Top Notch form points to Tonto
Man On The Spot provides a race-by-race guide to Saturday's action on Channel 4 Racing, which comes from Newmarket and Newcastle.
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Doc Hay was due to run here last night and doesn’t look the force of old. Grissom may have also regressed while Tarooq hasn’t won on Turf since 2010. MISSISSIPPI went close on a couple of occasions at Doncaster last summer on similar going. He made a promising reappearance on Town Moor earlier this month and may be too good for Clear Spring. The top weight landed a bit of a gamble at Windsor last time but is now on a career-high mark. The consistent Jack Luey was fourth over this trip at Doncaster in September but most of his recent runs have been over 5f and Muthmir lacks a recent outing.
Last year's winner Fig Roll had ran well in the Queen Mary earlier and LITTLEMISSBLAKENEY was not beaten far in the same race at Ascot last time. That looks the best form on offer and Hugo Palmer's filly gets the nod. She has the beating of Bonnie Grey and Cajoling on collateral form but there's a host of maiden winners likely to improve. They include Parsley, representing last year's winning yard, while Tigrilla won nicely at Haydock and Zeb Un Nisa was an easy winner at Bath. Accipiter makes most appeal of the remainder on her debut victory at Kempton.
York fourth Mass Rally was only beaten a head in this last year but the ground will probably be a lot quicker today. Body And Soul could only finish fourth when well backed for a valuable handicap at Musselburgh last time while Hitchens may be starting to feel his age and this is a step up in grade for impressive Chester winner Sir Maximilian, though that victory is working out well. Danzeno was another to start favourite for a hot handicap last time but he stopped quickly once headed so also has a bit to prove. Only one three-year-old has won this since 2006 but SAAYERR must go close if running up to the form which saw him finish only a length-and-a-quarter behind Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up Shifting Power at Newmarket in April.
Gatewood is penalised for his Listed win at Goodwood but will find the forecast ground fast enough. Battalion is another who would prefer some cut as when beating Chancery and Rawaki at Ripon in April while Sheikhzayedroad has arguably the best piece of recent form with a second in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown. But the suspicion remains the latter is best over 1m2f and a chance is taken on CAMERON HIGHLAND. A Listed winner at Windsor, he only faded inside the final furlong in last year's renewal and should go very close on his reappearance. Energia Eros has the past form to figure but has shown little since joining Marco Botti.
This looks wide-open though this year’s evidence suggests Smarty Socks is not the force of old. Victoire De Lyphar’s winning run came to an end at Newmarket last time and he may be back in the handicapper’s grip while Almargo has gone off the boil but it would be no surprise to see My Freedom run well after a break given he won over 1m at this meeting last year. FOXTROT ROMEO may have been a shade unlucky when second to Alejandro at York earlier this month. He’s 3lb higher here but is still fancied to go one better, though Farlow is running really well this year and looks a danger on his latest fifth at Epsom. Goodwood scorer Clockmaker and Cosmic Chatter make most appeal of the remainder as Apostle is hard to predict and Prince’s Trust has a long absence to overcome.
Penitent beat a few of these including Eton Forever when landing a Listed race at Haydock last month. But he'd prefer softer ground and Garswood, sporting first-time blinkers, and Tawhid may turn the tables with David O'Meara's charge. Gabriel's Lad won the Victoria Cup at Ascot in good style and a similar effort would see him go close while Gregorian has leading claims on last year's win in the Hungerford at Newbury when Tawhid finished behind. The Hannon team bids for a fourth consecutive win with Indignant but she has a bit to find on today's terms and TOP NOTCH TONTO gets the vote. The latter has been competing over longer trips since beating Caspar Netscher in a Listed race at Redcar in October and should make a bold bid with a similar effort.
Winner Suegioo, second Angel Gabrial and fifth Glenard renew Chester Cup rivalry with Marco Botti’s five-year-old bidding to do the double achieved by Ile De Re in 2012. But there shouldn’t be much to choose between the first two on the revised terms and in-form Van Percy also enters calculations, though he’ll have to break smartly to get a good position at the first bend from stall 22. Tony Martin trained the winner in 2008 and sends over Dark Crusader while Willie Mullins runs Cork second Lucky Bridle. Sir Ector completes the Irish challenge but he has plenty of weight. Noble Silk beat NEARLY CAUGHT at Haydock last month but the runner-up left his effort too late and is better off at the weights here. Hughie Morrison’s stayer has been tried in group races so is clearly well regarded and could be good enough to land this off his current mark. Oriental Fox was sixth in the Ascot Gold Cup but this may come too soon and it’s asking a lot of the prolific Big Thunder to win a race like this on his reappearance.
MANDERLEY beat a subsequent winner as she liked when landing the odds in a Nottingham maiden but is better judged on her earlier fourth in the 1000 Guineas here. A repeat of that form would make her hard to beat and she gets the nod. Evita Peron ran well in the German 1000 Guineas and looks a threat but the likes of Along Again, Wedding Ring and Dutch Courage need to step up on their recent efforts to figure. Maiden winner Swift Campaign is the least exposed and it would be no surprise to see her improve past Musicora, Penny Drops and Alumina.