Our racing expert gives his verdict on the televised action.
2:15 2m (2m45y) Amix Ready Mixed Concrete Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-100)
A tough-looking handicap with most holding claims but EUCHEN GLEN should go close back at this more galloping track, having raced too keenly and wider than ideal when seventh in the Chester Cup a couple of weeks ago. Jim Goldie’s strong stayer had previously finished a close third on his reappearance and is just 1lb higher than when winning over this trip at Ascot last August, when held up under a patient ride and displaying a nice finishing kick. The faster they go here the better for him and the 13/2 on offer at Coral seems very fair.
The Grand Visir looked in need of the race on his return at Newmarket and this Ascot Gold Cup entry could give the selection most to do, providing he sees out the longer trip.
2:50 1m (1m37y) Amix Silver Bowl Handicap (Class 2) (3yo)
There should be more to come from Crack On Crack On, who was described by Clive Cox as a “big baby” after scoring on his reappearance at Lingfield, and he’s a deserving favourite. Richard Hannon’s Qaysar is next in the betting and he too is respected having made it three wins from four starts at Newbury last time. He holds a Group 1 entry in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
But this is ultra competitive and I’d rather take a double-digit price on Michael Bell’s HIGHLIGHT REEL after he caught the eye when reappearing at Ascot 15 days ago. A comfortable winner on his fourth and final start at Newmarket last season, he still appeared to be cantering two furlongs out only to run into the back of the favourite soon after, which cost him valuable momentum and his winning chance. On that evidence, he has done well from two to three, having been gelded in the meantime, and a big-field handicap run at a good pace, which seems likely, is probably ideal for him as he is the type who likes to be delivered late on. With just 8st 2lb on his back, meaning he’s getting weight from all his rivals, and with Hayley Turner riding close to her minimum, he’s well worth an each-way tickle at bet365’s 12/1.
3:25 6f Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo)
A cracking renewal involving several speedy three-year-olds all of whom are entered in the Commonwealth Cup. INVINCIBLE ARMY is already a single-figure price for that Royal Ascot sprint having impressed in a Group 3 on his Ascot reappearance and that gives him the edge in fitness over the returning Heartache, who represents last year’s winning trainer Clive Cox and is trying 6f for the first time. That shouldn’t be a problem given how strong she was at the finish when bagging a couple of Group 2s over 5f last year.
However, the selection is already proven over it and while he lost out to a few of these in several starts at two, he has grown considerably since and could well turn out to be the best of the lot this year. He was able to make a winning return despite not looking totally happy on the soft ground and without Ryan Moore having to ask for maximum effort, and is going to improve again for today’s better ground. Let’s take bet365’s 4/1.
Of the rest, James Garfield didn’t look an out-and-out sprinter when winning the Greenham before going on to finish seventh in the 2000 Guineas, and I’d be more worried about Gimcrack winner Sands Of Mali, who looked to have done well from two to three when winning at Chantilly last month. Emblazoned is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Lingfield and Yarmouth but this is altogether tougher. Both Barraquero and Unfortunately might need their first runs back and neither of their stables are exactly firing on all cylinders.
4:00 5f Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (3yo+)
The day’s feature is all about the brilliant BATTAASH who is odds-on to make a successful comeback, with Betfair one of a couple of firms offering 5/6. While I won’t be rushing to back him at such a short price first time up under a penalty, I won’t be taking him on here as he has at least 10lb in hand over today’s rivals and is reported to be fit and ready to run by his Charlie Hills, albeit he might be just be a bit fresh.
Should he not run up to his best, Kachy looks the most obvious one of his ten rivals to take advantage having demolished his rivals at Chester to make it three wins from four starts in 2018. He was just touched off by Magical Memory at this track last summer and given his blistering speed from the gate he seems certain to blast out in front. However, he was a disappointing fifth in last year’s race and I would be surprised if the favourite can’t reel him in close home.
Mabs Cross won four times as a juvenile, including once over track and trip, and her latest success in a Group 3 at Newmarket suggests she’s still on the upgrade. At 16/1 with bet365, she is one for each-way backers.
Haydock 2.15, Euchen Glen @ 13/2 Coral
Haydock 2.50, Highlight Reel each-way @ 12/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 220.127.116.11)
Haydock 3.25, Invincible Army @ 4/1 bet365
Haydock 4.00, Battaash @ 5/6 Betfair / Mabs Cross each-way @ 16/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
All odds were correct at time of posting.