Saturday’s Temple Stakes at Haydock Park promises to be an absolute cracker with trainer Charlie Hills reporting on Monday that last year’s winner Battash was on target to make his seasonal debut over the flying five furlongs. The gelding is 6/4 to return to winning ways at BetVictor with the mare Mabs Cross – who must give the favourite 2lbs – 3/1 and Ballydoyle’s 3-year-old Sergei Prokofiev and Tom Dascombe’s admirable Kachy at 9/2. If all four stand their ground this will be a vintage renewal of this Gp 2 sprint.
It was widely expected that last season’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot would be next seen at Royal Ascot in the St James’s Palace Stakes having looked a non-stayer over 10f when runner up in the Dante last week. Trainer John Gosden has, however, left the colt in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday at the five-day stage and he is 15/8 at BetVictor to land the classic.
The listed Rothesay Stakes for fillies and mares over 10f at Ayr is today’s highlight although only six go to post in what looks a modest contest for the grade. The lightly-raced Skill Set has a bit to find on the book, but she is open to significant improvement and it will be interesting to see what the market says of her chances.
The vote, however, goes to Shenanigans (4.05) who returns to 10f having looked ready for a step back up in trip when fourth at Kempton in the listed Snowdrop Stakes last month. From stall one I hope to see Andrea Atzeni make most on Roger Varian’s 5-y-old. Do note the stable won the corresponding race in 2017 – albeit with the subsequent Group 1 winner Nezwaah who went off at ½ when she should have been nearer 1/10.
If Universal Gleam (3.05) is more amenable to restraint than he was at Hamilton five days ago then Keith Dalgleish’s 4-year-old will be very hard to beat despite his 5lbs penalty. The selection made all returning from a long break last time and it is possible he will “bounce” after those exertions. Such was the ease of his success, however, that he is taken to follow up for his inform yard.
My Valentino (5.40) looked ready for a step up to a mile when a staying on third at Musselburgh last time and she gets the each way vote for Dianne Sayer whose two runners at Carlisle on Monday finished 1st and 2nd at 14/1 and 50/1 respectively.
In the opening Mile Apprentice Handicap at Kempton I hope to see another Roger Varian winner courtesy of Kingdom Of Dubai (5.55) who is weighted to finish much closer to Jamie Osborne’s Capofaro on recent Wolverhampton running. The latter is seeking a 4-timer, but the selection is well drawn for one who has gone from the front in the past.
James Fanshawe’s Sleeping Lion (7.55) gets the vote in the 11f handicap having shaped with promise when runner up at Wolverhampton on his reappearance when he was fitted with a first-time hood last month. The headgear is dispensed with this evening.
At Warwick winning pointer Story Of Friends (2.20) is taken to follow up his recent Exeter Bumper success for David Pipe. The selection’s point win was gained with plenty of give but he showed his versatility when justifying favouritism earlier in the month in a first-time tongue-tie which is applied again this afternoon.
There is a valuable 2m Handicap Hurdle and last year’s winner Mister Universum (3.55) should be spot on for this repeat bid from a 2lbs lower mark having had a prep run at Plumpton last month when it would be fair to say he wasn’t knocked about. Not Never and Peruvian Blue are considered the main dangers in a terrific midweek contest.