Our racing guru has cast his expert eye over today's TV races .
There is competitive racing wherever you look this afternoon and it’s the nine races (yes, nine!) covered on Channel 4 that come under scrutiny here.
14:15 Goodwood – Al Basti Equiworld Festival Stakes (Listed), 1m1f192y
A couple of these are reappearing after long layoffs and Sir Michael Stoute’s Kings Fete, who has not been seen for 616 days, is perhaps the most interesting on his first start since being gelded. Berkshire has a 582-day absence to overcome, though he can’t be discounted as the top-rated runner and his stable has been amongst the winners of late.
However, the well-bred DECORATED KNIGHT looks the one to be on at Betfair’s 10/3 after finishing fourth on his debut for Roger Charlton in an Ascot Listed contest on his reappearance, beaten about three lengths by the likes of Gm Hopkins. He should come on a bundle for that run and today’s slightly longer trip is in his favour.
14:30 Haydock – GPW Recruitment Handicap, 2m45y
MATORICO has developed into a 139-rated hurdler since coming over from France and he caught the eye when finishing sixth on his British Flat debut in a similar handicap at the York Dante meeting. Quietly fancied beforehand, he was still travelling well when running into a pocket approaching 2f out, just as the race was unfolding, and by the time he got out it was too late. He’s making a quick reappearance off the same mark and, with Graham Lee taking over in the saddle, he has to be worth another chance. Take bet365’s 4/1.
Top weight Moscato and David O’Meara’s Saved By The Bell are respected, but a bigger danger may be the Tim Easterby-trained My Reward, who ran second on his seasonal/stable debut at Ripon. Bought for £30,000 last October by current connections and gelded over the winter, he should be able to pick up a decent 2m handicap off his current mark.
14:40 York – weddingmates.co.uk Grand Cup (Listed), 1m6f
Ralph Beckett’s Moonrise Landing was last seen winning the All-weather Marathon on Good Friday and this looks a decent opportunity for her to earn some black type. However, her sole win to date on turf came on soft ground and, while she’s a good mover who promises to act on a faster surface, I’m not willing to pay a stingy 2/1 to find out.
Several of her rivals are exposed types and a couple are making their seasonal debuts, but that doesn’t apply to the Hugo Palmer-trained TWITCH. She looked to have improved for her winter break when finishing third behind a couple of progressive rivals on her reappearance at Goodwood and there ought to better to come from this half-sister to stablemate Covert Love with that run under her belt. I can’t quite fathom why she’s as big as 25/1 with Paddy Power for this, with 5/1 a place on offer for each-way backers.
14:50 Goodwood – Intrinsic New For 2016 at Hedgeholme Stud Tapster Stakes (Listed), 1m4f
Mount Logan and Mr Singh are nicely clear on the ratings but given both are likely to need their first run back, this could be a good opportunity for David Simcock’s BATEEL. A winner over track and trip last August, she stepped up again when only finding stablemate Carnachy too good in a similar contest to this on her reappearance. The winner was far from disgraced when third in a Group 3 on her next start and is still in the Oaks, so the form looks solid, and the selection is almost certainly capable of rating higher than her current 99. Getting the 5lb sex allowance from her male rivals, she must go close and bet365’s 10/3 seems fair.
15:05 Haydock – Silver Bowl Stakes (Handicap), 1m
Chief Whip came up against a far better handicapped rival when second (of 20) at York last time and this lightly-raced sort has obvious claims of going one better here under Ryan Moore, though the assessor has bumped him up 6lb for that latest effort and this race is if anything even more competitive.
Instead, let’s have a little on Richard Fahey’s GARCIA at the 9/1 on offer at bet365. The son of Paco Boy showed the benefit of a gelding operation when winning a York maiden last October and he looked to have improved again when winning comfortably at Beverley on his reappearance, beating the similarly unexposed Arab Poet by a length and three quarters. Fahey described him as a “baby” in the post-race interview, so there should be more to come, and he also nominated this race as his immediate target. Granted, he probably isn’t the only well-treated runner in the race, but I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t turn out to be far better than his current mark of 89.
15:25 Goodwood – Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Stakes (Handicap), 7f
A big run from Garcia at Haydock would be a pointer to the horse who chased him home at Beverley last time, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Arab Poet, who is sure to come on for that effort and might prove better suited to this track. However, his high draw in stall 14 (of 16) has to be a concern as it pays to be drawn low in 7f races here, and that also puts me off top weight Haalick, who will exit from stall ten.
There are no such concerns over Richard Hannon’s Oh This Is Us from stall two and he should make a bold bid to land the hat-trick after success at Chelmsford and Newmarket. But as a horse who likes to come from behind, he’s going to need plenty of luck in running and, at the odds, I just prefer IAN FLEMING (12/1 bet365). He too is chasing a hat-trick and, while he only just scraped home at Chester last time, he was running from out of the handicap on that occasion. That run also confirmed that he is best on a turning track like this one and his rider Eddie Greatrex, who takes a handy 5lb off his back, can make use of a good draw right against the inside rail.
15:40 Haydock – EBF Stallions Cecil Frail Stakes (Fillies’ Listed), 6f
This sees the return to action of last season’s Wokingham winner Interception and he’s been put in as 9/4 favourite by bookmakers. However, the four-year-old likely to need his first run back with Royal Ascot surely on his agenda again and with his stable still looking for its first winner on turf in 2016, I’m happy to swerve him at such short odds.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Thetis is next in the betting and that’s understandable as she finished second in a Group 2 at Newmarket last October and looked in need of the run when third behind Nemoralia at York on her reappearance. However, I’m not sure the drop back to 6f is what she needs and it’s worth noting that every winner of this race had won over the distance previously, a glaring omission from her CV.
There’s scope for taking a flyer on one at bigger odds then and Clive Cox’s PRICELESS is a very tempting 12/1 with Coral. A seven-length winner of a maiden over track and trip on her racecourse debut last September, she looked a bit unlucky when finishing third in a Group 3 at Ayr on her next start as she had to come around the entire field to challenge, by which time the winner had flown. She finished stone last on her Ascot reappearance but you can put a line through that run as she got bumped leaving the stalls and was panicked into running too fast early, before fading badly close home. Cox, who has made a bright start to the season, rates her a “very smart filly” and she might just prove him right this afternoon in a first-time hood. At the odds, it’s worth paying to find out.
15:50 York – titanbet.co.uk Spring Sprint (Handicap), 5f
A hugely competitive sprint handicap and I’m almost loathe to put up the forecast favourite DOCTOR SARDONICUS as the most likely winner, with Betfair going a best-priced 8/1 on that happening. But he was a real eye-catcher when a fast-finishing fifth over track and trip just nine days ago against race-fit rivals, giving the impression he had a decent pot in him off his current mark. Described by his trainer as a “bull of a horse” and one who has “loads of speed”, he should bounce off today’s fast ground (assuming there isn’t any significant rain) and the booking of Jamie Spencer is hardly a negative either.
There are dangers wherever you look and they are perhaps headed by Mick Channon’s Shore Step, who posted a fine first effort of the season when fourth over 6f at Ascot and has the speed to be as a effective over the minimum. He could be worth a small saver at bet365 8/1.
16:10 Haydock – Temple Stakes (Group 2), 5f
The day’s main event and a good turnout too with 16 set to go to post – sadly, bookmakers are only paying out on three places as it’s not a handicap. There are some seriously speedy types amongst them but, if the betting can be believed, they’ve all got to go to beat Mecca’s Angel, who is favourite at around the 2/1 mark. Clearly the layers are expecting the forecast rain to materialise as she’s a soft-ground filly who has won six of her last eight starts, including the Group 1 Nunthorpe on her third and final outing of last season on ‘good to soft’.
That makes her be he clear form choice, but until the going changes from the current ‘good to firm’ (she won’t be running otherwise) we should try to find one against her and John Gosden’s WAADY will do nicely at Paddy Power’s 9/1, especially as he’s not ground-dependant. A prolific winner last season, he looks the type to make up into a top-notch sprinter this term and ran as well as could be expected when third in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on his reappearance, when in need of the run and seeing too much daylight when isolated against the near-side rail. Such a scenario is far less likely at this track and given the field size, he can turn the tables on surprise Newmarket winner Profitable and make the favourite pull out all the stops.
Muthmir is one of several who wouldn’t want the ground to deteriorate and he won’t be far away if that’s the case. Of the rest, last season’s King’s Stand winner Goldream is respected, though he has to bounce back from a couple of poor efforts at Meydan earlier this year and has to shoulder a penalty, meaning he is giving weight away all round.