THERE was a theory a few years ago that Mark Johnston’s horses didn’t act at York but that has been turned on its head and the Middleham maestro can land the two-mile Lonsdale Cup with NAYEF ROAD (2.15).
The four-year-old is a stout stayer and won’t have to contend with Stradivarius, twice his conqueror at Ascot and Goodwood this season. The famous Hamdan Al Maktoum colours are everywhere it seems and Enbihaar fairly bounced off the quick ground at Goodwood when accounting for Cabaletta in the Lillie Langtry Stakes. John Gosden’s mare wouldn’t want too much ease underfoot in this stronger contest. Dashing Willoughby has won his last two races, at Newmarket and Sandown, and represents the Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy combo.
The Johnston team have bright prospects of landing the opener with dual Newmarket winner ZABEEL CHAMPION (1.45), denied his hat-trick when beaten narrowly by outsider Junkanoo at Glorious Goodwood. Gosden takes the wraps off lightly-raced Alfaatik following a 455-day absence and market vibes should be noted.
MINZAAL (2.45) bids to lay down a marker as a classy juvenile by scooping the Gimcrack Stakes. The Owen Burrows-trained colt showed greenness on debut when behind re-opposing Mohawk King at Ascot but produced a scintillating performance next time at Salisbury when cruising clear in the manner of an exciting prospect. Yazaman was sent off a warm favourite in the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood but could never lay a glove on speedy Supremacy.
WALIYAK (4.15) was gambled into 13-8 favourite at Goodwood but probably gave front-running winner Chamade too much rope. Roger Varian's filly is weighted to turn that form around and may have more to fear from Asiaaf, also runner-up at Goodwood on his last outing.
At Salisbury, BURGUILLOS (4.25) can complete a four-timer in the amateur riders’ handicap. The top weight is well positioned in stall four and Alice Haynes’ 3lb allowance helps reduce the 4lb penalty Burguillos picked up for winning over course and distance last Thursday.
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