Newmarket trainer John Gosden, as expected, dominated Champions Day at Ascot with Roaring Lion’s QEII success the personal highlight.
The grey would get my vote for horse of the year and will be retired to stud at the end of the year. But he is bred to appreciate the dirt and connections are considering a trip to Churchill Downs and Breeders’ Cup Classic swansong. The colt is 10/1 (from 12s) with BetVictor for the Classic – what have they got to lose?
Soft ground reported at Pontefract ahead of today’s card and Golden Parade (2.00) was well supported at York before being withdrawn at the start in, arguably, a better race than today’s earlier in the month. This step up to a mile promises to suit and he begins life in handicaps from a workable looking mark.
The feature event is the listed Silver Tankard Stakes for 2-year-olds over a mile. Mark Johnston should know where he stands with Roger Varian’s Three Comets given he saddled Persian Moon to beat Three Comets at Epsom last month.
Johnston saddles the filly I’ll Have Another who finished runner up in the Zetland Stakes over an additional quarter mile last time on lightning fast ground. That is the best form on offer, but she is penalised 3lbs for a previous win in Cologne at this level and preference is for the once-raced Manuela De Vega (3.30).
The selection is trained by Ralph Beckett who saddled the winner of the corresponding race back in 2015. That filly (My Gift) came into the race having won her first couple of starts before being sold to race in Hong Kong where she never won a race in 19 subsequent starts!
Manuela De Vega won a 7f maiden at Salisbury on debut and is bred to appreciate this stiff mile. She must prove she can handle soft ground, but her sister Isabel De Urbina handled plenty of cut and she can maintain her unbeaten record.
In the second division of the 12f maiden I hope to see Beer With The Boys (4.30) break his maiden tag at the ninth time of asking for Mick Channon and Andrea Atzeni. The selection finished third over C&D a fortnight ago and connections look to have found a good opportunity.
So Near So Farhh (5.00) was beaten less than 2l having met trouble in running here two weeks ago and she is taken to return to winning ways from a 1lb higher mark. She is 2lbs better off with the winner Bodacious Name and is taken to reverse the placings on the revised terms.
At Plumpton Remember Forever (2.50) finished fourth in the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 10lbs higher mark. A C&D winner on fast ground from an 8lbs higher mark this race – named in honour of Josh Gifford – will have long been the target for Richard Rowe.
The winning pointer Knocknanuss can be a bit keen and preference in the Novices’ Handicap Chase is for Call To Order (3.50) who may not have got home over an extended three miles last time but had scored over today’s trip on his penultimate start. That success was gained in first-time blinkers and he has valuable chasing experience under rules.
Blue Mountain (6.10) must overcome the worst of the draw in the 7f Novice event at Kempton this evening but he gets the vote having run well on both starts. A market move for the Roger Varian-trained newcomer Bayroot would be significant.