Charlie Appleby saddled the brilliant winner of the Craven Stakes – today’s Newmarket feature – courtesy of Masar 12 months ago and that colt went on to finish third in the 2000 Guineas before going on to Epsom Derby glory. Masar has not been seen on the track since his classic success although connections remain hopeful he will race as a four-year-old and is quoted at 10/1 with BetVictor for the Arc at Longchamp in October.
Appleby saddles the once-raced Zakouski (2/1 favourite at BetVictor) as he bids to win the premier Guineas Trial back-to-back later today. The colt created a very favourable impression when beating the penalised Headman – who was drawn in the car park – at Kempton on debut and has been very well backed for the Guineas in recent weeks (7/1 at BetVictor). He has obviously been working well on the home gallops, but he looks short enough in the betting for what he has achieved on the track to date and is overlooked.
Royal Marine – 3/1 at BetVictor- sets the standard and escapes a penalty for his Group 1 success at Longchamp over a mile on Arc day. I can easily forgive his moderate comeback on dirt at Meydan last month when slowly away.
The each way vote, however, goes to Martyn Meade’s Confiding (3.35) who looked sure to appreciate the step up to a mile when finishing third in both the Vintage Stakes and Solorio Stakes as a juvenile. He doesn’t have the best of the draw – stall 7 with the stalls situated on the far side – but I feel he can cause a bit of a shock at 12/1 with BetVictor.
In the opener Breath Of Air (1.50) has the opportunity to race on fast ground for the first time and Ryan Moore is booked for his reappearance. The form of the selection’s Newbury win on his second start was given a boost when the second Mohaather landed the Greenham at the weekend and a draw in stall one next to the far rail is considered a plus. The colt is 5/2 (from 9/4) at BetVictor and I am looking forward to the reappearance of this Bated Breath colt.
Brando is looking to win the Abernant Stakes for the third year running and trainer Kevin Ryan has saddled the winner of this Gp 3 sprint four times in the last five years. Brando is a worthy market leader – 13/8 at BetVictor – but Dreamfield (3.00) has an exemplary record first time out, was not beaten far by Brando in the July Cup and is open to further improvement after just the six career starts. The selection is 10/3 at BetVictor and looks sure to give the hat-trick seeking Brando a severe test drawn next to the far rail.
At Beverley Attainment (4.00) just lost out in a bob of heads at Lingfield – polytrack – last week and he is taken to go one better reverting to turf. Lightning Attack represents the yard of Richard Fahey and all associated with the yard would dearly love to win today’s race named in honour of the late Laura Barry who worked for Fahey and died of cancer last July the day before she was due to be married. It would be poignant success if Lightning Attack won but I just favour Attainment.
There is a cracking card at Cheltenham and Mister Whitaker (2.40) – a winner at the Cheltenham Festival last year – has not really gone on this season from an excellent win at Carlisle on his reappearance although he did finish fourth in the BetVictor Gold Cup here in November.
The selection is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time this afternoon and he should have the race run to suit with a number of potential front-runners in the field. Rene’s Girl is a personal favourite, but the Mick Channon-trained selection does have the beating of the Dan Skelton mare on his Carlisle success.
I’m going to give Nicky Henderson’s Darius Des Bois (3.50) another chance after he disappointed on soft ground at Sandown last time. The selection has subsequently been off the track for two months which suggests connections found something amiss last time and I do remember him finishing a never nearer 7L second at Sandown on his penultimate start when he gave every impression stamina was very much his forte.
Dingo Dollar was taken out of the Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday because of the prevailing fast ground and must go close – if conditions allow – in the 3m 2f handicap Chase but I am going to take a chance on Allelu Alleluia (5.00) for Jonjo O’Neill. The selection looked in need of a step back up in trip at Ludlow last time and leading conditional Jonjo O’Neill takes off a valuable 3lbs for his father.
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