Brownsea Brink looks to have been primed for a race he ran third in 12 months ago
There is something for everyone this afternoon with quality flat action from Newbury competing for attention with a competitive eight-race jumps card from Ayr, featuring the Scottish Grand National.
I’ve covered the Ayr marathon at length elsewhere on this site, with Drop Out Joe and Catching On my two against the field, so I’ll concentrate on the flat action here. The three Group races dominate proceedings but the best betting race has to be the Spring Cup over a mile (3.25pm), with the current market headed by Lincoln winner Gabrial and Spring Mile runner-up Buckstay. Given those Doncaster races have provided two of the last four winners, you have to respect their chances. However, the ground is likely to ride much quicker than Town Moor and that’s not ideal for Gabrial in particular, while Buckstay has yet to win on turf and is without the services of the excellent Tom Marquand, who did everything right on him but win last time.
I’m going to take them on with Richard Hannon’s BROWNSEA BRINK, who goes well fresh and is the mount of highly talented 3lb claimer (not for much longer!) Cam Hardie. He’s not been seen finishing down the field in last season’s Victoria Cup, when he went off as joint favourite, but it will be a surprise if he’s not fit and ready to do himself justice. His first win on turf came at Newmarket on the back of a near eight-month absence and he ran well on his reappearance last season, when beaten a head by Purcell at Lingfield. He followed that up by finishing a close third in this race off the same mark as today’s and on similar going, so he’s far from a bad price at 14/1 to go two better.
It’s a huge day for the yard with stablemates Tiger Wiggy and Ivawood making their seasonal reappearances in the Fred Darling (2.15pm) and Greenham Stakes (2.50pm) respectively. The former horse was a revelation last season in landing six of her eight races, including when making all in the Group 1 Cheveley Park at Newmarket in September, but she never ran further than 6f and therefore has her stamina for today’s extra furlong to prove. I’m inclined to think she will stay but that doesn’t make her a bet at just even money and John Golden’s Jellicle Ball looks a big threat, with recent gallop reports suggesting she’s a class act in the making.
Bookmakers aren’t exactly giving Ivawood away either with just 13/8 on offer at the time of writing, but I’m less inclined to take him on. He looked out of the top drawer in winning his first three starts last season and can be excused a defeat on his final run at Newmarket on ground that was softer than ideal. He’s the stable number one Classic hope, with no bigger than 5/1 (bet365) on offer for the 2000 Guineas in just over two week’s time, and I’m expecting him to advertise his claims here.
The flat is not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, and I’m switching codes the second bet of the afternoon in CINDERS AND ASHES, who contests the Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.35pm). Jumps fans may remember his shining moment came in the 2012 Supreme Novices’ at the Cheltenham Festival, when holding off Darlan and 17 others, and he looked on his way back to something approaching his best when third in a decent handicap at Haydock two starts back. He got carried out after jumping the second flight at Aintree last time, when carrying my money, and I’m prepared to give him another chance as he’s tumbled in the weights and won’t the drying ground one bit. At 16/1, he could well muscle his way into the frame and a win would not surprise in the slightest.