Friday 29 April 2022

Friday 29th & Saturday 30th April 2022: Native Not to Be Pushed off Guineas Trail

It’s Guineas weekend at Newmarket and time for Native Trail to meet his destiny.

HQ hosts three excellent days of racing, though terrific support comes from Goodwood and Newcastle. We have runners across all three days, including a value selection in Sunday’s fillies’ Classic.

Friday 29th April 2022

1.30 Goodwood (Conditions Stakes) – AL MUBHIR

A potentially trappy four-runner race to kick off with, but one in which Al Mubhir may be second or even third favourite which means some value is definitely on offer.

William Haggas’ colt won very well on debut, beaten several subsequent winners. Based on what they have achieved relative to him he should be too good at this level.

Al Mubhir was in the in the Craven and the Guineas, Tom Marquand in fact having said he was very excited by him. I hope Tuscan takes out a chunk of the market leaving us with a nice price.

3.15 Goodwood (Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – SAVE A FOREST

With the exception of Crystal Starlet, all of the fillies in this race are returning from long breaks. While Glenartney, Silence Please and Bartzella may all have good seasons, Save A Forest looks the pick.

Roger Varian’s filly won three races as a three-year-old, including at Listed level, and was fourth in the Oaks too. She very much looks the type who will peak this year and she might be too good for this field.

6.10 Newcastle (Handicap) – PETER THE GREAT

Frankie Dettori is at Newcastle on Friday night and he gets to ride the last two winners of the Wood Ditton Stakes, including Peter The Great.

After winning at Newmarket last year, you could say Anthony Oppenheimer’s son of New Approach didn’t go on as well as had been hoped, but his best subsequent form was at Newcastle and he has no doubt matured significantly now.

Race Night at Cheltenham

It's also race night at Cheltenham on Friday. I've covered every race over on my dedicated Cheltenham site

Saturday 30th April 2022

2.25 Newmarket (Suffolk Handicap) – DHAHABI 

This handicap race is run over the Cambridgeshire course and distance and in fact is only worth about £20,000 less, so keep an eye on the form.

Recent winner Fast Medicine is officially well in and could improve, but Dhahabi was a very expensive buy and was set for top honours before hitting a problem last year.

He returns before perhaps heading right to the top table. The half brother to Golden Horn has close form with the likes of One Ruler, Megallan and Van Gogh on unsuitable ground and should be more than capable of winning a handicap.

He showed plenty of speed to win over seven furlongs on good to firm ground on debut and this could be perfect for him. He’s in at Royal Ascot too so plenty is expected.

There is one demonstrably well-handicapped horse in against him of course, but at the odds we can take a chance.

3.00 Newmarket (Palace House Stakes – Group 3) – CAME FROM THE DARK 

Twilight Calls has been all the rage this week but I can’t help thinking he’s not quite there yet. Hurricane Ivor was a revelation last year but returns with a penalty, while Tis Marvellous retains ability and can go close.

The vote however goes to Came From The Dark who went from strength to strength last season, beating Garrus and Arecibo as well as going down by just a neck to Lazuli and that is excellent form.

3.40 Newmarket (2000 Guineas – Group 1) – NATIVE TRAIL 

Native Trail doesn’t come into the 2000 Guineas with quite the same reputation or ability that Frankel had, but he’s the best since the main man and he really should win this.

The brilliant National Stakes and Dewhurst winner did exactly what was required of him in the Craven earlier this month and he looks primed to win what would be Charlie Appleby’s first 2000 Guineas.

Appleby commented after the Craven that he weighs more than 540kg, the same weight as stable beasts Adayar and Hurricane Lane, while his stride length is also some 27 feet which is way above average.

These things, as well as his Craven win, should already quash the winter murmurings of him not staying in the mile, in fact he looks sure to get further and doesn’t really get racing at Newmarket until they hit the Dip.

Of course, I won’t be backing him in a single, he’s simply too short a price, but he couldn’t go without a huge mention here and I really hope above anything else that he does the business and in style under William Buick.

Recent renewals of the 2000 Guineas have suggested that then near side is very much favoured and Native Trail is drawn 15 of 15, ideal if he doesn’t get into traffic problems, though it must be said there is greater speed on the far side.

Richard Fahey is worried about Perfect Power not settling and we know he has tons of pace, he’s in stall 3, while Godolphin’s second strong and second-best on my list Coroebus is in gate 1. Charlie Appleby thinks that Coroebus can now race “the right way round” and if this is true, the far side pace may set things up nicely for him.

Group 1 winner Luxembourg is also on the far side in 4 and can make his mark, while Dubawi Legend shouldn’t be overlooked and nor should recent Burradon Stakes winner Checkandchallenge. Point Lonsdale has already been well beaten by Native Trail and will challenge him on the stands side.

4.50 Newmarket (Handicap) – KING OF TIME 

Razzle Dazzle is back from a break and should prove to be better than a 94 horse, while Private Signal did well last time for Godolphin and was reported to have had ringworm.

Will Buick has chosen to ride King Of Time instead of Private Signal, and that looks a wise move to me. Twice a winner on the all-weather, he’s done things with ease so far and looks very well handicapped indeed.

Sunday 1st May 2022

3.40 Newmarket (1000 Guineas – Group 1) – WILD BEAUTY

There may yet be a stunning Guineas double for Charlie Appleby and at a nice price.

His Wild Beauty has been overlooked somewhat for the 1000 Guineas based on the form and the time of her win at Newbury but that seems short sighted to me.

Yes, the time suggested the Fred Darling form was way below that of then Greenham won by Perfect Power, but she battled nicely to win there and was pulling away, her trainer simply commenting that the return to a mile will be very much in her favour.

What is more prevalent is her North American form from last year. In a Grade 1 in Canada, she was left at the start, but came right round a talented field and won with something in hand.

She should have gone to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf but instead took on Inspiral at Newmarket. That race was too soon for her and not in her best conditions, so is best forgotten.

The filly she took care of in Canada duly won easily at the Breeders’ Cup, in turn beating a number of the better British fillies and that form is about the best on offer in terms of the confirmed milers in this contest.

In the absence of Inspiral Aidan O’Brien’s Tenebrism is a hot favourite. She won the Cheveley Park Stakes last year from Flotus, who may well have won at this meeting before this race goes off, but she may very well not see out the mile.

French filly Malavath probably wants these faster conditions and is full of class, while Discoveries is also noteworthy.

Friday 22 April 2022

Friday 22nd & Saturday 23rd April 2022: Mutasaabeq Back on Track

Sandown’s mixed two-day meeting gets going on Friday and features the Gordon Richards Stakes.

Unfortunately, just the three runners have been attracted but they’re all quality and the event should be watched. I thought Mostahdaf was a proper Group 1 horse and he can prove that this year – he’s the market leader.

On Saturday we stick with the Flat despite Sandown’s jumps finale, on a weekend during which yet more Classic contenders should make themselves known.

Friday 22nd April 2022

1.50 Sandown (Esher Cup Handicap) – BLUE TRAIL 

A competitive race, as the Esher Cup usually is, but we simply cannot ignore the form of Blue Trail at the head of the market, nor that of his red-hot trainer Charlie Appleby.

Having only made his debut on the all-weather in January the Teofilo offspring has already improved plenty. Second on his first start, Blue Trail has gone on to win easily at Southwell before then holding off Harrow and Find in a valuable conditions race at Kempton.

I feel as though he’s itching for the turf now, he’s drawn well, was very solid before his latest run and will see it out up the Sandown straight much better than many in this line-up under top jock William Buick.

Find reopposes and also holds solid place chances, while Wanees makes his seasonal debut as a horse who has won on both fast and deep ground as a novice.

3.00 Sandown (bet365 Mile – Group 2) – MUTASAABEQ

After he won ever so easily during the Craven meeting last year, I genuinely fancied Mutasaabeq against the big guns in the 2000 Guineas.

He was a solid if unspectacular seventh in the Classic before failing on the heavy ground in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He won easily in a small race at Haydock next time and was impressive on unsuitable ground at Thirsk on his seasonal debut two weeks ago and now he can prove he’s ready for the big time. If he puts it all together, he can prove he is top class.

The likely short-priced favourite is the Cheveley Park, Fred Darling, Coronation Stakes and Sussex Stakes heroine Alcohol Free and she deserves that place in the market.

In these conditions and on her seasonal bow, I do feel that she may be some way short of her best and at the odds I’m willing to take a chance on that.

Sunray Major was a big improver and may belatedly get to the top, while Lights On is surely better on soft and Lincoln winner Johan may just be outclassed.

3.35 Sandown (Classic Trial – Group 3) – GOLDSPUR

Last year’s renewal of the Classic Trial was a belter, at least with the benefit of hindsight anyway.

Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and Will Buick’s Goldspur is being quoted at short prices for this race but his odds reflect his rock-solid form as well as that of the team overall and he looks a real Derby contender.

Extremely impressive on debut here last September, Goldspur went on to upset teammate Hafit in the Group 3 Zetland Stakes by utilising his excellent stamina.

Thrown into a Group 1 in France exactly two weeks later, there was always a danger that the race would come too soon and indeed he was very narrowly beaten at Saint-Cloud.

Based on what was expected of him in France as the 7/5 favourite and with just normal progression, he should reach a level here that makes him too good for the opposition and we know he’ll see this out well.

Franz Strauss won at Newcastle on debut in a race that should be upgraded, certainly his form with impressive Feilden Stakes winner Eydon makes him look overpriced, while fellow Gosden horse Frantastic is an unknown quantity.

Aidan O’Brien sends impressive maiden winner River Thames over, but even based on expected progression and the subsequent form of the runner-up from his first win he may just be one rung below Goldspur on the ladder at this stage.

Saturday 23rd April 2022

2.40 Haydock (Novice Stakes) – WONDERFUL TIMES 

John and Thady Gosden send debutant Wonderful Times up to Haydock for this novice race and she is the only unraced filly in the line-up.

Normandie Stud’s representative is a beautifully bred Golden Horn/Galileo cross and there should be plenty expected of her now she’s ready to rock.

Looking at the opposition and taking into account Love Interest’s 7lb penalty, Wonderful Times will probably need to run to a mark somewhere in the early 80’s to win which surely the team would expect given her profile.

3.45 Haydock (Handicap) – KINGMANIA

Newmarket trainer Chris Wall sends Kingmania here and the 4yo Kingman filly hasn’t run for 287 days.

She is way ahead however on my private adjusted speed ratings, so if speed is important today then she looks good and can afford to be a few pounds below her best. Jack Mitchell is riding well, too.

3.51 Leicester (Novice Stakes) – RULING DYNASTY

This could turn out to be a high-quality novice race and should be watched closely.

If I’m right about the chance of Wonderful Times, then it speaks volumes that Frankie Dettori comes to Leicester instead of going to Haydock to ride her.

His mount here, one of two on the card for owner Bjorn Neilsen, is Magisterial and the Derby entrant has some experience having raced twice as a juvenile.

Though he could improve markedly, given his 7lb penalty and the form of those he’s beaten it may just take a performance somewhere in the early 90’s to beat him and that is something I feel Godolphin’s Ruling Dynasty can do on debut.

We know Charlie Appleby can get them ready first time. In fact, most of his juveniles run consistently to marks in the mid-80’s on their first run so as a three-year-old in late April and given the stonking form of the stable, the required level looks to be within Ruling Dynasty’s grasp.

He is in the Derby too of course and could add to the team’s growing Classic contender list, while William Buick is on hand to take the ride.

Friday 15 April 2022

Friday 15th & Saturday 16th April 2022: Go With the Tiber Flow on Good Friday

Another bumper weekend and a very busy one for us from a punting point of view.

Friday is all about the all-weather, in fact Newcastle makes its debut as the host of the £1 million All-Weather Championships Finals Day.

On Saturday, Newbury hosts the Spring Cup as well as three Group 3 races, though we have no bet in a close Greenham Stakes.

It’s close too in Newcastle’s opening Listed Burradon Stakes in which Dubai Poet can put it up to Imperial Fighter, but we have selections in all of their other races beginning with the Mile.

Friday 15th April 2022

2.00 Newcastle (All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes) – AMILCAR 

After winning at Southwell on this Tapeta surface and then finishing just 4½ lengths behind Lord North in a Group 1 race, William Haggas’ My Oberon should be all the rage on track. He’s undoubtedly good, but he remains vulnerable in what is a quality race worth £150,000. 

Roger Varian could be on for a good day and his La Tihaty won four in a row on the all-weather earlier in the year, but he wasn’t as good on this sort of surface last time.

The French raider Amilcar presents the most value. A winner at Deauville in December, he’s improving and was unlucky at Wolverhampton last time out. He should have no such trouble this time and he wants this stiff mile too.

2.35 Newcastle (All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes) – BOUTTEMONT 

At 4/1 or bigger the field, the sprint race has the look of a typical Saturday handicap about it at a glance.

While familiar names such as Harry’s Bar, Ejtilaab, Soldier’s Minute, Edraak and Venturous could all make their presence felt, this could be another one for the French.

Already in good form, the four-year-old Bouttemont took a big step forward when winning at Chantilly five weeks ago and the form of the race is solid. He stayed on beautifully over 6½ furlongs there so this surface, and the stiff nature of the track, should be ideal for Gregory Benoist and his mount.

3.10 Newcastle (3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes) – TIBER FLOW 

Over the same six-furlong course is the three-year-old’s race, though this one looks less competitive. Kaboo retains ability, Annaf could be decent and Space Cowboy is an each-way play.

El Caballo will be the one for money after winning four in a row, including one at Newcastle, but Tiber Flow is the one that caught the eye most.

Unbeaten in three races for William Haggas, the Caravaggio colt has won over six and seven furlongs at Newcastle and hosed up last time at Wolverhampton. Tom Marquand is on board.

3.45 Newcastle (All-Weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes) – INTERNATIONALANGEL

John Quinn’s Highfield Princess is a smashing type. She’s tough, handles this surface and has a Listed success over Wednesday’s Abernant winner Double Or Bubble under her name.

As consistent as she is, she is passed over here in favour of Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Internationalangel. The five-year-old mare was a very good winner over this course and distance two outings ago, winning her sixth race in a row.

If she’s still fit and fresh, she may have too much here ahead of the favourite and Arousing for Hollie Doyle.

3.55 Chelmsford (Handicap) – TRAWLERMAN 

We nip down to Chelmsford for one race, their decent Class 2 mile-a-quarter handicap.

Inigo Jones is bound to improve this year, Group One Power is overpriced and U S S Michigan has solid recent form.

Godolphin’s Trawlerman however, trained by the Gosdens, started his three-year-old career in emphatic fashion last year. He was then sent into what was a very hot Classic Trial at Sandown, a race in which he was just 11/2 alongside the likes of Alenquer, Yibir, Adayar and Lone Eagle.

He’s had time off, but he’s clearly way better than a 93 horse and can prove it here.

4.15 Newcastle (All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes) – MARSHALL PLAN 

Despite Trawlerman’s very obvious chances at Chelmsford, Frankie Dettori heads to Newcastle to ride Marshall Plan who is another for Godolphin who has always been well thought of.

He’s finished behind some really nice types, but for me he’s done it on the wrong surface. He was excellent in his sole win at Wolverhampton on the Tapeta, found the pace too strong and didn’t enjoy a great trip at Newcastle last summer and so will love the return to this surface as well as the extended two-mile trip.

Earlofthecotswolds is good but may prefer it elsewhere, Sleeping Lion should be favourite and Rainbow Dreamer is another in with a shot.

4.45 Newcastle (Easter Classic) – AL ZARAQAAN 

The £200,000 Easter Classic over 1¼ miles is all about Roger Varian’s Tyrrhenian Sea according to the betting.

He won three times in a row at Newcastle before being a very unlucky loser at Kempton, so returning here in a conditions race really does make him look rock solid.

Al Zaraqaan once upon a time had a similar profile. He did his winning elsewhere for William Haggas, but his debut this year for Archie Watson was right here and it was excellent.

He was thought of as a Winter Derby horse and while that didn’t work out, he’s not finished yet. He remains lightly raced, this is his trip, this is also his best surface to my mind and he’s way overpriced. Hollie Doyle rides.

Saturday 16th April 2022

1.50 Newbury (John Porter Stakes – Group 3) – STOWELL 

A very nice race. Thunderous is solid, Ilaraab’s chances are obvious and Raymond Tusk will get plenty of support. John & Thady Gosden’s Stowell however will prove to be the best of them in time, hopefully immediately.

An excellent and slightly unlucky third to Kemari at Royal Ascot last year, he stays very well but has plenty of class too so if he is 100% after his enforced break, he can get home under a familiarly classy Frankie Dettori ride.

2.25 Newbury (Fred Darling Stakes – Group 3) – WILD BEAUTY

A proper trial for the 1000 Guineas and perhaps another big win for Charlie Appleby, William Buick and Godolphin.

Having been left behind at the start, Wild Beauty was excellent in winning her Grade 1 in North America last year and she really should have gone to the Breeders’ Cup rather than coming back quickly to tackle Inspiral in the Fillies’ Mile.

This is more her bag, the trip is fine and she may take some beating despite the presence of Jumbly, Miss Carol Ann, Majestic Glory and the potential star Shaara.

Friday 8 April 2022

Friday 8th & Saturday 9th April 2022: Mount Up for a Grand National Belter

The Grand National is now upon us. Britain’s most famous race, and the country’s biggest betting event too, is run at Aintree on Saturday and we have a keenly priced selection in the big one along with plenty of other information for Friday and Saturday.

Friday 8th April 2022

1.45 Aintree (Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3) – LANGER DAN

Dan Skelton’s Langer Dan was backed off the boards for the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival and he was desperately unlucky there to be brought down at the second hurdle.

He’s been readied superbly to win a valuable handicap and this could prove to be great compensation gained while he is still fresh.

He had a similar prep last season before winning the Imperial Cup and finishing second in the Martin Pipe, and I reckon that he remains better handicapped than main rivals Cobblers Dream and Speech Bubble.

5.25 Kempton (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes) – TIMELESS MELODY

There are a couple of interesting newcomers here, so do watch out for any significant money for John and Thady Gosden’s Glorious Romance or William Haggas’ Hello Jumeirah.

Delphinus brings the best form into the race on paper, but there should be a lot more to come from Charlie Appleby’s Timeless Melody and she is the selection in this 1m3f contest.

Appleby saddled three in a one-mile fillies’ novice at Newcastle back in February, the trio finishing second, third and fourth in the correct order according to the betting.

Timeless Melody was the last of those, losing a couple of places late on, but the form of the others has been more than a little encouraging since then. The daughter of Teofilo has been given plenty of time and Will Buick is on hand to guide her round, his only mount of the day.

Saturday 9th April 2022

2.25 Aintree (Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – WALKING ON AIR

Nicky Henderson’s Epatante simply cruised into the race over 2m4f on Thursday around here, and now it’s hoped that a stablemate at the other end of his career can do the same.

Walking On Air can’t match the experience of Stage Star, Three Stripe Life or North Lodge, but boy is there some talent there.

The five-year-old has had only one bumper and one hurdle start to date, the latter culminating in a completely facile win at Newbury.

He had any amount in hand, in reality probably running to about 20-25lbs better than a horse who has since won and is rated 122. That puts Walking On Air close to the 150-mark potentially, something only Three Stripe Life can match though I reckon the younger horse can improve past him now.

3.35 Aintree (Liverpool Hurdle – Grade 1) – THYME HILL 

Champ is probably just going a little backwards now and this race could be down to the Cheltenham Festival 1-2 from the Stayers’ Hurdle; Flooring Porter and Thyme Hill. Flooring Porter did what he does that day, but benefitted from a fantastic ride from Danny Mullins.

Aintree is very different though and it should suit last year’s winner Thyme Hill. Philip Hobbs’ star is still improving and can turn the tables on Flooring Porter.

5.15 Aintree (Grand National – Grade 3) – MOUNT IDA 

You don’t have to be a fan of Gordon Elliott to appreciate how good he is with these big staying races, or how lucky he is to have so many such types to choose from which may equally be the case.

There may be no Tiger Roll now, but Elliott’s yard still has several in with a serious chance this year including Escaria Ten and Run Wild Fred. I like those two, but the one I like best is Mount Ida.

There’s been a lot of talk about mares and their ability, or perceived inability, to win this race. As it happens, I also like the mare Snow Leopardess who should go off favourite for this race but in a strange twist she isn’t the mare I like most!

Mount Ida may be better handicapped, despite carrying 11-5. Unplaced only once in chase races, the daughter of Yeats has been running over shorter distances which is just good prep, although she won the 3m2f Kim Muir easily at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and is a near certain stayer.

Any Second Now is another to consider along with the previously mentioned runners, but in this extraordinary race you could do worse at the odds than use Mount Ida in your various win, each-way and perhaps exotic bets.

9.45 Aqueduct (Wood Memorial Stakes – Grade 2) – MORELLO 

The last three races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby are run this weekend, perhaps the strongest three in fact.

Over in California, Messier and Forbidden Kingdom renew rivalry in the Santa Anita Derby. They boast the strongest form so far and in taking each other on again at Grade 1 level will have to put it all in. Whoever wins will likely be favourite for Churchill Downs on May 7, but won’t have much if any improvement to come.

In Kentucky, Keeneland hosts the Blue Grass Stakes. Smile Happy is favourite for that one but has been drawn wide. He may or may not get the better of Emmanuel, with a win for Smile Happy in this Grade 1 probably just seeing Epicenter’s odds shrink further at the top of the market.

We stick with New York and the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct. If I were forced to back a horse in the Kentucky Derby now, it would be Morello.

Bred for the job by Classic Empire, Steve Asmussen’s colt was a facile winner of the Gotham Stakes over a mile back in March.

He hardly broke a sweat that day meaning, unlike so many others on the trail, he has plenty more to give and it’s clear that they think plenty of him at home.

Mo Donegal and Early Voting feature fairly highly in the Derby betting, but aren’t in the same league as Morello on a level playing field and I reckon it’s Jose Lezcano’s mount who makes a bold claim for the Run for the Roses on Saturday.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Saturday 2nd April 2022: Early Drama for Our Saturday Picks

It’s Scottish Grand National day at Ayr, while Newbury and Chepstow also keep the jump racing action going for another Saturday.

There are early classic trials at Leopardstown and all-weather action at Wolverhampton and Lingfield. The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with the Arkansas Derby, in which filly Secret Oath should go well, and the Florida Derby too, both Grade 1’s, one of which we have a bet in.

Our three afternoon selections all face the starter within ten minutes of each other, so be prepared for punting to be fast and furious!

3.00 Ayr (Future Champion Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – MINELLA DRAMA

Brian Hughes is probably the best jockey in the business, a real champion in my book, while trainer Donald McCain is approaching 150 winners for the season.

McCain has gone on record to say that his Minella Drama can be tricky and they’re taking a chance on going left-handed with him at Ayr, but he undoubtedly has the class to win this race and he is priced up more than fairly to get the job done.

Second to My Drogo in the Mersey Hurdle last year, he’s done well over fences with Hughes’ help and was a facile winner of the Grade 2 Altcar Novices’ Chase at Haydock in January.

Known to be a little in-and-out, he wasn’t so good last time when running behind Pic D’Orhy and Millers Bank in the Pendil, but if he’s back to his best here then he has plenty in his favour.

He does have to give 5lbs to Do Your Job, but he could be significantly better than Michael Scudamore’s runner who obtained his 144 rating in a competitive handicap at Newcastle.

Minella Drama has more to give I reckon, has a year on his nearest rival and can be expertly guided around the track.

3.05 Lingfield (Fillies’ Handicap) – VALENTINKA 

We have just the six runners for this fillies’ handicap and at first glance it looks very tight between four of them.

Sayifyouwill is very well fancied for Amanda Perrett, coming into the race on the back of two wins in February and March and it could be that the handicapper hasn’t caught up with her yet.

Her wins did come at Kempton Park though and she wasn’t so good at Lingfield the time before, so given the change of venue and the fact she’s up another 3lbs it may well be that she just struggles a bit.

Verreaux Eagle represents Ed Dunlop and Tom Marquand and is another that has to prove she can handle Lingfield. A winner over seven furlongs (today’s trip) at Kempton last October, she’s since been running on the Tapeta at Newcastle and Wolverhampton without landing too heavy a blow.

Dubai Lady is a huge danger for the George Boughey yard. Only three runs into her career, the four-year-old was a debut winner at Newcastle in the winter before finishing second at Kempton. She was down the field last time but clearly has ability, in fact losing out may have just saved her going up the handicap.

The best of the bunch for me is Marco Botti’s Valentinka. An improving four-year-old, Valentinka was a speedy-looking winner on this track in November over a mile with the drop in trip surely suiting now. Second last time over this distance, she perhaps couldn’t show her best at Wolverhampton with today’s venue much more suitable.

3.10 Leopardstown (1000 Guineas Trial Stakes – Group 3) – SACRED BRIDGE

It’s an important day at Leopardstown with three prominent classic trials taking place. Though betting opportunities I feel are slim in the 2000 Guineas Trial and the Ballysax Stakes, it could be that we are being given too generous a price in this race about a filly we already know to be top class.

The filly in question is Sacred Bridge. Owned and bred by Juddmonte, trained by Ger Lyons and ridden by Colin Keane, the most immediate of boxes are already ticked but there’s more substance to this selection than that.

After making an excellent debut ahead of Agartha, who has to give her 3lbs today, two more juvenile wins followed for Sacred Bridge before she was sent to the Curragh for a Group 3 affair.

After destroying her field there, she was regarded as one of the best in the business within her age group, going off 13/8 favourite for the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

She didn’t run well in truth behind Tenebrism and the likes, but she could have gone off the boil by then and we’re hoping she was/is ready for a step up in trip to this seven furlongs.

By sprinter Bated Breath, she is out of a Beat Hollow mare so there is hope that she can see this out, which is the only sticking point for her despite the presence of an Aidan O’Brien debut winner (Contarelli Chapel), the aforementioned Agartha and Dermot Weld’s Homeless Songs.

11.38 Gulfstream Park (Florida Derby – Grade 1) – CLASSIC CAUSEWAY 

Along with the Santa Anita Derby, the Florida Derby is the most important Kentucky Derby prep race these days and so whoever wins this will most likely head the market after this weekend for the big one on May 7.

Classic Causeway is a horse I’ve been watching for a long time and he is in this contest, in fact he is the surprising third-favourite with American pundits after his Tampa Bay Derby win suggesting they weren’t too impressed by him.

A real improver, Classic Causeway is one of the last potential top-class horses by Giant’s Causeway that we’ll see and he has gone from third in the Breeders’ Futurity to second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, to now a double winner having taken down the Sam F. Davis and the Tampa Bay Derby.

I reckon he’s the best of this bunch. Charge It is impressive-looking but has beaten nothing of note yet, Simplification won the Fountain of Youth last time but was behind White Abarrio before in the Holy Bull and he could be the biggest danger.