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.

Selection:

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