Aidan O’Brien will have his first runners at Chelmsford tomorrow including USS Michigan – last seen winning the Lengthen The Odds with BetVictor Maiden at Dundalk – who is seen as a potential Kentucky Derby candidate by the handler.
USS Michigan is one of two runners from Ballydoyle in the Cardinal Stakes over a mile the final European event in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series. A win is likely to guarantee his place in the field for the “Run For The Roses” for which USS Michigan is 33/1 at BetVictor.
Fast ground is the order of the day for today’s card at Nottingham where the feature race is the listed Further Flight Stakes over 1m 6f. The filly Pilaster (3.05) is taken to make a winning reappearance for Roger Varian with Ryan Moore a significant jockey booking.
The selection won her first three starts as a 3-y-old before finishing third in the Gp 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster back in September. The filly receives 5lbs from Mark Johnston’s Elegiac who has finished runner up in five of his last six starts and may again have to settle for the silver medal this afternoon.
Vasiliev (1.30) was slowly away at Kempton on his sole juvenile start when runner up to Roger Varian’s Manorah back in November. The selection represents the stable of Clive Cox who did us a favour courtesy of Lethal Missile at Windsor on Monday. The colt has a cracking draw in stall one – as long as he traps better than he did on debut – and is a full brother to the talented Zonderland who won a Group 3 for the yard and was rated 110.
New Graduate is on a long list of horses to follow I have for 2019 on the flat but he is drawn in stall 16 – of 16 – in the valuable mile handicap and he is reluctantly overlooked. Bowerman (3.35) is a 5-year-old entire who has only raced three times to date but the only horse to beat him in those three runs is non other than the champion stayer Stradivarius who beat the selection a head at Newcastle back in November 2016.
Andrea Atzeni keeps the ride on Roger Varian’s horse who is well drawn in stall six. A 489-day absence is a major cause for concern, but he remains potentially very smart and open to further improvement. The market should provide valuable clues.
In the first division of the 10f handicap She’s Apples (4.40) looked to be crying out for a step up in trip when third at Kempton over a mile last month. The new team of Jason Watson and Roger Charlton have already had a winner this turf season and this filly is taken to defy what could be a lenient opening mark.
At Warwick the mare Elusive Belle (3.15) finished in mid-division in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last time but had previously finished runner up to subsequent Aintree Grade 1 winner Reserve Tank at Sandown. Today’s better ground should suit, and she can defy her penalty picked up when winning at Wetherby back in January.
Sid Hoodie (5.55) ran well on her handicap debut in a “hands & heels “event for conditional and amateur jockeys and Rex Dingle takes off a valuable 5lbs in the closing 2m mares’ handicap. Charlie Mann’s 5-y-old won a Newton Abbot Bumper back in June and seems to be slowly getting her act together over timber.
At Kempton this evening Pentland Lad (6.15) carries a 6lbs penalty for winning over C&D last week and James Doyle looks a significant jockey booking for Charlie Fellowes. The selection is well drawn in stall 4 this evening and is 3lbs “well in” under his penalty having been raised 9lbs by the handicapper for last week’s fluent victory.