After Chester comes the Derby and Oaks trials at Lingfield, as well as the Victoria Cup at Ascot. The Flat season moves fast, we’re at York for a biggie during next week, while we’ll be back here for the Lockinge next weekend. Ascot is our first port of call on Saturday.
Saturday 13th May 2023
2.05 Ascot (Fillies’ Handicap) – TIMELESS MELODY
Charlie Appleby’s Mountain Song did it nicely at Southwell last time, is improving and should appreciate this test being a Sea The Stars filly. There is just the chance that, as a three-year-old on this ground, she may struggle against the older fillies.
Step forward William Haggas’ Timeless Melody. There’s no doubt that she is well handicapped given the way she won last time at Leicester. She did that on heavy ground too so there are no worries about conditions, while if anything she should be better again over this mile and it’s hard to ignore her chances off a mark of 80.
2.25 Lingfield (Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes – Group 3) – SACRED
This important Lingfield card has been moved from the turf to the all-weather track due to waterlogging and that could be a real piece of luck for Sacred.
When conditions have been quick, she’s been seen to her best effect and, though it feels like she’s been around forever, her best is yet to come. She can scuttle clear here under the top-class, bang in form Ryan Moore who rides Lingfield perfectly.
Sandrine and Queen Aminatu are sure to be the best of the others.
2.40 Ascot (Victoria Cup – Heritage Handicap) – KINGDOM COME
This is a tough old betting race. Plenty of money will be going the way of Baradar in these conditions, and a special horse can win from the far side of the track but Baradar may well not be in that category quite.
Others handicapped to go well are Safe Voyage, Biggles, Vafortino and Totally Charming but the one to watch is Kingdom Come.
Clive Cox trains this four-year-old who is massively improving. He’s racked up a hat-trick on the all-weather with the form working out really well, while plenty of Kingman’s other progeny don’t go backwards for running on soft ground so I don’t mind that either. He’s drawn OK in 18 under Kieran Shoemark.
3.00 Lingfield (Oaks Trial – Listed Race) – ETERNAL HOPE
This is not a strong Oaks trial by any means, at least not on paper, which is why it may pay to take a chance on second-favourite Eternal Hope.
Aidan O’Brien’s Be Happy is the market leader, but she had to give her all in a Group 3 when last seen, putting in a performance rating her 99 and so she doesn’t set a big standard at all.
Bright Diamond will be dangerous if staying, but Charlie Appleby has no doubt left plenty for Eternal Hope to find after an easy win 77 days ago and we should see a different filly now.
3.10 Ascot (Novice Stakes) – OCEAN RUNNER
This five-furlong juvenile event is always one to watch. It was won by Aqabah (rated 105), Blown By Wind (102), Expressionist who went to the Norfolk Stakes, top-class Go Bears Go and most recently by Noble Style who is a Group 2 winner and ran in the Guineas last week.
He was trained by Charlie Appleby who could win it again with Ocean Runner. This horse is one of the Blue Point progeny. He loved Ascot and his horses are making lightning starts, which Harry Davies’ mount may too.
3.35 Lingfield (Derby Trial – Listed Race) – MILITARY ORDER
In the hope, just the hope, that he goes off at a backable price, Military Order is the confident selection in the Derby Trial.
He’s beautifully bred, in fact he’s a full brother to 2021 Derby winner Adayar no less, he ran by reckoning to a mark of around 110 last time and will improve again now. If he does, he creeps to three-year-old Group 1 class already and shouldn’t be beaten despite the potential of Circle Of Fire and Inquiring Minds.
Military Order is third-favourite for the Derby as we speak, but a convincing win may even see him lead the way come Saturday night.
3.45 Ascot (Handicap) – WESTERTON
I backed Westerton when he made his seasonal debut for Alan King at Doncaster. He was second there, but under par and it may just be that he needed the run.
He is well handicapped, of that there is no doubt at all, so with some doubts about one or two others truly getting home here he is more than worth another shot. Shahbaz and Maasai Mara are best of the rest.
3.50 Haydock (Spring Trophy – Listed Race) – AL MUBHIR
Angel Bleu was rated 115 at his peak, but that peak was a year and a half ago now. True, he’s only four, but there have been no real signs of his top form for a while including this year.
Our favourite Al Mubhir, who I thought would win the Lincoln but did win very well last time, can get beyond the 110 mark now and that should be enough to win this for William Haggas and Tom Marquand. Escobar and Mums Tipple are solid in behind.
8.07 Belmont Park (Man o’ War Stakes – Grade 1) – WARREN POINT
This is no Grade 1 gimme for the Charlie Appleby team, but he and Godolphin’s willingness to travel can pay off once again with their improving middle-distance runner Warren Point who is now ready for this.
Frankie Dettori has travelled across to New York to take the ride, though he got a couple wrong last summer so he’ll need to be at his best this time.
Sunday 14th May 2023
2.50 Longchamp (Poule d’Essai des Poulains – Group 1) – KNIGHT
Though he’s no certainty, Knight is a ridiculous price at the time of writing for the French 2000 Guineas.
Touching 20/1, Simon and Ed Crisford’s Horris Hill winner was ahead of all of his opposition on Sunday at the same career stage which shows his talent.
True, he ran no race in the Greenham, but that happens to the best of them, his team won’t send him to France if he’s useless and his odds now allow a small punt. James Doyle rides.
4.10 Longchamp (Prix Saint-Alary – Group 1) – BRIDESTONES
Another overpriced type is Bridestones, a filly I backed in the Fred Darling. She was nowhere near winning that, but was steadily staying on to get to within five lengths and, having won very smartly over a mile as a juvenile, it seems that the seven-furlong trip was against her.
The daughter of Teofilo is put straight up to ten furlongs here and looks excellent value for the Gosden team and jockey William Buick.