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13:50 York

The Channel Four coverage gets underway with the devilishly difficult Queen Mother’s Cup for Lady Amateur riders over the 1m4f trip.

Brian Ellison won this race 12 months ago and he returns with another strong hand here today with his latest contender Nietzsche. The three year old gets a handy weight-for-age allowance here that will only enhance strong claims given he has already scored twice in his last three starts already this term. He disappointed last time out over course and distance, however, and it may prove wise to stick with a more progressive sort.

One such horse could be Nayel from the Richard Hannon yard. The four-year-old colt was impressive last term winning two of his three starts while always being on the premises and confirmed his well being this year when winning a valuable handicap at today’s venue last time out. Further progression looked likely that day and the booking of the very talented Katie Walsh would indicate that he is ready The main danger to selection will likely come from Alan King’s Oceane. The assistance of top amateur rider Serena Brotherton will be a major plus in this field, the horse returned to the flat last month with a decent effort following a successful hurdling stint and should give the selection the most to think about at this sort of trip.



14:10 Sandown

The first trip to Sandown is an intriguing handicap for three-year-olds over 1m1f and is a field that contains a number of potentially smart horses.

One of those is definitely Mick Channon’s twiced raced colt Star Blaze. The horse improved nicely from its debut effort to land a Newmarket maiden over a mile last month and he is open to any kind of progression now tackling handicap company for the first time. He hold definite each way claims, but will be interesting to see if he copes in such a hot field.

Another horse full of promise is the John Gosden colt Dommersen and the booking of Frankie Dettori would suggest a bold bid is expected. The Dutch Art colt looked progressive when accounting for a pair of subsequent winners on return at Lingfield on the all weather, before he followed up nicely at Wolverhampton, but although he is still unexposed over this further trip today, he is a further 6lb higher for his return to turf and he must prove that he is just as effective here today.

The most interesting horse has to be Karl Burke’s High Draw. The three-year-old has got better with every run and has been on the premises on every single start so far. He was only denied by a nose on his second start before going one better to break his maiden tag over a mile at Wetherby last month. The opening mark here looks fair on those efforts, but jockey Jordan Vaughan takes off a handy 5lb claim and so that represents some decent value in this field at an attractive each way price.



14:25 York

The second visit to Yorkshire of the afternoon is for the 7f handicap for three-year-olds and older. The Richard Fahey stable looks to be back hitting top form at the moment and he comes in here double handed with two live chances. Rene Mathis was desperately unlucky in his run at Chester last time out, but can run off the exact same mark here today and a similar effort here may be good enough. The booking of jockey James Doyle catches the eye also, but the six-year-old is not one for maximum faith due to its inconsistency. The yard’s other runner Withernsea looks to hold similarly strong claims as he looks to follow up on a cracking effort at Haydock last time out where he lost out in second by just a length despite being denied a clear run so he should go close here, but he mainly does his winning at Doncaster these days and track form is a definite negative.

Mark Johnston’s Enlace continues to tumble down the weights and will likely pop up at some point despite a number of disappointing efforts recently and the filly actually won four times last season over today’s trip, but she has looked so far out of sorts that she is best watched for now.

The intriguing horse in the field has to be Roger Varian’s Mujassam. The four-year-old returned to form with a commendable third to a decent Godolphin winner last time out and he showed the right attitude in defeat that day. The first time blinkers replace the visor here today and may just be the catalyst for another big run seven furlongs is absolutely ideal for him and so a bold bid is expected. Paul Hanagan gives his assistance in the saddle and so he gets the nod at a very attractive each way price.



14:45 Sandown

King’s Pavillion for the Mark Johnston horse could not have been anymore impressive than when romping to victory at Epsom downs last time out and so he will be looking to follow up here in this competitive mile handicap. He beat a well-handicapped Richard Fahey horse that day, but has lost previously to that stable’s re-opposing runner today, Dolphin Vista. That horse has been so progressive again this year and hasn’t been out of the first two in his last three starts in a run that included two wins. The latter of those came last time out by some three and a bit lengths and so the booking of jockey Frankie Dettori could prove significant, but he has a further 7lb rise to deal with here and he could be vulnerable to a better handicapped rival.

One such rival may just be Michael Bell’s Franklin D. The four-year-old was a winner over course and distance maiden here last season and he returned from a three month absence with a very respectable run over 1m2f in a Newmarket handicap to finish third. The return to a mile here today is well in his favour, he has some nice pieces of form to his name in defeat and the application of a first time visor may just sharpen him up enough to play a prominent role here so he looks a rock solid each way bet in this one.



15:00 York

The Ganton stakes is a listed contest over a mile and contains a field with a number of intriguing runners. John Gosden brings the five-year-old Muwaary back to the track on the comeback trail following almost two years off the track and his smart form from 2014 would make him a strong contender to win this one, but you cannot ignore the long absence and it would be quite the training fit to have the horse ready to resume winning ways at first time of asking at this level, he is best watched for now. Charlie Hills steps Jalotta back up in trip following his impressive 7f win here last month and the horse clearly loves it here and at this time of year having won on this card at last year’s meeting so another bold bid is likely today with Jamie Spencer booked to do the steering. The one doubt over that challenger would be whether or not he can be as effective over the mile trip.

One horse already well assured of winning form over todays mile trip is Roger Varian’s Mindurownbusiness. The five year old progressed into a very smart miler on the all weather this winter, even although he fell just short on his attempt to win the winter mile championship in March. he has been off the track since, but he has gone well after a break in the past and won two of his last four starts on the turf so he looks well poised for another bold run today in the hands of the astute Jim Crowley in the saddle and he gets the nod.



15:10 Musselburgh

The Channel Four coverage heads north of the border for the first of two races from the East Lothian track. Olivia Fallow can make a bold bid in this competitive sprint handicap over 5f today. Paul Midgley’s four year old was fairly progressive despite being lightly raced last season and looked better than ever when posting a career best when just denied close home over course and distance a fortnight ago. She is actually 1lb lower here today with excellent claimer Joe Doyle doing the steering off a plum draw and so gets the nod to give a bold showing here.

Of the rest, Jim Goldie’s Classy Anne is very interesting off her current mark. The six-year-old is now only 1lb off her last winning mark and was robbed on the line two starts back. The mare can be forgiven her under the weather effort at Hamilton last time with it coming so soon after her bold effort at Ayr and despite some slight doubts about the ground, it would be foolish to let her go off without a small each way interest also at a huge price for her trainer who does very well here.

The main danger to both horses will likely be Kevin Ryan’s Distant Past who was fourth in this last term. The five year old is a dual course and distance winner he showed signs of a revival with an admirable fifth here last time and he can definitely play a part here.




15:20 Sandown

Michael Dods star horse Easton Angel looked back to its brilliant best when beating the boys in style at York in taking fashion. The manner of that victory suggested there was much more to come from her this term and the fact that she made the frame in three different Group Twos last term would suggest she could easily be too classy for this field as well. She clocked a decent time that day and has some of the best speed figures in the race, she looks like a major player sticking to listed level for this one and gets the confident nod to add to her tally.

The race does look like a head to head between the selection and William Haggas’ Ornate. The three year old was narrowly beaten in the Flying Childers back in September and is an admirable sort who always seems to give his running. But he has a number of questions to answer now having producing some below par efforts on the all weather during the winter. He has been off the track for over 150 days since, but with booking of Ryan Moore, he is clearly expected to make a bold bid against the selection. An interesting outsider in the field is the George Scott trained Shaden. Three wins from five starts last term for Lady Cecil. The filly ended her campaign with a decent Group three success and so can give the two principles something to think about if fully wound up on her return against the boys here.



15:35 York

The Charity Sprint handicap over six furlongs looks to be between three in-form sprinters this afternoon. Andrew Balding’s Dancing Star comes here seeking the hat trick after impressively following up a win at Salisbury with an impressive showing against older horses at Goodwood last time out. The latter win for his shrewd trainer was in a very taking manner, but the addition of another 9lb rise in the weights may just be enough to anchor him today.

Another race candidate seeking the hat trick of wins is Rae Guest’s Udontdodou. The three year old could not have been more impressive when winning in style in back to back races of 5f. The latter of those was in a wide margin success at Windsor and the retention of the excellent Jason Hart is another plus in his favour. He has another 10b hit for that latest win to deal with here, but it still may not be enough to halt his progress and the extra furlong will be absolutely fine for him too so he gets the nod here.

The main danger in the race will likely come from John Quinn’s Ikerrin Road. The horse has made the frame in all four outings this term winning three times. The form of the latter of those victories is working out really well after that rival came out and won since, he would likely need to improve again to win this, but not out of the question and he will definitely give his running once again in a wide open contest.



15:45 Musselburgh

A highly competitive 5f handicap sprint from Scotland ends the day TV coverage in the form of the Scottish Sprint Cup. The likely favourite on the day will probably be Davie Nicholls’ Kimberella after a  narrow miss in the Epsom Dash on Derby weekend. Freddie Tylicki takes the mount here and a bold bid is expected, but the horses’ win rate leaves a lot to be desired in such a competitive field and so he looks skinny enough in the market.

Eric Alston’s Red Baron looks likely to give his running again here today having won this race last term. The seven year old had four wins to his name last season and has already gone close twice this term so will be popular in the market, but he still looks a shade high in the weights and may need some help from the handicapper before he troubles the judge again.

The most interesting contender in the field is Tim Easterby’s Confessional. The nine-year-old looks well treated on the best of his old form even after a hard fought win last time out at Goodwood. He was third in this race last year and can now race off a mark only 1lb higher for his year’s renewal. He does have a tricky draw to over come, but the form of the yard fills the confidence of a bold run and a chance is taking on him each way at a massive double figured price.




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About Graeme Lafferty

Horse racing pundit for PicksfromthePaddock.co.uk


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