Lockinge Stakes day selections from Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com

Lockinge Stakes day selections from Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com

The Group 1 Lockinge Stakes from Newbury is today’s feature event and I expect to see stablemate Toscanini set the race up for Ribchester (3.30) who should not be inconvenienced by today’s forecast soft ground.

The recommendation finished in front of two of today’s main rivals Galileo Gold and Lightning Spear when runner up to the brilliant Minding in the QEII back in October although he is 3lbs worse off with the latter. The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old made a promising seasonal debut out in Dubai on World Cup night when he failed to get home over an additional furlong having pulled hard in the early part of the race.

Ribchester is 2/1 with BetVictor and he can again get the better of Hugo Palmer’s Galileo Gold although the latter did win the Guineas with the selection back in third at Newmarket first time out last season. Palmer has been making positive noises about his classic winner in the run up to today’s contest and it promises to be a good renewal with the progressive Somehow and Aclaim also very much in the mix.

The big betting race is the London Cup and Defoe is surely better than he showed at Newmarket in the Zetland Stakes on his last juvenile start when he was tailed off behind leading Oaks candidate Coronet. A market move would be worth noting for the grey who will stay further than today’s 10f trip in time.

The nod goes to Simon Crisford’s Century Dream (2.55) who finished third on his reappearance at Sandown when a bit keen and the hope is that he is more amenable to restraint with that outing under his belt. The selection is 5/1 with BetVictor and he must go close in what doesn’t look a particularly strong renewal of this valuable handicap.

Soft ground is also the order of the day at Newmarket and Her Majesty’s Call To Mind (2.05) showed a willing attitude when winning at Newbury on debut and should appreciate the step up in trip in the opening listed Fairway Stakes.

The handicapper has only seen fit to give the selection an opening mark of 82 and he is rated 21lbs inferior to Godolphin’s Leshlaa, but the booking of Jim Crowley suggests William Haggas is not convinced his son of Galileo will be out of his depth – I agree. That said he is priced up more on breeding and potential rather than form in the book with 5/2 looking a bit on the skinny side.

Holmeswood (3.15) is closely matched with Ekhtiyaar in the 3-year-old sprint handicap but at 6/1 with BetVictor is double the odds of the favourite and can reward each way support for Michael Dodds.

Jim Crowley travels north from Newmarket and I have high hopes the champion jockey rides a winner with High Hopes (6.50) in the 10f fillies’ handicap for David Simcock. The selection won her last couple in her three-year-old season including a facile success on soft ground back in September. She may still be ahead of the handicapper despite running from a mark 7lbs higher than at Ffos Las on her last start.

It is perhaps significant that leading connections have kept the four-year-old gelding Aladeel (7.50) who makes a belated racecourse debut for William Haggas in the 6f maiden. This son of Dubawi out of a Pivotal mare should appreciate the forecast soft ground and he certainly wouldn’t have to be anything special to make a winning racecourse debut.

At Bangor I was impressed with the manner of Desert Sting’s (4.50) recent Stratford success and think Oliver Greenall’s charge could still be well treated despite a 12lbs rise. The suggestion had been in good form between the flags earlier in the year and a wind operation back in the autumn looks to have transformed the gelding.

On Sunday do keep an eye out for Always Lion (2.55) at Market Rasen on his chase debut for Ben Pauling. The selection is returning from a 556-day lay-off but can make up for lost time in what should be a most informative novice handicap chase.
Weekend Offender (3.40) was unlucky in running on his seasonal reappearance at Nottingham and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t go close in Ripon’s valuable 9f handicap although the draw in stall nine (of ten) is less than ideal.

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