Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action.
I’m going to stick with the Flat for today’s piece as I’ve been having more success in that sphere and, besides, nothing was jumping off the page up at Ayr. That’s not to say Newbury is a doddle but the following horses should run well and, win or lose today, should pay to follow in the coming weeks.
Let’s kick things off with the Charlie Hills-trained SPOOF in the opening 5f maiden. With 11 newcomers set to go to post, some considerable guesswork is required and, if I’m being honest, I’m only going on what his trainer had to say about him in his Weekender column. To summarise, he’s a strong colt who has pleased in his work and is expected to run a nice race.
Given that the stable has been in form of late (5-22 in the last fortnight, including a juvenile winner), it would been no surprise to see the son of Poet’s Voice go well this afternoon under Jamie Spencer and we can back him each-way at current odds of 12/1. UPDATE – the selection is as short as 7/2 now so well done if you got on at the bigger prices.
The 2m2f handicap on the card has an open look to it and a chance is taken on GUARD OF HONOUR at a double-figure price. He was a disappointing favourite when last seen out on the all-weather at Dundalk in January and fared little better on his previous start at Newcastle in December, but he seems best in big-field turf handicaps and ran a huge race to finish fourth in the Irish Cesarewitch last October, a race he had finished runner-up in 12 months earlier.
His trainer George Baker described him as an ‘exciting stayer’ in a recent Stable Tour and earmarked the Ascot Stakes as his big target. That race should suit him, but he could do with going up a few pounds to be sure of getting in and a win today would be just the job. UPDATE – the selection is very easy to back this morning (out to 16/1) and that suggests he’s going to need the run.
It would be no surprise if John Gosden’s SHUTTER SPEED were to end up at the royal meeting given her reputation at home, where she has been dubbed the “second coming of The Fugue”, and the ability she showed when scoring over a mile at Yarmouth in October. The daughter of Dansili has reportedly been working like a dream on the Al Bahathri gallop this spring and it will be disappointing if she can’t keep her unbeaten record intact when she runs in the 1m2f conditions stakes before heading for an Oaks trial.
Gosden could also be on the mark with CHESSMAN in the 7f handicap. The race is a punters’ minefield with 17 lightly-raced three-year-olds set to go to post and all have winning form to recommend them, with a few having had the advantage of a recent run on the all-weather. But the Gosden horse created a big impression when winning a Kempton maiden in October and is evidently highly regarded judging by the fact he still holds an entry in the 2000 Guineas, so he really ought to be up to winning a handicap off his current mark of 87 with Frankie Dettori up.
Last but by no means least, the Roger Varian-trained DOUBLE UP looks something to bet on in the 5f handicap. The six-year-old proved frustrating last season as he often threatened to win a decent prize and was an expensive failure when carrying my cash on two of his last three starts, spoiling his chance with a tardy start on both occasions.
But he’s certainly not one to give up on just yet as he’s weighted to win and first time out could be the best time to catch him as he has first-up form figures of 113. I’m also hoping another breathing operation over the winter will have done the trick and allow him to fulfil his true potential. The booking of Silvestre De Sousa is the icing on the cake.
Newbury 2.00, Spoof each-way @ 12/1 Paddy Power
Newbury 2.30, Guard Of Honour @ 16/1 bet365
Newbury 3.05, Shutter Speed @ 13/8 Paddy Power
Newbury 4.10, Chessman @ 2/1 Betfair
Newbury 4.40, Double Up @ 2/1 Betfair