Gosforth Park Newcastle makes history this evening when the first Group 1 contest ever to be staged on an all-weather surface – the Vertem Futurity Trophy – takes place with a dozen juvenile colts going to post.
The race has been won by the subsequent 2000 Guineas winner in the last couple of renewals – Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecian – and this looks a much better race than was scheduled for Doncaster last weekend when only Andrew Balding’s Kameko was due to take on the Aidan O’Brien quintet.
Despite the worst of the draw Mogul was well on top in a Group 2 at Leopardstown last time and this son of Galileo will appreciate this stiff mile. He is a worthy 13/8 market leader at BetVictor, but I cannot desert Kinross (6.00) who made such an impressive debut when scoring by 8l at Newmarket over 7f on debut. Yes, the second was giving the winner 6lbs but the runner up has since landed the odds with the minimum of fuss and this evening’s additional furlong should suit. At 9/4 with BetVictor I would be disappointed if Kinross didn’t run a big race in what promises to be a fabulous occasion under the lights.
Sam Spinner was well on top at the line when making a winning chase debut over a trip short of his best at Wetherby and the step up to 3m will suit on a return to the west Yorkshire track. The runner up on that occasion was Dan Skelton’s Beakstown and I feel it is significant that the stable are not afraid of running Ardlethen (1.55) against Jedd O’Keefe’s World Hurdle runner up despite the fact that he would be receiving 22lbs if this were a handicap hurdle.
The selection beat Lisnagar Oscar at Chepstow on debut and will appreciate any of the forecast showers that are due to hit the track on Friday morning. Sam Spinner has the class and an engine, but I remain unconvinced that he has the scope for the larger obstacles. I’m also looking forward to the reappearance of Coole Hall although it might not be today.
Happy Diva (3.05) didn’t have the best of luck last season but she was a model of consistency and I hope to see her make a winning reappearance for Kerry Lee. The mare would not be inconvenienced if conditions deteriorated from the forecast good to soft ground at the time of writing at noon on Thursday.
Born Survivor would have been the selection on good ground with trainer Dan Skelton giving an upbeat report on his 8-year-old before his planned reappearance in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday. The gelding was a late absentee on account of the “soft” ground at the weekend and he may again be thwarted by the ground. If the rain stayed away, however, he would be a danger to all. Catamaran Du Seuil won first time from a 5lbs lower mark last season over today’s C&D and is another to consider.
At Uttoxeter recent chase winners Wenceslaus and Battleofthesomme (12.55) revert to timber and can run off the same marks as when scoring over the larger obstacles last week. One could argue both yards have had their hands forced given they will be running from higher marks from tomorrow onwards, but BetVictor brand ambassador Jamie Snowdon looks to have found an ideal opportunity. Note his recent Southwell success was his first start for his new inform yard.
There is a terrific Beginners Chase and 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy (2.40) makes his eagerly-awaited chase debut but must put behind what was a slightly disappointing season over timber. Tom George’s 7-y-old has had his wind tweaked since his last run and is reported to have schooled well. He was never the best of jumpers over timber but has the scope for the larger obstacles and is reported to have treat the larger obstacles with more respect.
Thomas Darby finished second in the 2019 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and does go on soft ground, although he is, arguably, better on a faster surface. He is another potentially top-class novice chaser.
Beni Light is a personal favourite, but I would be surprised if he were able to give 16lbs to Heavenly Promise (3.15) who escapes a penalty for winning at Sedgefield last week and she would be carrying 13lbs more if this race were run tomorrow.
At Down Royal I am looking forward to the seasonal reappearance of Gordon Elliot’s Coeur Sublime (1.45) who finished runner up in the Triumph Hurdle and won first time out last season. All eyes will be on the chase debut of Samcro with Keith Donoghue taking over in the saddle with Jack Kennedy sidelined. He has always looked a chaser-in-waiting but makes no appeal as a betting medium.