Five To Follow On The Flat – 2017

The flat season got underway at Doncaster last Saturday and as has become customary, we’re going to take a look at five horses to follow on the level.

There won’t be appearances from the obvious elite, such as Churchill or Caravaggio from the Aidan O’Brien camp, though hopefully we’ll still find a few winners.

SIR DANCEALOT (3yo colt – D R Elsworth)

Finishing ninth in an average Windsor maiden at 33/1 was a rather inauspicious start Sir Dancealot’s career.

However he has gone from strength to strength and developed into an animal of huge potential.

There was plenty of smart money for the colt on his second start and he duly obliged, showing a nice turn of foot to score impressively at Kempton.

He followed up in a Conditions race at the same venue comfortably seeing off four decent rivals despite being keen.

Questions were raised about whether or not he would be able to transfer that form onto the turf and those were in answered in some style, with a huge run at HQ.

This time he was held up towards the rear before making smooth headway under soon-to-be champion jockey, Jim Crowley. He didn’t show a turn of foot and flattened out into a very close third behind two very useful animals.

The fourth horse has subsequently won a Group Three in style, which franked the form well.

Sir Dancealot stayed on well to land a Listed race over 6f on his next start, handling the drop back in trip well, before finishing a one paced fifth in the Racing Post Trophy.

This day he moved nicely but couldn’t really sustain the effort, so it will interesting to see how he is campaigned.

A break will have seen him strengthen so he will be of interest stepped back up to a mile (his dam was a daughter of Danehill Dancer) but he has the potential to make his presence felt should he stick to 6f/7f.

CORONET (3yo filly – J Gosden)

This one may not have crept under the radar of many but she still ranks as one of the most exciting fillies’ in training.

Coronet was well supported on debut and still managed to land the spoils despite running very green.

She ran on strongly to pick it up before idling in front. It didn’t look overly impressive but it left the impression there was plenty more to come.

She was brought back for the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, where she maintained her unbeaten record, grinding past a race-hardened rival, who was rated 92.

This was a lot more eye-catching as she was steadied towards the start before making steady headway over two furlongs out. Despite being bumped, she picked up smartly to win by a neck.

It was a big effort considering it was just her second start and she is bred to appreciate a trip. She looks a nice filly for the Oaks and could be one to keep an eye one ahead of all the top 10f-12f fillies races this season.


A long term plot is something that gets plenty of punters excited and with this in mind, Master Blueyes makes the list.

Alan King’s grey made a rather inauspicious start to life on the level as a 2yo before seemingly strengthening up the following year.

He scored at York (this will come to be important) on his first start as a 3yo, staying on best of all over 12f, before following up by the narrowest of margins at Chester.

The rest of the season was spent hitting the crossbar in staying races around the country, including two more nice runs on the Knavesmire.

He finished fifth in the Melrose Stakes before he was punted off the boards when he returned to the track in October. He went off fav and was mighty close to landing the gamble, only just going down by a head from Calvinist.

This was off a mark of 84 and this was his last start on the flat. He was stuffed on his debut over hurdles (listed race at Wetherby), though a mistake at the first may have been enough to dent his confidence that day.

His next four runs seen him finish second to the highly rated Charli Parcs, a neck second to the very talented Divin Bere and two wide-margin wins, including a Grade 2 at Kempton.

He was slightly taken off his feet when going off well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, though he is much better than his tenth place finish.

Tiredness set in when a mistake at the last ended hopes of a better final position. Still, it was a superb run of efforts and best of all, his mark on the flat now looks very attractive.

He looks tailor-made for a crack at the Ebor and although he won’t be under the radar for long, it could be long enough to get a nice price for August at York, which could be the plan.

NAGGERS (6yo – P Midgely)

This is the first (and last) of the five runners that have already appeared this season, yet that run should give even more hope that he’s one to follow.

Midgely does very well with a select group of sprinters and it looks as though Naggers is progressing with age.

After almost a year off the track, he managed to claim three wins in just six starts last season, culminating in a battling victory at Ayr.

He snuck in off a nice mark of 84 in a competitive handicap at Doncaster on the second day of the Lincoln meeting, shaping very nicely indeed.

Positioned towards the rear by Paul Mulrennan, the 6yo sliced between runners with his rider motionless.

After meeting slight trouble in running, he picked up smartly when asked a question, running on well to finish a fairly unlucky fourth.

He has form on ground racing from good to soft, so there is no qualms with conditions. He looks as though he could have a nice prize in him and a return to Ayr later in the season wouldn’t be a massive surprise.

SOUTH SEAS (3yo A Balding)

Finally, we round off the five to follow with a very talented three-year-old.

The Colt left quite an impression when obliterating the field in a solid Windsor maiden before following up the victory at Haydock.

Despite a slow start, he landed the Group 3 Solario Stakes with the minimum of fuss, hitting the line hard to suggest a step up to a mile will benefit in time.

He looked to have every chance of causing a slight upset in the Dewhurst, travelling strongly into the race but he was taken slightly off his feet in the end, failing to see it out in such a competitive race.

His final assignment of the season seen him travel to Saint Cloud (a sign of the esteem in which he is held at home) where he ran very well on softer than ideal ground.

Thunder Snow was the only horse to get the better of him that day and he has subsequently gone on to land the UAE Derby.

South Seas looks to have plenty of potential to progress as a three year old and it would be no surprise to see him land more group success this season. He’s currently 40/1 for the 2000 Guineas, which seems fair.

Definitly Red Can Land Grand National Glory

The Grand National is a race that drags people into the racing whirlwind for ten adrenaline-pumping minutes, once a year.

The once-a-year punters that pick names, colours or maybe their lucky number, are all glued to the television screen as forty horses descend across 30 obstacles on Merseyside.

As always, it looks like a very difficult race to dissect, with so many different variables to take into account. Ground, stamina, course form, ability to jump a fence, weight… and of course, luck.

For the 2017 renewal, we’ll be taking a chance on Definitly Red. It’s not the most fashionable choice, given his place towards the head of the market but he looks as solid a selection as you will find.

He’s only ever been out of the first three once if he’s completed (appreciate that could be a big IF at Aintree) and that was in the Champion Bumper back in 2014. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and he boasts a plethora of really strong form in the book.

After a nice start to the season, he snatched the headlines when running away with a competitive looking Rowland Meyrick Chase, beating Wakanda and Blaklion with ease. He was never going to trouble to runaway winner on his next start at Haydock, where he was hampered and unseated his rider three out.

This could have dented his confidence, so it was pleasing to see him no ill effects as he put in his biggest performance to date last time out. He showed he enjoyed a stamina test, as he bounded clear over 3m 2f last time, putting clear distance between himself and the field.

He was getting 12lb off The Last Samuri, last year’s Grand National runner-up and again at Aintree, he receives the same amount. He’s 10lb well in on figures and although the lack of experience over the Aintree fences is a negative, trainer Brian Ellison has given glowing reports after the horse schooled over similar style obstacles.

Ellison appears very bullish and with the current good ground, which could be a major positive for the horse, the 12/1 looks a fair bet.

Selection: Definitly Red (Grand National) @ 12/1 (Various)

Yorkhill Sparks Excitement

Willie Mullins was left in a peculiar position, as we entered day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

Having been accustomed to ‘Ruby Tuesday’s’, where the grey-haired maestro would guide home many of Mullins’ machines to get punters off to a flyer, we were left open-mouthed as the pair drew blanks.

After 14 races, Mullins had no winners. Was this real life?

Rumours that all was not well in the Mullins yard began to surface and subsequently, his Thursday runners started the day rather week in the market.

Yorkhill, many peoples idea of a Festival NAP went from 11/10 to 6/4 on the day, though this in truth may well have been down to the horse in question, not the trainer.

No one can question Yorkhill’s engine, he is racings equivalent of a Porsche. Sharp, goes through the gears smoothly and often looks a million dollars. However, the horse has his quirks.

At Aintree last season, Paul Townend has his arms all but yanked out of their sockets for a large part of the race before the Graham Wylie-owned charge someone managed to reserve enough energy to scramble home.

It was here you realised just what he was capable of and it was arguably more eye opening than his Neptune victory, where he shattered the heart of the flamboyant Yanworth.

Yorkhill’s jumping career was solid but not spectacular. He jumped out to his left at times but no jockey had needed to get to the bottom of him.l in his two starts over fences pre-Cheltenham.

His performance at Leopardstown led to people to ask whether it was best for him to be out in front for so long, as he seemed to idle up the run in, having previously moved nicely clear.

This, coupled with an error-strewn opening to Yorkhill’s final public schooling session meant there were still plenty of questions to answer at Prestbury Park.

And answer he did. In some style.

He travelled powerfully for Ruby Walsh, having been buried towards the rear, a position in which he seemed thrive.

Moving through the race, he jumped impeccably, grew in confidence and approaching two out, he found himself with a dream run up the inside.

It was here you realised just what he was capable of and it was arguably more eye opening than his Neptune victory, where he shattered the heart of the flamboyant Yanworth.

Yorkhill’s jumping career was solid but not spectacular. He jumped out to his left at times but no jockey had needed to get to the bottom of him.l in his two starts over fences pre-Cheltenham.

His performance at Leopardstown led to people to ask whether it was best for him to be out in front for so long, as he seemed to idle up the run in, having previously moved nicely clear.

This, coupled with an error-strewn opening to Yorkhill’s final public schooling session meant there were still plenty of questions to answer at Prestbury Park.

And answer he did. In some style.

He travelled powerfully for Ruby Walsh, having been buried towards the rear, a position in which he seemed thrive.

Moving through the race, he jumped impeccably, grew in confidence and approaching two out, he found himself with a dream run up the inside.

He moved stylishly to draw alongside Top Notch, who was also moving well.

Yorkhill winged the second last and moved powerfully away. Top Notch hit the top of it and although he rallied well, he failed to ever get back alongside Yorkhill, as Mullins’ charge fought well to claim the JLT, meaning wins at back-to-back festivals.

Again, he didn’t do too much in front and idled slightly towards the line but the manner in which he took himself to the front, was eye catching.

His only defeat came at Punchestown, which arrived just two weeks after a tough race at Aintree.

Given a nice break between the races, he looks a machine and excitement is high ahead of next season.

He is versatile and has plenty of options available to him, which obviously isn’t ideal from an ante-post point of view but given the esteem in which he is held, you have to fancy he will be given a chance at the big one.

Although all the initial fancy prices have since disappeared, the 8/1 looks fair value and it would be no surprise to see him develop into an elite chaser.

Selection: Yorkhill to win the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup @ 8/1 (Various)

Blaklion Can Go Well In Hennessy

The Hennessy Gold Cup is often the most eagerly anticipated National Hunt race outside of Cheltenham for many purists and this season’s renewal looks set to be a thriller.

Native River heads the betting after following up his Cheltenham runner-up effort with a superb performance at Aintree. His reappearance behind Silsol at Wetherby on his return was a cracking effort over the smaller obstacles and that should see him spot on for Saturday.

Will he give Colin Tizzard another big Saturday winner after Cue Card’s tremendous effort last week? Possibly, but we’ll be cheering for a different result. Sorry, Colin.

A horse that Native River got the better of at Aintree, Blaklion, is a horse who can’t be ignore and he should also arrive in full fitness.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 7-y-o ran a nice enough race in the Charlie Hall, travelling strongly until fading in the home straight. He looked as though he was in need of the run but moved nicely and jumped well on ground that was less than ideal.

He has ran extremely well with plenty of cut in the ground, with a wide-margin win at Wetherby in February (with Native River 18l back in third) and a solid effort behind the classy Seeyouatmidnight in the Dipper suggested he may appreciate Saturday’s likely surface.

He put in a huge effort at Aintree, when third behind Native River, given how hard a race he had when outbattling Shaneshill to win the RSA at Cheltenham. He left little behind that day and he showed tremendous class to go as close as he did on Merseyside.

After a nice break, his Wetherby effort was enough to suggest he has retained plenty of ability, with the 3m 2f trip around soft ground on Newbury looking ideal. He will be allowed to gallop on in behind Smad Place and he can showcase his lovely jumping and strong-travelling characteristics.

At a current 10/1, he looks a solid each-way bet, especially with a number of firms offering five and in some cases, six places.


1pt e.w (Hennessy Gold Cup): Blaklion @ 10/1 (various, Paddy Power and Sky Bet paying 5 and 6 places).

Follow Don Poli On Grand National Trail

After another emotional weekend at Cheltenham, the dust has begun to settle. Nicky Henderson’s stable star Sprinter Sacre was retired after a glistening caterer before Simonsig’a resurgence was tragically cut short after a fall on Sunday. It shows the lows of the game and my thoughts are with all at Seven Barrows.

Looking to the future, Nicky will have a number of big runners to try and have some small silver lining, with My Tent Or Yours and Vyta Du Roc looking to hold major claims shortly.

However today I’m looking slightly further ahead, bypassing even the Cheltenham Festival. The Grand National is a race for the nation, that the purists aren’t too keen on overly investing it.

With 30 fences and four and a half miles to travel, there is plenty that can go wrong but with recent moderation, fallers are rarer than ever.

So, it may be worth taking a small punt on a horse that looks tailor made for the race, given his class and scope to enjoy a stamina sapping trip.

That horse, is last years Cheltenham Gold Cup third, Don Poli. Having won twice at the Cheltenham Festival precious to that, including a staying-on effort in the RSA Chase, he’s proven he has tons of ability, though it’s always been fairly obvious that he’s not a horse blessed with raw speed.

Often referred to a ‘boat’, Don Poli stays on gamely in nearly all of his races, shown to full effect in last years Gold Cup, when he was woefully outpaced before rattling up the hill to take third.

A true test looks ideal for him and connections gave him a spin at Aintree last year, where he looked a sitting duck for the strong travelling Many Clouds (that years Grand National winner), before out battling him despite saddle problems.

It may have been a run to test out suitability for the track with a future Grand National run in mind and given Gigginstown often have a strong hand in the race (won it last year with Rule The World), it looks likely that Don Poli will have his season plotted around Aintree in April.

He has moved to Gordon Elliot’s yard after Michae O’Leary moved his horses from Willie Mullins and this may not be a bad thing with Aintree in mind.

Elliot sprung on to the scene as an exuberant young trainer as Silver Birch won the Grand National back in 2007, in a campaign that showed he could get one ready for its big day.

Mullins had struggled with Iuck and finding the ‘right horse’ at Aintree, so a move to Elliot could be a blessing for his National chances.

His last run is a slight concern, given he failed to show any remnants of last seasons quality but he was hampered and he is sure to strip fitter for that effort.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him revert to hurdles for a spell and maybe try his hand in a couple of big chases, which could see his mark slip for a crack at the big one in April.

Don Poli is currently available at 25/1, which seems fair at this point in time and bet365 are already offering five places.

Selection: Grand National – Don Poli @ 25/1 (Various)

Prince Of Scars Could Land RSA Crown

We’re only just entering the very early stages of the National Hunt season but there’s already whispers of the Cheltenham Festival after a very enjoyable Cheltenham Showcase meeting.

One of the most enjoyable betting feelings (although it nearly always ends in tears) is taking fancy prices about a horse early in the season and then sitting smugly as it continues to shorten until the day of the race, should it actually make it unscathed, at Cheltenham.

It carries obvious risks and isn’t always the greatest money-making scheme, though there are definite reasons to suggest singles and perhaps doubles, could be worth pursuing if you think the price is right.

One horse in particular who could be worth following en route to The Festival is Gordon Elliot’s Prince Of Scars. The former classy hurdler looks set to embark on a Novices’ Chase campaign this season and after showing plenty of ability last year, he looks interesting in the big races at Cheltenham.

However, if you are contemplating a punt on the horse, be prepared for the fact he will only run, should the ground be sufficiently soft. Cheltenham in March is a question mark, as we have seen extremely heavy or rattling quick, so that has to be something to bear in mind.

Still, if you are committed to the cause, then the current 33/1 for the RSA Chase could prove to be very tempting. Those towards the head of the market have plenty of question marks about potential engagements over hurdles/fences, 2m4f & 3m, so it could be a race to steer clear of, if you’re not overly fond of taking a risk.

Prince Of Scars made a rather inauspicious start to maiden hurdling, though his runner-up effort in a Listed Hurdle on his second start over the obstacles suggested he had some ability. He was put away for a decent break after switching to the Gordon Elliott yard and that seemed to do the trick, as he has since won three of his four races.

He won a handicap hurdle a shade cosily on his first start for the yard before showing battling qualities, to follow up soon after in a thrilling finish at Navan. His home work must have suggested he was worth a go in better company as he was seemingly tossed in the deep end in the Grade One Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown in late December.

The Heavy ground seemed to work in his favour as he travelled beautifully before pulling clear of genuine top quality animals, Alpha Des Obeaux, Martello Tower and Arctic Fire.

He swerved Cheltenham and waited for the subsequent softer ground at Aintree where he ran on well without ever threatening Thistlecrack and Shaneshill. 0pair are real Grade One animals, so finishing as close as he did was a solid effort.

The scope he possesses and his action over hurdles, suggest he may be suited to fences and in a recent interview, Gordon Elliot suggested he is looking forward to the soft ground so he can get Prince Of Scars back out.

Elliott is usually brilliant at finding an opportunity for a horse early on and if he can show he get round in style, the 33/1 for the RSA may well shorten. All things being well, we will be treated to a wetter Cheltenham this season and this lad may well turn up as a real contended in the RSA.


1pt e.w – RSA Chase – Prince Of Scars @ 33/1 (bet365)


Five To Follow – National Hunt 16/17

It’s that time of the season, when the horses to follow lists come out and horses are jotted into trackers and notebooks across the land.

The National Hunt sphere sees old favourite come back year on year, so my particular five to follow are fairly young (majority are novices’), so that there may be value in following them progress.

Hopefully the sextet can see us build up to the big days with plenty of profit already banked!

EDWULF (7-y-o gelding – Joseph O’Brien – JP McManus)

Another to keep an eye on as the season progresses is the potentially useful Edwulf. He’s in the capable hands of fledgling trainer Joseph O’Brien after moving from father Aidan’s yard after his switch from Ben Pauling.

He ran three times for Aidan last season and there was three promising, yet very frustrating runs. Despite being sent off a big price on his chasing debut, he looked to have the race in the bag as he powered clear before the last only to come to grief at the final obstacle.

A drop down to hurdles followed after being purchased by JP McManus and despite sketchy jumping as the tempo increased, he battled on well to hold the very useful Haymount at bay. A Grade 2 beckoned next and again, he was running a big race before coming down at the third last.

Of course, jumping is clearly an issue but having spent a summer schooling with Joseph and his team, he is sure to have learned a lot. It looks as though the plan is to return to Novices’ Chases and he could progress into a very useful horse, should his jumping hold up.


BATTLE OF SHILOH (7-y-o gelding – Tom George – Paul and Clare Rooney)

Tom George and Paddy Brennan have enjoyed a superb partnership over the years, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see the pair part ways, as Adrian Heskin arrives from Ireland to become retained rider for George.

They have started well and surprisingly and they look to have plenty of solid horses to go to war with this season, with one of the most interesting, the still unbeaten Battle Of Shiloh.

Having won twice in the P2P sphere, he scored gamely on both hurdles starts last season. He rallied strongly on both occasions and it appears he has tremendous courage to go with his eye-catching ability.

It looked as though his unbeaten run was going to come to an abrupt end after some shoddy jumping on his chasing debut earlier this season and after a mistake at the last seen him a fair few lengths behind Jimmy The Jetplane, it looked as though he was to succumb to defeat.

However after a couple of reminders he picked up smartly and in the end, went past Jimmy The Jetplane to win smartly going away in the shadows of the post.

He is sure to have learned plenty from that run and with many sure to take the run on its bare form, the manner of the win suggests he could be a fair few pounds ahead of the handicapper. He has improvement to come and he is one who could be worth keeping on side as the season progresses.

WESTEND STORY (5-y-o gelding – Phillip Hobbs – Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club)

Phillip Hobbs and Richard Johnson often team up with great success and one of their more likely types this season looks to be the exciting Westend Story.

He made a fairly innocuous start to racing life, falling twice in P2P’s, before a switch to bumpers – and the Phillip Hobbs stable – seemed to work some magic. He made his debut on Boxing Day at Huntingdon, in what looked a decent enough bumper, before being backed into odds-on, winning by a cosy six-lengths.

It was a very pleasing performance for connections and they wouldn’t have to wait too long before tasting success again, as he broke the heart of his rivals on Valentine’s Day (I’m sorry), winning a race at Exeter by 18l.

They didn’t turn out to be the strongest of races, which allowed him to be sent off at 20/1 in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. He travelled nicely into the race before looking set to be outpaced over three furlongs out, as the tempo increased.

He was slightly tapped for toe but he responded well to his rider’s urgings, staying on well without ever having the pace to threaten the leaders. He picked up the pieces to finish fifth and over a longer trip this season, he could be a force to be reckoned with, if schooling at the Hobbs stable has worked.

Of course, that is a slight concern given his P2P efforts but Hobbs is often reliable at readying one for their novice hurdling campaign. He’s currently 33/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it will be interesting to see where he aimed.










MARRACUDJA (5-y-o gelding – Paul Nicholls – Ditcheat Racing Club Marracudja)

It wouldn’t be a five (or ten) to follow over the jumps without a Paul Nicholls runner and this year, that coveted nod goes towards Marracudja. He made a rather disappointing start to live over hurdles, flopping behind the very impressive Peace And Co.

He was put away for the rest of the season and when returning fresh, he won two novices’ hurdles at Wincanton in fine style, suggesting he had plenty of ability. He contested a really competitive race at Kempton on Boxing Day, where he ran a fine race to be third behind subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Altior.

He returned for a Grade 2 at Kempton at the end of February and he battled on well, only just failing to get the better of the well-regarded Winter Escape. He was a no-show in a Grade 1 at Aintree but he showed no ill-effects of that race, as he embarked on a chasing career earlier this month.

It always looked as though he would develop into a chaser and if he progresses from his hurdles form, he will be a force to be a reckoned with in the novice division. He could hardly have been more impressive on debut, defying a drift, jumping boldly out in front before moving readily clear of subsequent winner Ballyboley.

He ticked all the boxes as an impressive novice and given his trainer is already nominating targets at Aintree and Punchestown (likely to skip Cheltenham), it suggests he rates him highly. He could be a very nice horse.

CONSUL DE THAIX (4-y-o gelding – Nicky Henderson – JP McManus)

The final member of the five to follow comes from the Nicky Henderson yard, in Consul De Thaix. The JP McManus-owned gelding ran twice in Britain last season for Henderson and it was evident they rated him highly, as he was thrown in at the deep end with a Grade 2 engagement at Cheltenham.

He travelled with enthusiasm for Barry Geraghty and looked to have every chance coming over the last. He battled bravely but couldn’t find what was required to get past the highly-rated Protek De Flos and Clan Des Obeaux.

Subsequently, he was put away until being aimed at the Triumph Hurdle, for which he was sent off at 33/1. He was kept towards the rear of the field and was outpaced when push came to shove but he stayed on once beaten to run a nice enough race.

Considering it was only his second start under rules in this country, it was a fair effort and it would be no surprise to see him aimed at graded races or maybe a top end handicap later in the season.

He has plenty of scope to improve under the handling of Nicky Henderson and he rates as an exciting prospect that perhaps may slip under the radar.

Enjoy A Sweet Selection In The Cesarewitch

Friday sends us into the weekend in buoyant mood, after Rhododendron scored impressively at HQ. She showed real class and is an exciting prospect to follow, if she heads over to the Breeders’s Cup.

Hopefully her performance will bode well for the weekend, where Sweet Selection is selection in the Cesarewitch. Hughie Morrison’s charge is well and truly on an upward curve this season, rattling up a hat-trick of wins before following up a decent effort at York, with a career-best fifth place in the Doncaster Cup.

She gets in the Cesarewitch off a mark of 87 and that is set to significantly rise in the coming weeks. Champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa is riding well and he is a solid booking. The four-year-old will relish the trip, should have no issues with the ground and looks sure to go close off a generous weight. The current 9/1 is fair value and given most firms are offering five places (six at Sky Bet), then she deserves another look.

Elsewhere on a fantastic day of racing, Churchill looks set to cement his Classic status with a big performance in the Dewhurst. He should take all the beating but from a betting perspective, it may be worth taking a trip to York to sample some more value.

The Rockingham Stakes (3.10 York) looks a fair renewal but Sir Dancealot is a horse who could prove a cut above his rivals. He made a fairly inauspicious start to racing life in a hot Windsor maiden but that run was left well in the past, as he came out next time and hacked up at Kempton, landing a fairly serious gamble in the process.

He followed up in a decent Conditions race at the same track next (subsequent winner Fly At Dawn was back in third) and his final start to date confirmed all promise. It looked a solid Group 3 (though favourite Escobar clearly wasn’t right) and he looked a potential winner a furlong out.

He travelled nicely for Jim Crowley (has ridden him on all four occasions) and battled on well behind Larchmont Lad and Whitecliffsofdover, getting within a length at the line.

The form could prove to be very strong and given he wasn’t overly well placed during the race last time, it would be no surprise him improve on that performance.

The drop back to 6f is a slight concern given he has pulled hard on occasions but he settled well last time and if that is the case on Saturday, he can pounce off a strong pace from a favourable high draw. Shane Kelly is an able deputy to Crowley and the current 4/1 seems a very fair bet in what looks a winnable Listed race.


1pt e/w: Sweet Selection (Cesarewitch) @ 9/1 Various

1.5pts win: Sir Dancealot (15.10 York) @ 4/1 Various




Side With Rhododendron At Newmarket

Racing returns to terrestrial TV this Friday, as the Channel 4 cameras pan to Newmarket and York.

The fillies take centre stage in the Fillies’ Mile, with plenty hoping the leading protagonists can follow last year’s winner Minding in taking a leading role in next year’s Classics.

Godolphin won the race on three consecutive occasions from 2010-2012, so it’s no surprise to see sufficient interest in current market leader Sobetsu. The filly showed plenty of promise when running behind the reappearing Spatial, before going on to a wide-margin victory at HQ.

She could potentially be anything and although there is a fair level of excitement surrounding her, it may be worth taking a chance with Rhododendron. Aidan O’Brien’s filly is already a Group 2 winner, after scoring in battling fashion, edging out her repappearing stablemate, Hydrangea.

O’Brien’s got his string in fine form, as shown by his 1-2-3 in the Arc last weekend, and the fact his filly Found fared best gives an extra, albeit small, boost of confidence ahead of the Fillies’ Mile.

Rhododenron landed a mini-gamble when winning her maiden at Glorious Goodwood and after back-to-back wins, she ran a nice enough race in defeat last time in the Moyglare. This looks a logical step and given her breeding suggests she will relish the step up to a mile, the current 4/1 looks more than fair.

Ryan Moore gets back on board (he is 1/1 on her) and she can announce herself as a possible Classic type and make it three in a row for Aidan O’Brien.

Elsewhere on the card, it is a shame Mark Johnston appears to be in poor form. His runners have struggled to reach the expected heights over the past week and there may well be some small issues plaguing his animals. However, this appears to have been factored into the price of three of his runners on Friday.

He saddles Yalta in the opener and the colt looks extremely interesting. After scoring twice in fine fashion, he disappointed in hot company. He slammed rivals with ease in the Molecomb and given The Last Lion – subsequent Middle Park winner – was back in second, the form looks solid.

Two disappoint efforts have ensued, though one of these was when sent off well-fancied for the Nunthorpe, and he has now acquired something of an all-or-nothing reputation. This may be the case tomorrow, though the 8/1 could prove to be a silly price now back in Group 3 company.

Another pair of Johnston runners are Lumiere and New Caledonia. Lumiere put a poor Guineas display behind her when bolting up over 6f at Newmarket next time out. A flat effort at Deauvile was followed with a nice enough third at Doncaster and if she has her own way of things in front, she could be hard to stop on a going day in the 14.05. The 11/1 is fair, though there has to be slight reservations given MJ’s form.

The same can be applied to New Caledonia, who benefited from the step up to 10f, when winning at Ascot last month. He was a credible third to Southdown Lad on softer than ideal ground last time and could be ahead of his current mark of 95, now returning to a strongly ran 10f on better ground in the 15.45.

He’s been notably strong in the market since the prices opened, which has to be taken as a positive given the MJ factor and he is of interest at a current 9/1. Yalta, Lumiere & New Caledonia could ensure Johnston returns to form in some style, all at nice prices.


2pts win: Rhododendron (Fillies’ Mile) @ 4/1 (Various)




Erik The Red Can Answer Cambridgeshire Conundrum

The Cambridgeshire is often one of the most intriguing betting heats to take place on the Rowley Mile, as a large field spans right across the track.

As always, we’re in for a big price favourite, with last year’s winner Third Time Lucky heading the betting at 8/1. This appears to have been his aim for some time, so he should be readied to perfection but at a bigger price, it is Erik The Red that looks worth a second look.

Kevin Ryan is in fair form himself and after Erik The Red rattled up a quickfire hat-trick around this time last year, it could be argued the Cambridgeshire will have been suggested as a long-term goal.

He has hit the frame in four of his six handicap bows this season, including a fine third at York off this mark last time. He was given plenty to do that day and stayed on well, so now with Paul Mulrennan on board, it would be no surprise to see the rider make more use of him.

He’s drawn high, so should get a nice toe into the race and if he can improve, which isn’t out of the realms of possibility for the 4-y-o gelding, then he should go very close at a rather large 25/1. Sky Bet are currently joint-top price and are paying SIX PLACES, so it looks worth a small investment at this stage.

Elsewhere on Saturday’s Newmarket card, Best Of Days can make up for his close runner-up effort at York by getting his head in front in the Royal Lodge Stakes before Lady Aurelia shows her dazzling speed in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

The Middle Park Stakes looks fairly disappointing without the star turn of Caravaggio, yet Mehmas could be the answer against Blue Point. Richard Hannon JR’s colt got the better of the favourite when the pair met at Goodwood before his stamina was slightly stretched when runner-up to the classy Churchill in Ireland.

Back over his favoured six furlongs, Mehmas, who will be retired to stud at the end of his 2-y-o career, can confirm form with the favourite and he certainly looks value at the prices.


1pt ew – Erik The Red – Cambridgeshire – 25/1 (Sky Bet – 6 places)

1.5pt win – Mehmas – Middle Park – 5/1 (Various)