Friday, 13 May 2022

Friday 13th & Saturday 14th May 2022: Sunray a Major Challenger in Lockinge

It’s a Group 1 weekend once again as Newbury hosts the Lockinge Stakes.

All eyes will be on Baaeed and quite rightly so, though Newbury’s two-day meeting is about far more than that. Newmarket backs up the meet very well, while York’s Dante Festival comes to a close on Friday and features Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup among others.

Friday 13th May 2022

2.25 York (Michael Seely Memorial Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – GIRL ON FILM

I couldn’t quite find a worthwhile bet in the opening juvenile fillies’ Listed race, though I thought Yahsat was interesting, but there is a value punt to be had in the second race on the Knavesmire.

This Listed event over the mile features 12 three-year-old fillies, one of which was very heavily backed to score on debut. That winner was John & Thady Gosden’s Grande Dame and she could be a warm order here.

Although she justified her shortening price and was doing it nicely at the line, she had to work fairly hard during the race and it may be that there isn’t as much improvement to come as would normally be the case with a filly from this yard.

As a value alternative I like Girl On Film. A very good winner on debut last year before contesting the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes, she was a fair each-way shout for the 1000 Guineas I thought although she didn’t make it to Newmarket.

On a line through American winner Tezzaray and the likes of Jumbly and Guineas winner Cachet, who she was close to in the Rockfel, she looks more than capable of reaching a level that the others may struggle to reach.

4.10 York (Handicap) – WILD CRUSADE 

Charlie Appleby and Godolphin have two top chances here in the shape of New Comedy (Frankie Dettori) and Wild Crusade (James Doyle).

Both have won their last two races, New Comedy on the turf last time out and Wild Crusade exclusively on the all-weather, while it is Frankie’s ride who gets the first-choice blue cap.

Despite that, James Doyle would surely have been given priority and he rides the horse I get just a few pounds ahead of his stablemate.

Wild Crusade has only had four runs, won ever so easily last time and beat Derby contender Nahanni before that.

4.20 Newbury (Handicap) – INDEPENDENT ACT 

Charlie Appleby has somewhat of a stranglehold on the 4.10 at York, yet first choice rider William Buick is at Newbury and I can see why.

He has a couple of very interesting novices to ride on the card, but also has a huge chance in this closing one-mile, three-furlong handicap.

March Moon is going to be the one for money I think, but Independent Act has lots more to come having only had three runs.

He represents some form which is crucial this weekend. Fourth in a hot handicap behind Educator at the Craven Festival, he took a keen hold that day and showed some inexperience but still managed a 2¾-length fourth.

He is going the right way, as is Israr who was just ahead of him (see below), and looks more than capable of landing a Class 4 event such as this.

Saturday 14th May 2022

1.35 Newbury (Carnarvon Stakes – Listed Race) – TIBER FLOW 

The first five races at Newbury are fantastic, all for different reasons, beginning with this competitive Listed sprint for three-year-olds.

Some of the trainers involved here will have an eye on the Commonwealth Cup next month and the one I like to prep perfectly for that is William Haggas’s Tiber Flow.

I liked his chances of remaining unbeaten at Newcastle on All-Weather Championships Finals Day and while he was ultimately narrowly beaten there, he continued his improvement.

That’s a slower track and yet he’s shown some great speed on the Tapeta surfaces. I fancy he can cut loose a little more here and see off the challenges of Hierarchy and Cadamosto under Tom Marquand.

2.10 Newbury (Al Rayyan Stakes – Group 3) – ESHAADA 

Eshaada is heavily penalised for last autumn’s Group 1 win on Champions Day, but she’s a proper filly and she can begin this campaign the right way.

Roger Varian’s four-year-old has some real star quality about her and the team may be thinking about the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the year for her.

At the weights Foxes Tales and Without A Fight have a chance, Ilaraab will be fancied too, but it’s Jim Crowley’s mount who gets the nod.

2.45 Newbury (London Gold Cup Handicap) – ISRAR 

This is a hugely competitive three-year-old handicap on the face of it, but as explained above I love the form of the race Israr took part in at Newmarket and he wasn’t at his best there either.

Improving plenty overall, the Gosden runner was slowly away and got himself unbalanced in the Dip at a crucial time at HQ, though things should be more straightforward here and he has that valuable experience under his belt too.

He’s not been touched by the handicapper which is crucial and he may prove to be the best of this bunch. Red Vineyard and Surrey Mist were next on the list.

3.20 Newbury (Lockinge Stakes – Group 1) – SUNRAY MAJOR (place) 

This race is all about the exceptional Baaeed and it would be great for racing if he took the contest apart.

That may or may not happen, but at the prices listed on Thursday we could claim between 5/1 and 7/1 for a first three place on Sunray Major and that’s the call.

Although a five-year-old now, he’s improving and maybe needed his seasonal debut. He was heading the right way last season when winning at Chelmsford and Ascot and can get to the level shown by the likes of Real World, Mother Earth and Alcohol Free which makes his place odds look silly.

4.30 Newbury (Fillies’ Trial Stakes – Listed Race) – MUKADDAMAH 

Nashwa was a good winner three weeks ago for the Gosdens and she’s had her form advertised well by a stablemate since.

A chance is taken however on Roger Varian’s Mukaddamah who ran to a similar level behind the aforementioned Grande Dame last time out, giving that one 5lbs.

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