Despite it being a classic weekend – Irish Oaks at the Curragh – this weekend’s racing action wouldn’t be out of the very top drawer although there are a couple of very interesting handicaps over both codes including the 2m Marsh Cup at Newbury.
Willie Mullins’ Stratum won the inaugural running of this valuable contest 12 months ago and is 8/1 at BetVictor to follow up. He went out like a light in the Northumberland Plate on his last visit to Britain, however, having looked sure to play a hand in the finish at the top of the straight.
Do note Brighton FC Chairman Tony Bloom owns both Stratum and another of the market leaders Withhold (10/1 at BetVictor) – last year’s Northumberland Plate winner – which muddies the waters from a punting perspective.
Ascot Stakes winner Le Grand Visir heads the market at 5/1, but I am keen on the chance of the three-year-olds Durston and Moon King – both 10/1 at BetVictor – although neither at this stage is guaranteed a run.
There is a decent card at Lingfield and in the opener – which is run on polytrack – Betty’s Heart (2.10) is taken to build on what was a promising first start in Britain when she pulled hard in rear on her first start in over five months, but still ran well when fourth at Wolverhampton. If she is more amenable to restraint this afternoon, I feel she ought to go close although she will need to break well under Kieran Fox from stall one.
Dark Lady (2.40) finished runner up behind a highly-regarded sort of Archie Watson, who holds group entries, at Newbury on debut and she is taken to go one better for Richard Hannon. Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle for Cheveley Park Stud. Tom Dascombe’s Multiply By Eight was considered good enough to run in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot last month and is a danger as is Miss Paxman who has two lengths to find with the selection on Newbury running. This should prove to be a most informative Fillies’ Novice event.
There is a new 2m 4f race on turf and Wind Place And Sho is an interesting contender stepped up in trip although he does have his quirks having refused to race three times – all over jumps. The vote, however, goes to Fitzwilly (3.40) who carries just a 4lbs penalty for scoring over 2m here last week and promises to be at least as effective over this marathon trip.
Irish raider Mid Atlantic Storm (4.00) has a moderate draw in the 7f Maiden at Catterick to overcome but this represents a weaker race than the one he contested at Limerick over a mile last time. Trainer Gavin Cromwell has been carrying all before him with his visits to Britain – another double at Perth on Sunday – and he looks to have found a good opportunity for his gelding.
At Uttoxeter Annie Angel (4.20) looked a fortunate winner at Fontwell last time from a 6lbs lower mark, but the mare has switched to Dan Skelton since that success and his new yard fit their new charge with a tongue tie for the first time this afternoon. Net De Treve failed to get home over 3m at Huntingdon last time but did win over 2m 4f here over timber. He has the scope to make a chaser and a market move would be worth noting for Tom George’s 6-year-old.
There is an evening card at Yarmouth and Earth And Sky (6.40) makes her handicap debut on the fastest ground she has encountered to date for George Scott. The filly was not beaten too far at Newmarket last time and the runner up has since gone one better. If she acts on the forecast fast ground – she can be keen, and a hood is fitted as it was on her debut – she will be tough to beat.
Five Diamonds (7.40) was slowly away at Beverley on debut when second over an extended mile on soft ground when she ran on all the way to the line. The filly drops back to 7f and it is likely that jockey Jim Crowley will want to make plenty of use of his mount this evening.
At Killarney this evening Arthur’s Kingdom (5.55) is taken to go one better than when runner up at Leopardstown last month. Aidan O’Brien’s colt holds an entry in the Group 1 National Stakes over 7f in September although his breeding suggests this evening’s trip of a mile will suit even at this stage of his career.
Viadera (7.30) will appreciate the return to a mile having finished third in listed company at Carlisle last time and she can confirm earlier Curragh handicap form with Lady Wannabe who is one of four rides on the card for Frankie Dettori.
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