Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com with Tuesday’s best bets
The first classics’ of the 2017 flat season are this weekend’s highlight with Churchill the 7/4 favourite for the 2000 Guineas on Saturday. The noises coming out of Ballydoyle are hugely encouraging for favourite backers but their last three Dewhurst Stakes winners (Beethoven, War Command and Air Force Blue) didn’t make the grade as three-year-olds and I am just leaning towards Eminent (11/2 at BetVictor) at this time.
There is a competitive card at Nottingham this afternoon with the ground described as good to firm. In the mile maiden for three-year-olds and upwards. Richard Fahey’s Lord Commander (2.40) ran well over a mile at York on his racecourse debut back in October and may not have quite got home over 1m 2f at Redcar on his seasonal reappearance.
He drops back down in trip this afternoon and can score for a yard who had a frustrating weekend but whose string remain in good form. Mick Channon’s filly Harmonise and Ed Walker’s Hernandes look up to winning races this season but I hope to see Paul Hanagan make plenty of use of the selection who should get further than this extended mile in time.
The feature event is also over a mile for fillies and mares and, as much as it goes against the grain supporting the classic generation at this time of the year against their elders, La Casa Tarifa (3.45) can land her hat-trick for Mark Johnston.
The filly is only 3lbs higher than when winning at Ripon under Franny Norton last month, has a bit of size about her and is clearly going the right way with the step up in trip of late clearly seeing her in an even better light.
In the 10f fillies’ handicap Midnight Vixen was beaten 7L by Unforgetable Filly (yes spelt that way) on her third juvenile start for Sir Michael Stoute but that Hugo Palmer trained filly finished runner up in the Nell Gwyn last month at Newmarket and is entered in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas. She looks certain to improve for today’s step up in trip, but my two against the field are recent C&D winner Canberra Cliffs (4.20) and Plead with marginal preference for the former.
Trainer by Don Cantillon the selection has been raised 8lbs for a fluent 3l success on her first try at 10f when she was backed into favouritism. The time of the event was nearly two seconds faster than the preceding C&D maiden, won by a well-bred Stoute inmate (Crystal Ocean), although that colt was heavily eased in the closing stages.
Princess Roania (4.50) has gone well fresh in the past and I hope to see the mare make a winning reappearance in the 1m 6f handicap for Peter Bowen who saddled the big winner at Sandown at the weekend. The selection did win at Bath on soft ground last June before finishing third under today’s apprentice at Yarmouth.
Talking of Yarmouth and they also race on the east coast track where I hope to see Hint Of Grey (3.25) make a bold bid in the 12f handicap. The grey runs in the same colours as Canberra Cliffs and let’s hope it’s a good day for Newmarket handler Cantillon who saddles both.
The four-year-old won twice over timber in March on good ground and looks well treated for the return to the flat although he would not want the race to develop into a sprint with Jamie Spencer taking over in the saddle for the first time.
Vernatti (4.00) makes her handicap debut for Pam Sly and she will be keen to get a win next to her name given she is a daughter of the yard’s famous 1000 Guineas winner Speciosa. The selection looked ready for a step back up in trip when runner up at Southwell last month although she was beaten no less than 11 lengths behind an impressive all-the-way winner in Flashy Snapper.
At Wolverhampton this evening, Star Of Bristol (7.00) is no world-beater but she makes her handicap debut for Richard Hughes from a potentially attractive mark and the step up in trip to this extended mile could eek out the necessary improvement.
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