Good ground for Newbury’s feature meeting this afternoon which begins with the Denford Stakes (formerly Washington Singer) for juveniles over seven furlongs.
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston remains, at the time of writing, four shy of breaking Richard Hannon Snr’s record of most winners for a British trainer although he did have four runners on Friday.
Since his last winner at Windsor on Sunday, Johnston has sent out 22 runners without success and it is a frustrating time for the yard especially with Elarqam again disappointing at Salisbury midweek.
Johnston saddles The Trader (1.50) in the Newbury opener and I hope to see this son of Mastercraftsman go close with Ryan Moore taking over in the saddle for the first time. The colt has won two of his three starts and at 11/2 with BetVictor I feel he might be a shade overpriced.
The 7/4 market leader with BetVictor Boitron is the obvious danger with Richard Hannon Jnr fitting a tongue-tie on his unbeaten colt. His debut win over 6f here last month was given a boost by the success of runner up Fox Coach at Chelmsford earlier in the week, but at 11/2 I would be disappointed if The Trader did not go close.
Sir Dancealot (3.35) carries a 3lbs penalty for his recent Goodwood Group 2 success but David Elsworth’s 4-year-old would have run out a convincing winner with a clear passage and I hope he can follow up in the Hungerford Stakes. Seven furlongs with a bit of ease in the ground is perfect for the selection (10/3 with BetVictor) who would have been a confident selection had it not been for his penalty.
With York on the horizon this is a big week for Aidan O’Brien and he saddles the 5/2 favourite Gustav Klimt. His colt is stepping down in distance from a mile for the first time since winning on his seasonal reappearance on heavy ground at Leopardstown back in the spring and I’m not convinced that will suit.
Sextant (4.10) is entitled to come on for his Nottingham debut when he got the hang of things too late over ten furlongs in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen. The selection was unruly in the paddock and unshipped Ryan Moore, was slowly away and met trouble in running at Colwick Park, but showed definite promise and Moore keeps the ride.
At Doncaster Mehdaayih (2.15) was not given a hard time at Goodwood on debut, but she certainly shaped with considerable promise and I expect this Fillies’ Mile entrant to leave that run behind stepping up in trip for John Gosden.
The big betting race of the day is the Gt St Wilfrid Handicap from Ripon and, in the hope that the far side is the place to be, I am going to give the frustrating but consistent Growl (13/2 and 5 places at BetVictor) the each way vote.
Richard Fahey’s 6-year-old has been knocking on the door all season and is 10lbs lower in the weights than when a beaten favourite in the corresponding race 12 months ago. Ripon’s undulations are not everyone’s cup of tea, but the hope is there is enough pace on the far side (Henley and Reputation like to race prominently) to tow Growl and also Spring Loaded into the race.
Of those drawn high I think Marie Of Lyon will go close at 20/1 with BetVictor.
I think Double Reflection (3.50) might get a soft lead in the following 10f fillies’ handicap for Karl Burke and Clifford Lee who takes off a valuable 3lbs.
Parthenius has been raised 6lbs for his narrow Stratford defeat last time for the Skelton, but preference is for Caius Marcius (3.40 Perth) who reverts to timber having finished runner up here to a decent novice chaser of the same Skelton team. Nicky Richards fits his 7-year-old with first-time cheek-pieces.