Saturday looks to be a cracking day of racing, with the best races coming from Newmarket and Punchestown. I have picked out seven selections, with two big each way opportunities. Hopefully we can hit the ground running with a few winners.
I backed MASCAT a couple of weeks ago at Ripon, and on that day, you would have to say that he was rather unlucky. He ran on well, so the drop back in trip would not seem ideal, but the drop in distance is countered by the stiff and demanding track of Newmarket.
This is his third start this season, so he should be the fittest in this race, which is always a positive at this time of year where horses are returning from big layoffs. Laura Pearson is a cracking 5lb apprentice, and with her allowance, Mascat will be running off 8st 4lbs.
Advised: Each Way
I would like to think that this race is between three horses, as I am prepared to write off Pablo Escobarr & Thunderous.
AL ZARAQAAN is my fancy of the remaining three, as he looks to have that appealing, unexposed, lightly raced profile. There is no doubt that this is a big step-up in grade than what he has previously encountered, but I am willing to give him a try.
The form of his recent win is working out extremely well:
- (2nd) Almighwar – Since ran a big race at Newbury (2nd), producing an RPR of 108.
- (3rd) United front – Won a Class 2 at Chelmsford on his next start.
- (4th) Soto Sizzler – Second at Epson, producing an RPR of 101.
Obviously, he will need to improve to beat the likes of Pyledriver & Sir Ron Priestly, but I think Pyledriver will not be 100% fit for this, as he has got an entry in the Coronation Cup in June, so this could be a steppingstone for that race.
Sir Ron Priestly might find this distance too short, I expect him to lead and set it up nicely for our selection.
As boring as it may seem, I am siding with the favourite for the 2000 Guineas, WEMBLEY. I had a look at this race a few weeks ago and tried breaking it down, and I could not seem to look past Wembley.
Even from last year, you could tell this is the type of horse to win a 2000 Guineas. Aidan ran him at the track in his final run, where he ran well, but finished 2nd behind his stablemate St Mark’s Basilica. That run was very encouraging, he was held up for most of the race and then ran on strongly in the final furlong, which is a big tick in my box as you will need to confident that your selection will stay the stiff 1m.
Also on that day, he reversed the form with Thunder Moon who is currently second fav for the 2000 Guineas, and he did that by outstaying him. Though Ryan Moore often gets it wrong with the horses he picks, I think it is a good indicator that he is riding Wembley.
This race often favours the horses who are towards the bottom of the handicap and are carrying the least amount of weight.
Though it is not ideal for the people who follow the selections, I do fancy the chances of two runners, but they can be considered quite risky, so smaller stakes are advised.
AVERNE is my main fancy for this race. It is always a tough call when backing JP McManus horses in big field handicaps, as you never know if they are ever going to ‘try’, as often, the ‘application of money’ is when you see horses in these colours run their best races. Despite this, and whether the money will arrive for this horse or not, I do think he has been set out for this race. He is not a guaranteed stayer, but he won over 3m 1f at this track last December, and he did that easily, so the step up in trip looks like it could bring out further improvement.
My second play in this race is DROMORE LAD, who will need to bounce back to form to have a chance in this. With the jockey’s 7lb claim, he will be running off 10st 2lbs. This horse won the Cork Grand National last November, and he won it by 9 lengths. Since then, his jumping has been ropey, but if he irons out those problems, he could be a big player, as he should stay this trip.
Advised: Each Way
With Henry De Bromhead winning the last two renewals of this race, I get the feeling he likes to target it. Heron Heights has been his winner of this race the last two years, and the year before winning it, the same horse finished third.
My feeling is that POPONG has been targeted this race for some time. Rachael Blackmore favours her to Stacks Mountain, who on paper looks to have a decent enough chance.
Popong has not ran over this far, but the fact Rachael favours her over his stablemate gives the confidence that she will indeed stay. She is still lightly raced over fences and has ran nicely in a few decent handicaps in latter parts of last year.
Advised: Each Way
At this time of year, the weight for age allowance is huge, and will give the 3yo’s a big advantage. LILAC ROAD will receive 13lbs from her opponents, other than her stablemate Illykato, who should not be good enough to win.
Lilac Road has already run this season, so she will be 100% ready for this. That run resulted in a win, where she beat a Gosden odds on favourite, and she won it easily.
The form from her 2yo campaign seems strong as well. She finished behind the likes of Indigo Girl (112 rated), Dubai Fountain (110 rated) and Zabeel Queen (102 rated).