It looks increasingly likely that the ground at Haydock this afternoon will be soft for today’s flat card. The feature contest is the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes over 10f. The American bred Wissahickon has never raced on soft ground and he must give 3lbs to Addeybb (3.05) who is now 5/4 with BetVictor having been put up at 15/8 earlier in the week.
The selection is a soft ground specialist who met trouble in running when runner up to the progressive Elarqam in a better race at York last time. The William Haggas-trained 5-year-old must give 8lbs to the three-year-olds who are led by Pondus who ran such a good race when a length behind Fox Chairman at Newbury last time. Surrey Thunder (16s with BetVictor) has been campaigned exclusively abroad this season but gets his ground this afternoon – he is held in the highest of esteem by trainer Joe Tuite.
The Listed Dick Hern Stakes looks a match between the unbeaten fillies 4-year-old Miss O’Connor (2.30) and 3-year-old Feliciana De Vega with preference for the Haggas filly. The selection won on her British debut at Nottingham by no fewer than 13L although she was quite keen.
The Ralph Beckett filly was considered classic material when winning a listed contest in Deauville on the all-weather back in December and her subsequent absence from the track sways me to Miss O’Connor who is 9/4 at BetVictor. Ardiente is a filly I have plenty of time for, but I’m not convinced she will be as effective on the ground as others in the field.
Last Empire (3.40) has won her last couple of starts and makes her handicap debut from an opening mark of 80 for Kevin Ryan. The filly has winning form on soft ground and she will have to improve on what she has achieved to date, but she remains open to further improvement.
The annual Shergar Cup takes place at Ascot and there is less rain forecast at the Royal track. If the ground did turn soft, then Billy Ray would be the one to beat having run his best race yet when second in the valuable Marsh Cup at Newbury last time. If the ground is no worse than good, then Blue Laureate (1.40) gets the each way vote at 13/2 with BetVictor. The 4-y-old will be ridden by Japan’s Nanoko Fujita – who can claim 3lbs – who won the Women Jockey’s World Cup in Sweden earlier in the year.
In the 12f Handicap Reshoun (2.15) has been plying his trade over further this season but, as long as they go a decent gallop, then I feel Jamie Spencer can swoop fast and late. The selection is 15/2 at BetVictor and he is another each way recommendation.
Power Of Darkness (2.50) looks sure to go close in the Mile Handicap for Vincent Ho having ran an extraordinary race at Salisbury last time when he was very slowly away yet still won from a 3lbs lower mark. Note he does need good or faster ground to be seen at his best, although he does look ahead of the handicapper at present.
Victory Day (4.00) finished second at York in a valuable 6f handicap last time under Jamie Spencer and he gets the mount again today drawn next to the Stands’ rail in stall 12. The selection has only had the four career starts and is open to more improvement although he is 2/1 with BetVictor.
At Newmarket Visible Charm (2.35) looks ready for a return to 7f in a competitive Nursery, having stayed on strongly when scoring over 6f at Nottingham last time.
In the Group 3 Sweet Solara Stakes I was impressed with the Pontefract debut success of Soffika (3.45) and she comes from a family I like. Sir Michael Stoute’s filly steps up from 6f this afternoon and she gets a narrow vote with James Doyle taking over in the saddle.
The form of Watch Me’s Coronation Stakes success at Royal Ascot has taken a couple of knocks recently and I hope to see Irish raider Romanised (3.25) can take what looks a sub-standard Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on Sunday. Last year’s Irish Guineas winner returned to winning ways last time and the forecast good to soft ground is ideal.