Irish Guineas weekend is the highlight this week, along with excellent meetings at Haydock, Goodwood and York among others.
Friday 26th May 2023
2.05 Haydock (Handicap) – MAGHLAAK
This looks like a good opportunity for Charlie Hills’ lightly-raced Shadwell colt Maghlaak to score. He has been improving nicely race by race and conditions look ideal for him now. Tamarama and Spirit Of The Bay look likely to give him most to do.
3.00 Goodwood (Height of Fashion – Listed Race) – VEIL OF SHADOWS
A busy-looking Listed race over 1¼ miles, though few of the 11 runners are proven at this sort of grade.
Blue Missile is the likely favourite and she could be well capable, but there’s not enough evidence for that yet. Inner Space too really needs to improve quickly, as does Understated.
Araminta and Heavenly Breath are two we can concentrate on. The former has a major chance if handling fast ground, but she has only run on very soft going so far and Gleneagles’ best progeny also favoured that.
Veil Of Shadows is close after two runs to the required level and looks more likely to get there in the conditions. A Frankel-Kingmambo cross, she is a half-sister to Impulsif who didn’t want it too soft in France.
Form-wise, she stayed on nicely over a mile behind Queen For You, now rated 100, and may have beaten her over this trip while she also conceded 9lbs that day.
3.15 Haydock (Cecil Frail Stakes – Listed Race) – GET AHEAD
Both Makarova and Kape Moss need to improve, though both might, while Gale Force Maya is the class in the race but is getting older and needs to give away weight.
The most interesting filly is Clive Cox’s Get Ahead. I really fancied her on her seasonal debut at Bath and she ran very well. She did suffer all sorts of bad luck however then perhaps didn’t like the ground last time.
She is ready to get up to around the 105 level now and that should be enough to win this race. Richard Kingscote takes the ride.
3.35 Goodwood (Handicap) – AUTUMN FESTIVAL
Though being drawn 9 of 9 is far from ideal, had it been 9 of 20 we wouldn’t care too much so Autumn Festival may not be too inconvenienced.
David O’Meara sends this four-year-old down to Goodwood and he looks the best handicapped horse in the race. Improving overall but having had a fairly quiet start to the season, he is coming to his peak now and has the right jockey on board in William Buick.
Nizaaka, Ropey Guest and Lyndon B may all challenge for places.
Saturday 27th May 2023
1.30 Goodwood (Festival Stakes – Listed Race) – KING OF CONQUEST
El Drama is solid enough in this mile-and-a-quarter contest, while most of the attention will go on Francesco Clemente.
The Gosden runner racked up three easy wins last year and looked to be heading to the top. He may yet get there and has an entry in a Royal Ascot Group 1, but much like the stable’s Without Parole and other runners in the past, he won’t be asked for too much in his prep after a long time off.
He can of course go well, but at the odds it’s worth taking a chance on King Of Conquest stepping out of handicap company. He is improving hand over fist for Charlie Appleby and may be tough for the favourite to beat.
1.50 Haydock (Hell Nook Handicap) – MOUNTAIN ROAD
Just the seven runners for this two-mile handicap, but there is plenty of competition.
Carzola could be a short price. He may well win this, but his price is based on an easy win last time on soft ground. He took a big step forward on that surface and such progress could be halted in these conditions.
Firstman cannot be dismissed lightly at all, while Law Of The Sea was really eye-catching in the Chester Cup and looks ready to win now.
The value however could be Mountain Road. He has been undervalued after his all-weather success, he is improving fast and he’ll love these quick conditions too.
2.05 Goodwood (Handicap) – TAFREEJ
While Dark Thirty, Yacowlef and Bresson are all perfectly solid, William Haggas’ Tafreej is most definitely better in. His season opener wasn’t the best, but he was favourite and it is accepted now that he’ll be significantly better on fast ground.
2.25 Haydock (Silver Bowl – Heritage Handicap) – COVEY
John & Thady Gosden’s Covey, a Juddmonte colt by Frankel, has won his last two races ever so easily and should head this market.
Last time out at Newcastle in fact, though admittedly the competition was sub-par, he won his race in an absolute hack canter. Based on the ratings of those in behind, he ran closer to a mark of 97 or 98 there rather than the 90 he’s been given. He could have achieved more that day and he’s improving, so he could be very well handicapped indeed now.
2.30 Curragh (Greenlands Stakes – Group 2) – GARRUS
Garrus is really maturing as a sprinter. He’s quick enough and could have stayed close to home to contest the Temple Stakes this weekend, but six furlongs at the Curragh is much more to his liking and he should go very well here.
If he runs to his best or, as is expected improves a little, he should prove to be better than Twilight Jet, Art Power, Coachello and Moss Tucker.
3.40 Curragh (Irish 2000 Guineas – Group 1) – ROYAL SCOTSMAN
There is rock-solid form running right through Royal Scotsman’s profile and connections of the 2000 Guineas third seem really bullish about him being a better animal than at Newmarket three weeks ago.
On all known evidence he is the best horse in this race, and he can take the Irish Classic ahead of Proud And Regal, Charyn, Hi Royal and Cairo.
4.20 Goodwood (Fillies’ Handicap) – SUNSET POINT
Though it wasn’t discussed in advance, it appears Sunset Point was in the Lingfield Oaks Trial to make the running for winning stablemate Eternal Hope. She lost three places at the death in that race and is worth a good 7lbs more than her official rating when allowed to do her own thing. Good Morals, Rikona and Crystal Estrella can all make their presence felt.