Royal Ascot begins a week today and I have been sweet on the chances of Legends Of War (4/1 with BetVictor) for the Coventry Stakes since he made a winning debut at Yarmouth last month. That was, however, before stablemate Calyx ran away with a Newmarket (July course) maiden at the weekend.
Calyx is a son of Kingman and I wonder whether trainer John Gosden will wait for the July meeting given the Coventry Stakes will be run just ten days after his impressive debut. One thing is for sure Calyx (also 4/1 at BetVictor for the Coventry) should be kept on the right side of going forward.
Fast ground is likely to be the order of the day at Salisbury this afternoon and I hope to see Wufud (2.30) go one better than on debut when the colt finished second at Kempton back in April. The colt is very well bred and it is perhaps significant that Jim Crowley selects the Charlie Hills three-year-old over Roger Varian’s Kawasir who is rated 84. Note both are making their turf debut.
I expect to see Franny Norton make plenty of use of hat-trick seeking Burgonet (4.00) in the ten -furlong fillies handicap given his mount won over an additional quarter of a mile at Leicester last time from a 4lbs lower mark. Norton must overcome the worst of the draw in stall four and is unlikely to get an uncontested lead, however, given two of his three rivals have led in the past and the first bend comes up very quickly over this trip.
At Thirsk, Pepys is well drawn to try and repeat the tactics of his last time out Nottingham win when making all from a 7lbs lower mark. Bryan Smart’s gelding has now won two of his last three starts but is 11lbs higher and preference is for Rebel State (3.45) who steps back up in trip to a mile having looked an unlucky loser when runner up over 7f at Ayr last time.
The 5-year-old doesn’t have the best of draws in stall 11 but gets on well with jockey Jack Garrity and is still rated 4lbs lower on turf than he is on an all-weather surface.
I was very impressed with Mutafani (4.15) at Chelmsford last time when Simon Crisford’s three-year-old made all under Silvestre De Sousa. The selection has to transfer his improved all-weather form back to turf, but the yard are in good form and he has a cracking draw for one who is likely to race prominently.
Keith Dalgleish has his string in good heart and it will be interesting to see if his Iconic Code attracts support having her first start since disappointing on soft ground – at a time when the yard were out of sorts – at the beginning of May. She looked a stayer in the making when winning over a mile on soft ground at Pontefract as a juvenile and she is one to consider in the 12f fillies’ Handicap which concludes the card.
The vote, however, goes to Stay In The Light (5.15) who came wide into the straight when a close fourth at Lingfield on polytrack last time over today’s trip. That race became a bit of a sprint which did not suit the selection who finished full of running down the outside.
Karl Burke’s filly can run from the same mark today and this trip looked likely to suit when she was a staying on third on her last turf start over 10f at Redcar last month. Champion Jockey De Sousa takes over this afternoon.
At Southwell Atlantic Storm (6.20) has been raised 3lbs for finishing an unlucky second at Bangor last month a race that saw jockey Harry Skelton pick up a 2-day ban for interference. The 6-year-old has a history of going well fresh and he has to show he can back up that good run but he gets a narrow vote in a tight little opener.
Too Many Diamonds is on a quick hat-trick having come home 11 lengths clear of his field here last week, but I think this is a better race and I feel Copper West (6.40) looked to be crying out for a step up in trip when beaten in match here last month and this winning pointer gets the vote in another hot race.
I’m looking forward to the hurdles debut of the former John Oxx-inmate Ezanak (8.40) who has his first start for Dan Skelton in the maiden Hurdle. The selection was lightly-raced on the level but was rated 90 at his best and is the half-brother to a winning hurdler.
It could be a very good night for the Skelton yard.