Times to make the headlines
Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial TV action from Ayr and Newbury.
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Only a head separated Quiz Mistress and Noble Mission when they filled the places in last year's renewal. The former ended last season with a below par effort behind Cubanita in the St Simon Stakes over track and trip and the latter is penalised 3lb for that success. Astonishing won a Listed race at Newmarket so convincingly that she was raised 17lb and has something to prove now, while Khione also scored in Listed company at Goodwood in May, but that was her only start of 2013. Pether's Moon continues to improve but MUTASHADED is preferred. Rated only 88 heading into the Group 2 King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, he finished an impressive third to Hillstar and looks an exciting prospect for Roger Varian's yard this season.
VALDEZ has to concede weight all round but looks in a different league to the majority of his rivals. He rattled up a hat-trick in decent company before running well in the Arkle at Cheltenham when only beaten seven lengths by the winner. Eduard is probably the danger if Alan King’s charge decides he’s had enough for the season. He had little more than an exercise canter over course and distance last month and deserves a crack at this higher level. Miley Shah is improving with experience but his latest run was over a longer trip and he could get outpaced back over 2m. The other runners both have a bit to prove against younger rivals on these terms.
AL THAKHIRA flopped in the Juvenile Fillies at the Breeders' Cup in November but had won the Rockfel in good style over 7f at Newmarket before that. A big run here should see her take up an engagement in the 1000 Guineas. Joyeuse is also aiming for next month's fillies Classic at Newmarket and this longer trip should suit after a three length defeat in the Cheveley Park in September. J Wonder failed to cope with Lucky Kristale in the Lowther at York while Beldale Memory didn't handle the fast ground in the Queen Mary at Ascot when last seen at the track. Coral Mist won a Group 3 at Ayr and is preferred to stablemate Dutch Romance and the Newmarket handicap winner Dutch Courage, although a line through Valonia gives her a bit to find with the selection.
MY TENT OR YOURS will be the star attraction in this. The Champion Hurdle second will be a short-priced favourite as all but two of his rivals will have to carry more than their allotted weight but he need only reproduce his best form of this season, which has included a couple of Grade 1 victories, to get back to winning ways. Court Minstrel defied a big weight at Aintree a week ago and should give another good account while Flaxen Flare has a decent record in valuable handicaps. On their form with the selection in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle in November, both Cockney Sparrow and Cotton Mill could have claims while Clever Cookie won a Grade 2 at Kelso last month. Montbazon’s run in the County Hurdle has already been franked and he’s another possibility but the remainder are likely to struggle.
A highly competitive renewal. Kingman has been touted for the 2000 Guineas since winning the Solario Stakes in good style and he looks sure to figure. Berkshire won the Chesham at Ascot before adding the Group 2 Royal Lodge over a mile at Newmarket to his tally. He makes more appeal than Astaire, who won both the Gimcrack and Middle Park last year and is potentially a top-class sprinter if longer distances prove beyond him. The latter beat previous Mill Reef winner Supplicant at Headquarters in the Middle Park. The Hannon yard has won this in recent years with an impressive list of subsequent Group 1 winners. Paco Boy and Dick Turpin preceded last year's winner Olympic Glory and NIGHT OF THUNDER attempts to follow in their footsteps. He signed off last season with an easy victory in Listed company at Doncaster and gets the vote. The others have some catching up to do though Golden Town, Lat Hawill and Windfast all have plenty of scope.
After a fair run at Cheltenham, Manyriverstocross managed to hold on at Ascot despite racing with the throttle out. He’s clearly useful but has another 6lb to carry here. Desert Cry was well out of his depth in the Game Spirit at Newbury last time but doesn’t look an easy ride and is giving weight to less-exposed chasers in this. Upsilon Bleu is proving difficult to place while His Excellency never seems to run two races alike, though has ability. Le Bacardy and Back To Balloo were due to run in a novices’ handicap here yesterday so this can go to VALCO DE TOUZAINE. He also had an entry in the novices’ chase on today’s card but Paul Nicholls obviously believes the five-year-old has a better chance in this and he’s certain to be suited by the better ground.
Ocean Tempest returned from Dubai to win the Lincoln a fortnight ago with Sweet Lightning, also just back from Meydan, finishing fourth. Spa's Dancer and Gabrial's Kaka were further behind but the latter will have come on for the outing and may reverse running. Brownsea Brink went close to catching Purcell last month and the latter has since won again. The Hannon colt beat Enobled four lengths at Sandown last season. So Beloved, Tinghir and Dubawi Sound all have the past form to figure while Moonday Sun and Brocklebank have been in good form on the all-weather of late. FOXTROT ROMEO was rated 114 when beaten only four lengths in the St James's Palace Stakes in 2012. Unsuccessful when trained in Ireland last term, Marco Botti now has the task of rejuvenating him and with Frankie doing the steering, he could well run a big race off his current mark.
Tidal Bay’s inclusion in this has made the task of the majority of this field that much harder as only 10 of the top weight’s rivals will be racing off their allotted mark, though plenty of winners have come from out of the handicap in the past. Paul Nicholls’ veteran stayer was hampered and unseated his rider at the Canal Turn in last week’s Grand National but at least had a spin, which is more than you can say about the recalcitrant Battle Group. RSA Chase fifth Sam Winner also represents Ditcheat while fellow novice Green Flag ran well for fourth in a Grade 3 handicap at The Festival. TRUSTAN TIMES is still unexposed over fences and ran a cracker in the Pertemps Final over hurdles at Cheltenham when just a neck behind Grand National hero Pineau de Re, to whom he was conceding 4lb. As long as his inexperience doesn’t let him down, Tim Easterby’s charge is a very interesting contender in this as he’s potentially well treated on his form over the smaller obstacles. Lackamon can reverse recent form over hurdles at Kelso with Lie Forrit and has each-way claims while Rigadin De Beauchene, Yes Tom and Roalco De Farges arrive off the back of recent wins but last year’s winner Godsmejudge has been well below par this season and Edmund Kean disappointed last time. Mendip Express bypassed Cheltenham and Aintree to run here but could find things happening too quickly around him. Alpha Victor was second in the Midlands National last month but that may have taken its toll.