The Duke’s Weekend Review

This weekend’s action will be fast and furious, with much of the best action being sprints at York and Musselburgh.

We’ll start off at the Knavesmire though with a Listed race over a mile at 2.55pm; the Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes.

Gabrial has been knocking on the door in good races, including a decent second at Epsom last time. He should be thereabouts again. Thikriyaat would go close on the pick of his form but he has had a dodgy ticker in the past and his comeback run was dreadful. He may improve for that but there are others with better claims.

Arabian Hope has apparently been working well on the gallops, but would need to take a big step up to win this. If doing so, she would have each way claims, as does Golden Stunner who Fran Berry quietly fancies for this. Spark Plug is my pick though.

“Jamie Spencer is undoubtedly a fine jockey, with a great knowledge of horses. I just wish he had the same clock in his head as Ryan Moore”

Jamie Spencer is undoubtedly a fine jockey, with a great knowledge of horses. I just wish he had the same clock in his head as Ryan Moore, because if he did then he probably would have won on Spark Plug last time at Goodwood. James Doyle takes over in the saddle for this. Spark Plug has got better with age, won the Cambridgeshire in style last season and he’s a Group horse in waiting. Despite the drop back in trip, he gets the vote.

At 3.30pm, the Catherine Kinloch Paver Memorial Macmillan Charity Handicap and there are four on our shortlist. Ekhtiyaar won by more than the winning margin suggested at Newmarket last time. Usually form from that track is worth its weight in gold, but I’m not convinced it was much of a race as the form hasn’t stood up well. I may regret it, but I’m willing to take him on.

Carlton Frankie is an interesting filly, she’s won three on the spin and deserves a crack at a tougher race like this. She’s better weighted than Danielsflyer, who may run well but has a tough ask off this mark. The one I really fancy for an each-way play is Perfect Angel. She ran a massive race on ground I’m not convinced she liked at Newbury last time. That was Listed company and she’s been running well in better grades, including placing in a Group 2 last autumn. I’m hoping she runs well and defies the double figure price.

Heading over to Musselburgh for the big race at 3.10, the William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup. It’s a tough contest so I’m going to have a few bites at the cherry.

Caspian Prince is a horse who often likes to lead or be prominent and that can be a real advantage at Musselburgh, where traditionally you want to be right up there. There is also the old adage of backing in-form sprinters and he rates highly in that regard having won the ‘Dash’ at Epsom last time out. He’s the first selection, despite a big weight.

Next is Duke Of Firenze, who despite being a hold up horse, finished strongly at Epsom and will be in the mix again with a clear run. Finally, the well treated Desert Law is fancied here. He ran well in this race last year, despite being rather unlucky (rider lost his irons at the start and then had no room at a crucial stage of the race which lost his momentum). He’s now 6lb lower, won a C&D conditions race in April and should be cherry ripe for this.

Of course, you may be saving your money for Royal Ascot. This year’s Royal meeting will be a fascinating one and the horse I am most looking forward to seeing is Ribchester in the Queen Anne. I think he’s a beautiful horse and I can’t wait to see him run.

Watch out for Wesley Ward’s horses too. The trainer has made a habit of bringing beasts from America, perhaps not even with the greatest form over there, who just hose up on the Ascot track. I expect more of the same this time around. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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