Friday 17 March 2023

Saturday 18th March 2023: Surrey Not to Be Missed

After the four day long jumping jamboree that is the Cheltenham Festival, we’re a little all over the place this weekend.

There is more jumping to be done at Fontwell, Doncaster, Kempton, Uttoxeter and Newcastle and in fact we have information for the latter two venues.

We’re also on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, skipping across to France for some Flat pattern action on the turf and we even begin very early in the morning down in Australia where there is British interest among the Group 1 racing in Sydney.

4.15 (AM) Rosehill (Ranvet Stakes – Group 1) – DUBAI HONOUR 

The Ranvet is a $1 million race and a very important part of Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival. Rosehill hosts this time, the Ranvet being over 2000 metres or pretty much one and a quarter miles.

This is the race William Haggas won with Addeybb a couple of years ago and he has sent four more horses to Sydney this time around.

One of them is Dubai Honour and, reading the Aussie press, they are very keen to take him on which could be a mistake.

His form is solid and he handles varying ground. This is his perfect trip, while we’re not certain what is best for other leading contenders Montefelia, Mo’unga, Hinged and Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip.

He’s no banker, that’s for sure, but he is up there challenging with the very best of them in this race and it yet again makes some of us ache for a Charlie Appleby or a John Gosden to send one of “our” proper Group 1 types to Australia.

2.50 Newcastle (Handicap Hurdle) – WAR SOLDIER

This market should remain competitive for us as while Voix Du Reve is heading backwards now he is still a big name and will attract support, while Lebowski will also have supporters. Arguably, Albert’s Back has a better chance than both.

Ahead of those three, Nick Alexander’s Stainsby Girl is challenging for favouritism and is a last-time-out winner. She scored over the course and distance in fact and in simple fashion, though she was given a very easy lead that time and has been put up 5lbs. This is a better class of opposition.

Thereisnodoubt will by many people’s idea of the winner. Trained by Lucinda Russell, then ten-year-old has the form to win this but he’s been busy and has perhaps felt the effects of that on his last couple of runs at Kelso.

The one to be on may well be Sandy Thomson’s War Soldier. Given that he’s come through the novice route to this, winning at Newcastle and Haydock, he is likely better than his handicap mark. He was sent to Cheltenham for a Grade 2 and while that was above him, this race is not.

2.50 Saint-Cloud (Prix Exbury – Group 3) – SURREY MIST 

The Gerald Mosse-ridden Skaletti has won around Saint-Cloud twice before and is a very good yardstick.

He is capable of the level needed to win this and he may just do it, however his numbers are generally trending downwards which is to be expected of a now eight-year-old.

Five-year-old Kertez represents master trainer Andre Fabre and jockey Maxime Guyon so will attract plenty of support and the Intello gelding will also like these very soft conditions.

Once more he is generally at the right level, but the nod is given to British challenger Surrey Mist for Kevin Philippart De Foy.

After winning an ordinary handicap at Windsor in October, the up-and-coming four-year-old took in a Listed race at Deauville on bad ground before the season closed out and he won that ever so easily by four lengths. He can now take the next step under rider Ioritz Mendizabal.

3.00 Uttoxeter (Midlands Grand National – Class 1 Handicap) – GUETAPAN COLLONGES

Things are close here between the likes of The Galloping Bear, French Paradoxe, Bushypark and Guetapan Collonges.

Charlie Longsdon’s runner however, for owner JP McManus, has been well backed for a reason as his form is solid and he’s very much heading in the right direction. He is made for these marathon races and he should prove to be the best of this bunch.

3.25 Newcastle (Handicap Chase) – GERYVILLE

This Class 3 event is a qualifier for the Challenger Staying Chase Series.

The three most likely winners are Omar Maretti (Alex Hales), Small Present (Sue Smith) and Geryville (Micky Hammond) with the latter receiving my vote.

On very close inspection it seems the level of Geryville’s form is better than the others at the weights. He also has a little more time on his side and could improve quicker than his main rivals.

He has already finished ahead of Small Present by over two lengths (only 1lb worse off now) and has the assistance of top jockey Brian Hughes in the saddle.

3.25 Saint-Cloud (Prix la Camargo – Listed Race) – HEAVENLY BREATH

Another raid to Paris’s western suburbia is being organised by Lambourn’s Archie Watson who sends Heavenlyu Breath to this one-mile Listed race.

The grey filly, a daughter of Dark Angel, is no stranger to France having been sent to Longchamp last September for a Group 3 in which she was a fine second.

That was her third racecourse start and what is noticeable is how much she has improved between races. She is already the highest rated filly in this race, but if she does take another significant step forward she could put herself very comfortably clear of local challengers Angelaba, Autumn Starlight and Axdaliva.

Kieran Shoemark takes the ride.

7.00 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – WHIMSY 

In this rider-restricted race, it would be no surprise if the in-form Zealot were to go in again especially as young sensation Billy Loughnane can take 5lbs off. It may be that he needs to, however.

Others in with chances are Buxted Too for Ian Williams, Obsidian Knight for Terry Kent and Nolton Cross for Hugo Palmer but the one I think may be underestimated is Andrew Balding’s Whimsy.

The Tapeta as a slight unknown for this filly, but it suits plenty of horses and tends to be very fair.

On the Polytrack at Kempton last August she ran to a level that would have given her a strong chance at the weights for me, so bearing in mind that she is just a four-year-old we have to think she’s improved plenty since then.

Indeed, on good to soft turf at Newmarket last October, she ran very well to finish third behind Madame Ambassador and Swoon at Newmarket having led the way and she has a ideal draw here too in stall 1.

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