A wonderful days racing under both codes with Wetherby the feature jumps meeting and the second day of the Breeders’ Cup from Santa Anita – one of the highlights of the whole year – taking place this evening.
We begin our preview in west Yorkshire and do note there is significant rain forecast to hit the track on Saturday. Proschema (2.30) was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Chepstow on his jumps debut for Harry Skelton but could only finish third. He would have been a more confident selection on good to soft ground, but he is a novice hurdler who is likely to be taking in some of the big spring festivals.
Having put up La Bague Au Roi (3.40) earlier in the week for the Charlie Hall I must admit that I wouldn’t want too much more rain for the mare despite the fact that she has winning form on soft ground. The selection has a good record fresh and she only lost one of her five races over fences last season – by Kalashnikov at Aintree dropping back to 2m 4f. Warren Greatrex’s mare has just a 3lb penalty to carry and at 5/2 with BetVictor she looks a fair price although if the ground turns heavy I do feel Top Ville Ben – 8/1 at BetVictor – would enter calculations.
At Ascot I hope to see Doctor Dex (1.35) reward each way support in the competitive novices’ handicap chase. This intermediate 2m 2f trip should be an ideal starting point for Tom George’s 6-y-old who is reported to have schooled well. At 7/1 with BetVictor I hope he can run a big race in what should be a most informative contest.
There should be more to come from Evan Williams’ The Last Day (2.10) this season and he gets the each way vote in the listed handicap chase again at odds of 7/1. The selection jumped slightly out to his right when second at Ffos Las on his penultimate start and he easily landed the odds at Carlicle on heavy ground on his latest start.
On The Blind Side didn’t look a natural over the larger obstacles last term but could be very well treated on his reappearance for Nicky Henderson. Preference, however, is for Vinndication (3.25) who will appreciate every drop of rain that falls at the track for Kim Bailey and David Bass. The selection is 5/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way five places on the race – I will be disappointed if he is out of the first five in his first-time tongue-tie.
Two furlongs out Century Dream (3.45) looked sure to play a part in the QEII at Ascot on Champions Day but he may have just needed the run and he gets the vote in Newmarket’s listed mile contest. Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle and the forecast soft ground is ideal.
Over at Santa Anita and Sistercharlie has only lost two of her nine starts for Chad Brown since moving from France where she finished an unlucky second in the French Oaks in 2017. I remember the disappointment when she readily picked up Wild Illusion in the corresponding race 12 months ago but at 11/10 with BetVictor she is overlooked although the five-year-old has looked as good as ever this season.
Fleeting has been one of the unluckiest horses in training this year and she would surely have landed the Fillies’ & Mares’ at Ascot on Champions Day with a clear run. Sistercharlies’ stablemate Thais looks sure to make it a true test and a decent gallop will suit Fleeting although marginal preference is for fellow Irish challenger Iridessa (8.54) who gets the each way vote at 7/1 with BetVictor.
The selection has only raced over this evening’s trip of 10f once so far this term and that resulted in a 2L win in the Gp 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. I hope Wayne Lordan doesn’t get too far back from stall one and expect the Joseph O’Brien three-year-old to gain revenge over Billesdon Brook – who beat the selection 2L over a mile in the Sun Chariot last time – over today’s extra quarter of a mile.
There is no question that there is a lot of stable confidence coming out of the Aidan O’Brien camp surrounding Anthony Van Dyck in the Turf. The Derby winner put behind a poor run on ground softer than ideal in the King George when third in the Irish Champion Stakes last time. The colt- 9/4 with BetVictor – bypassed the Arc on account of the prevailing conditions and should be fit and fresh and at home on the forecast fast ground.
Despite a poor draw in stall 10 I do expect to see Old Persian (11.40) run a big race for Charlie Appleby. The selection won the Northern Dancer Stakes last time – despite missing the break – and landed the Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night. He would have been a more confident selection had he been drawn nearer the rail but at 7/2 at BetVictor I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race.
At Carlisle on Sunday I am sweet on the chances of Faustinovick (12.45) for Colin Tizzard in the opening novice hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. The selection finished runner up in a hot Newbury Bumper on his sole start for the yard and he looks a good prospect.
Only four go to post for the Intermediate Chase over 2m 4f and if Lostintranslation (2.30) is going to be a real King George contender he must take this despite having to give weight to another exciting prospect in Kildisart.