Haydock stage the first of their three-day June Meeting today with the highlight Saturday’s Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes. I am sweet on the chances of Dutch Connection who ran a remarkable race in the Gp 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last time when he missed the kick but came there cantering two out only to fade into fourth.
The third horse home (Lancaster Bomber) has subsequently won a Group 1 in Ireland – albeit over an additional quarter of a mile – but Saturday’s drop back to 7f will suit the Charlie Hills-trained 6-y-old as will the dry weather forecast for the area.
The selection is 4/1 at BetVictor and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race – although he cannot afford to miss the break. Charlie Appleby’s D’bai (5/1) looks the danger stepping back up in trip and I cannot see that price lasting.
More immediately I will be surprised if Angel’s Hideaway (2.30) does not go very close in the 6f Juvenile Maiden Fillies’ race for John Gosden and Robert Havlin. The selection travelled like a decent sort when third at Newmarket on debut and she can leave that form behind later today. The winner subsequently let the form down on soft ground and the runner up (Beyond Reason) was running at Kempton Park last night.
There are several well-bred debutantes in opposition including Karl Burke’s Blissful Beauty who is a half-sister to Home Of The Brave. A check of the market is advised to see stable expectations.
In the opener Quantamental (2.00) can follow up his recent Beverley win from a 6lbs higher mark. The selection is well drawn in stall two to get to the lead and the hope is that jockey PJ McDonald can make all for local trainer Tom Dascombe.
Blonde Warrior (2.20) ran with considerable promise, despite looking as if he needed the experience, when runner up at Newbury on debut and he is taken to go one better for Hugo Palmer and Josephine Gordon. The selection is half-brother to six previous winners and he will be tough to beat in Yarmouth’s opener.
Imperial Past won his sole juvenile start for Charlie Appleby but has a 7lbs penalty for that success which was gained on soft ground. He might be vulnerable giving weight to Gosden’s Argentello (2.50) who drops back in trip having finished third over an additional quarter mile in a hot Chester maiden last time.
Free Forum (3.20) didn’t get the best of runs on his reappearance but he showed enough to suggest he was up to winning from this mark. The 4-y-old can be a bit keen and Jason Watson – who is a very talented apprentice – takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Mutafarrid (4.20) is 2lbs higher than when third – beaten less than a length – at Doncaster 7f last month when he gave every impression he would appreciate stepping up in trip to a mile. The grey gelding can take what promises to be an informative handicap.
At Sandown I think Ghostwatch (6.25) will be more at home at tonight’s track than when third of eight in a competitive heat at Chester last month. The selection races from the same mark this evening and should improve for the step up to 1m 6f.
Henry Candy’s Mt Augustus and David Simcock’s Highland Sky are others to consider in what promises to be a most informative contest.
Kassar (7.00) lost little in defeat at Windsor on his reappearance and he is entitled to come on for the run in the mile handicap again for the classic generation. Roger Charlton’s string are in good form after a slow start and the selection is well berthed in stall four. He gets the each way vote.
Infrastructure steps back up in trip for Martyn Meade having been swamped back at a mile last time at Nottingham. He is likely to be ridden with more restraint by Oisin Murphy this evening than was the case at Colwick Park last time and the stable certainly believe this maiden is up to winning from his current mark.
The Novice event for three-year-olds and upwards who have not run in more than three flat races is a fascinating contest with the 98 rated Cross Counter making his turf debut against Al Muffrih (8.05) and it is the latter who gets the vote.
The selection landed a gamble when scoring at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance and he still holds an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes (Ascot Derby) and Irish Derby at the end of the month. The William Haggas runner receives 7lbs from the Godolphin runner and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a very big race in this 17-runner contest.