25 Haydock (Handicap) – POSTILEO

This is a very competitive handicap, one that given the two-mile trip and how hard Haydock is to see out on heavy ground will be a very attritional one.

In a tight market there will be support for Vindolanda, Hiroshima, Dash Of Spice and others, however two old rivals may well be fighting this out with placing perhaps being reversed.

In the Chester Plate last time around, Roger Varian’s Postileo chased home Venetia Williams’s Green Book and while there were four lengths separating them at the line, the lighter-raced of the two can get revenge.

Chester is unique. Postileo could have got closer with luck, there is a 7lb weight turnaround, he was favourite last time, he has improvement to come and the two furlong drop in trip will also help.

2.40 York (Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes – Group 3) – BELIEVE IN LOVE

In terms of getting value, with any luck there will be money for Irish-trained horses Mighty Blue and Flor De La Luna which may well mean an increase in the odds for Roger Varian’s Believe In Love.

Making her first start for 210 days, the four-year-old filly is likely to have improved plenty since last seen, not that there was anything wrong with her form.

In winning her fourth race on the bounce, Believe In Love was mightily impressive last August at Newmarket and finished off the year with a cosy win in a Group 3 in France.

She wants this mile-and-three-quarter trip, the ground is fine and she looks well capable of defying her 3lb penalty.

2.50 Goodwood (Handicap) – ALDAARY

This is a race that could come down to the two Shadwell horses. John & Thady Gosden’s Tawleed won nicely last time and was rated highly on my private ratings.

That’s encouraging considering the horse who came out on top in the conditions, impressive last time out winner Aldaary (William Haggas), is the choice of rider Jim Crowley between the two and he can win this before going up into Group company the next time we see him.

3.40 Newmarket (Handicap) – ALMIGHWAR

I’d expect to see strong support during the afternoon for Lostwithiel for men of the moment George Boughey and Rossa Ryan, though it’s time for one that has shown lots of class to finally get his head in front this season.

Gosden/Shadwell runner Almighwar was beaten only by the highly progressive Al Zaraqaan first time up, then looked all over the winner at Newbury over the two-mile trip but was beaten a neck.

He was the ante-post favourite for the Chester Cup, which is important to remember, but coming down to this 1m6f trip may be best for him at this point. Charlie Appleby’s Global Storm is the overnight favourite and rates as the main danger.

3.50 York (Handicap) – PENDLETON

A tough five-furlong sprint, but one in which a small bet on Pendleton may well be rewarded. Kept in training having not run since a good 2019 season, he was brought back by classy sprint expert Michael Dods to put up a career best when returning in second at Ascot two weeks ago and this looks well within his compass.

4.10 Haydock (Temple Stakes – Group 2) – QUE AMORO

Speaking of Dods’s sprinters, his Que Amoro looks the best value punt in the Group 2 Temple Stakes.

It’s a tight enough race with Liberty Beach, Lady In France and Keep Busy all holding chances, but the five-year-old mare’s progressive form having won a Listed Race at Ayr last season before chasing Battaash home in the Nunthorpe rates as the best all things considered. Paul Mulrennan takes the ride.

Friday 14 May 2021

Saturday 15th May 2021: Gosden Horse the Logical Choice

It’s a Group 1 day on Saturday. Newbury hosts the Lockinge Stakes, but while the fantastic Palace Pier should be far too strong in that race, he really isn’t a betting proposition at the prices.

With that in mind, we look for value elsewhere with these six all being worth a look at Newbury, Newmarket and Doncaster.

1.50 Newbury (Carnarvon Stakes – Listed Race) – CREATIVE FORCE

It’s very interesting to see Tactical running in this six-furlong race and the Queen’s horse is the overnight favourite.

Andrew Balding is in fantastic form and Tactical managed to win the European Free Handicap last time out, however based on that, his breeding and his win in the July Stakes last year you’d be forgiven for thinking this drop in trip is not ideal.

He also gives away 3lbs to Charlie Appleby’s Creative Force and that may prove to be too much. James Doyle’s mount has done nothing but improve, while we need to also seriously upgrade his win last time against just three rivals.

All three of his wins so far have come at Newmarket, but he seems like a horse going places and it shouldn’t bother him coming to Newbury. He’s favoured ahead of Tactical and Happy Romance.

2.25 Newbury (Aston Park Stakes – Group 3) – LOGICIAN

This is a fantastic race, so keep an eye on this one as far as form going forward is concerned. Ranch Hand is on a hat-trick, Thunderous was last year’s Dante winner and the top two in the market are essentially Group 1 horses.

All the talk has been of Al Aasy of the William Haggas yard. The team is doing well and the four-year-old was imperious over this course and distance back in April.

It’s thought that this is a stepping stone to Epsom and the Coronation Cup by a team that has a lot of confidence in the Sea The Stars colt, however they may not have quite banked on one particular horse being in opposition.

Logician, the very classy grey who won the 2019 St Leger in style, makes his seasonal reappearance here. He wasn’t seen to best effect last term although he did win very easily first time up and is good when fresh.

Knowing this type of horse from the Gosden yard, even at five we are unlikely to have seen the best of him and he may be heading for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the year.

Still a full horse, had the team at Juddmonte not thought he could land a major blow at the top level they would very definitely have retired this son of Frankel by now. He’s proven at the trip, he’s a Group 1 winner, he gets 3lbs from Al Aasy and is second-favourite behind his rival. Big chance.

2.40 Newmarket (King Charles II Stakes – Listed Race) – CLOUDBRIDGE

On a day like this, a Listed race at Newmarket may slightly go under the radar but it may well be that there is great value in this seven-furlong event.

Cloudbridge, owned by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby, put up a debut performance last August when winning that even by the standards of this team was exceptional. I haven’t forgotten that, and I’m sure they haven’t either.

He went off even-money favourite for the Group 3 Acomb at York but ran way too free, then finished his year off as early as September with a close second in another Group 3 at Kempton over six furlongs.

This is more his trip, and we have no idea how much he may have improved since we last saw him. He has tons of class and it’s hard to know why at the time of writing he is available at 5/1.

William Buick has chosen to come “home” and ride this horse rather than ride Creative Force, Tamborrada and A’Shaari at Newbury, which is a nod in itself. Bellosa and Fundamental are best of the rest.

3.00 Newbury (London Gold Cup Handicap) – TAMBORRADA

As for Tamborrada, he may even go and win the London Gold Cup. Despite being unbeaten, this gelded son of Dubawi doesn’t appear to that well handicapped when you consider his 8lb rise for a very narrow win at Doncaster.

However, he looks to be a real improver while a closer look at that Doncaster form reveals it was a better race than we all thought.

The second, a Mark Johnston horse, has improved plenty to win since then while the horse he beat has also stepped forward since then.

Bay Bridge was impressive at Newcastle last time for Sir Michael Stoute and is a major danger, as is John Gosden’s Highland Rocker.

4.10 Newbury (Fillies’ Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – A’SHAARI

In reading the racing press it would seem everybody wants to be on the likely short-priced favourite Sea Empress in this race, and that’s understandable.

William Haggas’ young Sea The Stars filly looked very good when winning her debut at Newcastle ahead of Teona no less, the filly who won by 9 lengths at the same track afterwards and went off only 15/8 for the Musidora the other day.

The form is rock solid, but we only have the one example and such debut winners don’t always go on to be superstars.

At the odds, the value call is A’Shaari. Herself just 6/4 for the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes recently, she didn’t handle things that day and will also strip much fitter now for the run. Her own debut was pretty spectacular at HQ last August and she’ll appreciate the extra juice in the ground here. The Oaks may yet be on the cards.

7.35 Doncaster (Handicap) – THIRD KINGDOM

Having found the ground too quick when earning a mark of 86 at Sandown on his second run, John & Thady Gosden’s Third Kingdom finished off his juvenile season with a very facile win at Newcastle in September.

He was bumped up to a mark of 88, but that underestimates him for certain and he’s in a position to use this race as a springboard to better things. Beau Jardine is the main danger.

Friday 7 May 2021

Saturday 8th May 2021: Derby Picture to Change Again

With the Guineas already a distant memory, we are hurtling towards Oaks and Derby weekend and the picture is changing all the time.

Godolphin’s Yibir, Law Of The Sea and Wirko didn’t step up at Chester from their impressive previous runs, though Charlie Appleby and the boys in blue have two outstanding candidates in the trials at Lingfield on Saturday.

On Sunday at Leopardstown one of the Derby favourites, Bolshoi Ballet, clashes with Vertem Futurity winner Mac Swiney in an intriguing Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, but betting-wise it’s all about Saturday for us, beginning at Lingfield Park.

2.15 Lingfield (Oaks Trial Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – NASH NASHA

Anapurna won this race a couple of years ago before landing the big one at Epsom, but otherwise it has tended not to take a lot of winning in all truth.

Despite the apparent strength in the market of likely favourite Technique, she is not guaranteed to stamp her authority on this race for Martyn Meade and Sean Levey.

At all sorts of prices there is a bunch of fillies who look similar in terms of ability; Divinely, Loving Dream and Ocean Road among them, which leaves us looking for value and potential and the only horse on the card to have both is Godolphin’s Nash Nasha.

Charlie Appleby’s filly is a Dubawi and her stamina isn’t guaranteed, however her style of racing suggests she’ll be happy here and she is improving very quickly indeed.

Having been off the track since last August, she made just her third career start when not fully wound up on the Classic Trial card at Newbury in a fillies’ novice race last month, comfortably seeing off a potentially decent one of William Haggas’ along with Frankel’s full sister Chiasma.

She will be very much better for that run, doesn’t have much to make up on Technique anyway, and at twice the price represents the aforementioned value we’re looking for.

2.50 Lingfield (Derby Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – ADAYAR

An interesting Derby Trial, in fact this race is starting to throw up proper contenders again. After Anthony Van Dyck did the Lingfield Trial-Derby double two years ago, impressive winner English King took the race last time before going off a strong favourite for the Blue Riband at Epsom.

Now we have Adayar for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin. In a strong Classic Trial at Newbury, Adayar carried the team’s second colours but was the horse everybody took out of the race.

Having been slowly away and also losing a shoe, the Frankel colt stayed on powerfully to only just fail, beating Yibir home who was a strong favourite for the Dee Stakes, and being unlucky not to collar Alenquer who now heads to the Dante at York.

Apart from the trip not being a worry, he gave the impression that he would improve a ton from that performance. William Buick’s mount can now get right up to around the 115 level and, even with Aidan O’Brien pair Carlisle Bay and Kyprios in the field, that’s a mark the field may not be able to match. A real Derby hope.

2.55 Nottingham (Kilvington Stakes – Listed Race) – LIGHT REFRAIN

We should keep stakes small here in a competitive affair, but at the odds it is worth taking a chance on Light Refrain.

It wouldn’t always be wise backing three-year-olds against the older horses this early in the season, however in the testing conditions the lighter physical weight they are carrying may well count for plenty.

While the stalls are placed in the centre, the field could just end up near the stands rail and so those drawn high won’t be disadvantaged, including the Queen’s horse. Runners can rather get away at Nottingham and Light Refrain has been known to run on the front end, so her style is bang on for this contest.

Although she’s a Frankel, William Haggas’ young filly did very well over six furlongs at Newcastle (Tapeta) and at York (soft ground) last season making these conditions appear ideal.

She may well steal a march and land this one under Shane Kelly with Mountain Brave, Last Empire, Ventura Diamond and Chocoya all fighting for places.

3.25 Lingfield (Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes – Group 3) – AXANA

This is a decent race and, while it’s close on the numbers, we could once again have the luxury of keeping stakes small and going for some real value.

Underrated and overpriced in the line-up is the German raider Axana. Often horses from certain territories are not considered good enough, a view that should have been left behind in 1990, and having not got out of third gear on her seasonal return Andreas Wohler’s five-year-old mare can step up and prove to be the best of these.

She’s got to the required level before and can certainly do so again under Jason Watson at a nice price, the chief opposition potentially coming from Double or Bubble and Bounce The Blues.

3.45 Haydock (Spring Trophy Stakes – Listed Race) – RAAEQ

It would be so easy to ignore Haydock on Saturday for betting purposes, despite their impressive mixed card, on account of the ground but the Listed Spring Trophy has attracted a bunch of horses who should be happy in the soft conditions.

Chief among them is Raaeq. Brian Meehan’s colt should probably be clear favourite for this but, at the time of writing at least, is available with a bit of value.

Having already been improving nicely as a three-year-old, Raaeq slammed his handicap field over seven furlongs on soft ground at Ascot last autumn, earning himself a mark of 107 that he now looks more than capable of surpassing.

Having run a fair reappearance race on good ground over a mile he can be expected to come on now, so in favoured conditions he is likely to put up a career best that would be too hot for this field to handle.

Lord Of The Lodge, Current Options, Qaysar and Tomfre were the other ones considered.