Our man nailed another well-backed winner at Sandown on Thursday and he's got a handful of selections to consider this weekend.
1pt win Bodorgan in 2.25 Haydock at 14/1 (General)
0.5pts win Burning Cash in 2.40 York at 20/1 (General)
0.5pts win Sound Of Iona in 2.40 York at 25/1 (General)
1pt e.w. Mitbaahy in 3.30 Haydock at 12/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4)
1pt win Cairo in 3.40 Curragh at 14/1 (William Hill, BetVictor)
The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas takes top billing on ITV4’s Saturday schedule and, as is often the case in the Curragh Classic, punters are essentially asked whether they fully trust the Newmarket form from earlier in the month.
The first thing to note is that there’s evidently a bit of caution being taken with 125/1 HQ runner-up Hi Royal, who is only third in the market here, with Newmarket third Royal Scotsman seemingly fancied to reverse the placings.
That’s perfectly understandable given not only Royal Scotsman’s far more robust overall body of work which includes a head second to QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Chaldean in the Dewhurst, but also due to how things unfolded on the Rowley Mile.
Hi Royal, who was prominent throughout under Oisin Murphy, did wander about a bit on entering the dip but he’d essentially got first run on Royal Scotsman (in that particular Royal match race), the latter having raced exuberantly towards the rear early on and ultimately doing extremely well to finish where he did in the circumstances.
If Royal Scotsman settles better for Jamie Spencer then he should really be in business with a trouble-free passage, but that’s a rather significant caveat and I wouldn’t be wild about looking to recoup Newmarket losses on the Cole runner this weekend.
It’s not like there aren’t value alternatives either and the one who stands out is Aidan O’Brien’s CAIRO.
Granted, the market and the jockey bookings strongly suggest he’s not the stable’s number one hope – the Ryan Moore-ridden Paddington much shorter at the time of writing – but Wayne Lordan has picked up a few spare Classic winners over the years and the well-bred Cairo has plenty going for him otherwise.
Firstly, he won his maiden over this course and distance in August, while his pedigree suggests he’s going to absolutely love the prevailing ground having completely blown out when sent off favourite for the UAE Derby on his dirt debut at Meydan when last seen in March.
That fairly miserable international jaunt came on the back of an encouraging comeback win under a penalty in a Listed race at Dundalk earlier in the spring, but it’s the form of his Group 3 Killavullan Stakes from last autumn that stands out as he readily accounted for stablemate Sierra Blanca, who went on to win a Naas maiden from recent Derby Trial Stakes winner Sprewell.
Cairo obviously still has a gap to bridge with the top three or four in this field but he possesses plenty of untapped potential on quick ground over a mile and I’d much rather back this prominent racer from stall four at 14/1 (or bigger) than put my faith in Spencer weaving his way through from the back on the keen-going market leader.
Thankfully we’re set fair weather wise at Haydock too, safe in the knowledge the going will be on the quick side of good, which obviously hasn’t always been the case for Betfred Temple Stakes day.
There's likely going to be a strong pace on too, thanks to Live In The Dream and The Platinum Queen among others, so there shouldn’t be many excuses.
The Platinum Queen, now with Roger Varian having ended her eight-race juvenile campaign on a low note at the Breeders’ Cup, has to be a bit of a dicey favourite given we’re totally in the dark as to whether or not she's trained on, and the same can also be said of Karl Burke’s Dramatised.
She filled the runner-up spot in the Juvenile Turf Sprint out in Keeneland, having looked to be stretched by six furlongs in the Lowther on her previous start, and she’s a big threat to all here with William Buick doing 8-9.
Live In The Dream is another seriously fast horse who will like the underfoot conditions. He’s fit, firing and still open to further progress but if you like Adam West’s horse then Varian second-string MITBAAHY has to come into the reckoning too.
Beaten in a couple of Listed race at two, he showed genuine flashes of brilliance last season, including when sprinting past Live In The Dream in the Scurry Stakes at Sandown in June.
He was very close to that level of form when an unlucky second in the Coral Charge back there the following month but, after struggling at Goodwood, put in a peak performance when again coming from the rear to win a Group 3 at Newbury in September.
A high draw and bottomless ground can account for the final run of the season in the Abbaye at Longchamp and I’m dead keen to see what he can do as a fully-furnished four-year-old this time around.
He actually comes out top-rated on Timeform's adjusted figures here so the double-figure odds look a little out of line, providing he's ready to rock first time up (narrowly beaten on seasonal return last spring).
I’ll take my chances each-way with the Varian team just coming back into form now and the extra places on offer in this contest.
The Betfred Nifty Fifty Sandy Lane Stakes is the other Group 2 feature on the card but it looks very tricky given Little Big Bear is so far clear in pure form terms and yet arrives on the back of a soft-ground blob in the 2000 Guineas.
It might seem tenuous but you can just about guarantee the odd shrewdie will have the Derby market in full focus during the Sandy Lane as if this horse hits straight back following his limp Newmarket run then Auguste Rodin is almost inevitably going to tighten up again in the antepost lists for Epsom.
Perhaps Little Big Bear will be a much happier horse back sprinting in more suitable ground conditions, but I won’t be banking on it – nor am I in a mad rush to take him on.
The best bet might just be the lowest-rated horse in the field, Mill Stream, who pushed Noble Style quite close on the July Course before not seeing out the trip in the Acomb at York.
He wasn’t disgraced that day, travelling ominously well for the most part, and the form looks even better in light of Chaldean’s Guineas win. Mill Stream’s trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam has been going well lately too but I just can’t quite pull the trigger with the one horse in the field who has yet to have an outing this year.
The Betfred Silver Bowl Handicap is a better betting medium anyway, for all that John and Thady Gosden’s Covey will be extremely popular despite running off what looks a stiff enough introductory mark (90) considering the poor horses he’s beaten at Newmarket and Newcastle.
This is the strongest race he’s contested by some way and he’s not the only lightly-raced improver who could have next month’s Britannia on their radar. Royal Cape dotted up in bad ground at Windsor and looks to be really going through the gears as he gains more experience, though he does look like he’ll stay 10 furlongs and beyond so could just be found out for a change of gear around here.
A drop in class and trip might see Stormbuster in a better light and I certainly wouldn’t be giving up on him just yet, but BODORGAN is the one to be on.
He split Arabian Storm (now rated 96) and Military Order (111, Derby favourite) when third to Enfjaar (who won again on Thursday night) in a Newmarket maiden on his second start in October and didn’t have to improve on that to justify short odds in a novice back on the Rowley Mile later in the same month (replay below).
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That last piece of form isn’t out of the ordinary but the second and fourth have won minor races since and Bodorgan just looks well handicapped with a mark of 87.
He shapes like he’ll appreciate the step up to a mile this year and while lively conditions are a bit of an unknown given his smart form came in the autumn and he’d been well held on good going on his September debut, it’s far too early to be pigeon-holing him in that regard.
Hills continues in great form and he recorded a 32% strike-rate (6-19) at this track last season; in terms of three-year-old handicaps only, he’s 4-13 here over the last five years.
Nothing leaps out as being over-priced in the first two races at Haydock, nor the televised action from Goodwood, but there are a couple who appeal at big prices in York’s William Hill Epic Boost Handicap.
The first is SOUND OF IONA, who is eligible for 0-80 handicaps these days so it looks significant she’s running for this 0-105 prize.
The local stewards had a close look at her most recent run when fifth under hands-and-heels riding at Musselburgh, noting Paul Mulrennan’s explanation that he was continually denied a clear run on the mate, but there’s no denying she showed a lot more of her old spark that day and is on the right side of the assessor again if able to build on the performance.
She had a cracking time of things through last year, rising from a mark of 63 to 84, which featured a creditable second to Noble Dynasty off that peak rating at Newmarket. She’s back down to 80 now following outings over a mile and then six furlongs earlier this year, and she still looks pretty effective at the minimum trip when things drop right for her.
The other one who looks too big in the betting is BURNING CASH for trainer Paul Midgley.
He’s another who had a successful time last summer, winning two on the bounce at Doncaster before the wheels came off lightly when raised to Listed level at Beverley.
He’s also had a couple of spins on unsuitably easy ground earlier this spring and his rating has dropped as a consequence.
Now 3lb lower than for the most recent success on Town Moor, when beating recent Dante meeting scorer Regional, there’s every chance he’ll be popping up again soon and getting back on proper summer ground is definitely going to play more to his strengths. He's drawn on the wing here but I will take my chances he's on the right side with the stalls in the centre of the Knavesmire this weekend.
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Published at 1500 BST on 26/05/23
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