Withhold will take all the beating on his return to action at Newbury, according to our intrepid gallops reporter who rounds up all the weekend fancies.
Stagehand (2.55 Ripon)
Stagehand is better than his bare form suggests and looks the best play of the day in the Sky Bet Go Racing In Yorkshire Handicap at Ripon. The Charlie Hills team have very high hopes for this unexposed three-year-old, who was strongly fancied to break his duck on his trip here 12 days ago, and duly delivered an emphatic win over market leader Morning Duel in a maiden over a mile. Rated 78 for this first venture into a handicap, he looks very handily weighted, and looks open to any amount of improvement.
Pondus (1.50 Newbury)
Pondus should appreciate the step back in trip and land his first Listed win in the bet365 Steventon Stakes at Newbury. With just two relatively low-key wins over 10 furlongs in a four-race career, Pondus showed his lack of experience when, after seeing too much daylight early on, he pulled too hard when fancied in the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on his latest start. Still going well enough on the turn for home, his exertions in the first half mile then took a toll and he faded to finish a well-beaten sixth to Japan. The return to a mile and a quarter should give Oisin Murphy a better chance of keeping a grip on this potentially smart three-year-old and, if successful, he should be able to produce the speed to trouble his five rivals here.
Withhold (2.25 Newbury)
Withhold can land his third valuable handicap for Roger Charlton in the Marsh Cup. Victories in the Cesarewitch and Northumberland Plate have shown just what an effective, smart stayer the six-year-old is, but the Beckhampton trainer has also endured his fair share of frustrations along the way, the latest being an operation to improve his breathing. Although he has not seen action since producing a creditable effort in the Geelong Cup in Australia last October, showed with his win at Newcastle that he can be very effective off a lengthy break, and he should want plenty of beating in what looks a cracking race.
Donjuan Triumphant (3.00 Newbury)
Andrew Balding’s Donjuan Triumphant will enjoy the likely ease in the ground at his home course and he looks solid each-way material in the Group 3 bet365 Hackwood Stakes. The six-year-old is a proven Group 1 performer when he is able to get his toe in.
George William (5.20 Newbury)
George William, a good second in the 2017 Victoria Cup off a mark 2lb higher than he carries here, can notch his first success for Ed Walker in the Grundon Recycling Handicap. There was plenty to like about his debut effort for the Kingsdown trainer behind Land Of Legends at Newmarket 23 days ago, and if that rejuvenated performance can be repeated, he should take plenty of beating.
Came From The Dark (7.45 Doncaster)
Came From The Dark can complete a double for Walker in the Specialist Aviation Services Handicap at Doncaster. The son of Dark Angel is in very good form after a win and neck second on his last two starts at Haydock and Thirsk and he gives an indication that he will be even more effective over this extra two furlongs.
Glorious Rio (7.15 Doncaster)
Glorious Rio, a son of Prix Robert Papin winner Gutaifan out of a (Papin runner-up) Captain Rio dam, is bred to do well as a two-year-old, and he should go well at a decent price for the Hills team in the Keeping Hope Alive Novice Stakes.
St Gallen (2.10 Market Rasen)
Market Rasen stage the biggest meeting of high summer this weekend, and lightly-weighted St Gallen can make it three out of three for the season in the valuable Summer Handicap Hurdle. Only Murphy’s gelding comfortably saw off subsequent dual winner Henrietta Bell over this course and distance here in May before winning well at Kelso, and has been targeted at this race.
Casablanca Mix (3.20 Market Rasen)
Nicky Henderson has two sound chances in the big handicap chase, the Betway Summer Plate. Both Pacific de Baune and Casablanca Mix have won this season, but the latter looks to be best in at the weights, with the form of her success at Aintree back in May looking very strong.