Sir Dancealot is among Simon Holt's best bets for Saturday - check out his full preview of the action from Haydock, Beverley and Newmarket.
SIR DANCEALOT, a good friend to this column last season, looks all set to renew winning ways in the Group Three Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
David Elsworth's gelding, a particularly striking individual, proved himself well up to this level when gaining Group Two successes in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood (would have been an unlucky loser) and the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury (Breton Rock third). A later fifth behind One Master in the Group One Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in October would also give him outstanding claims here.
And Sir Dancealot should be spot on now after reappearing in the Lockinge Stakes over a mile at Newbury last month when, having made good headway two furlongs out, he ran out of steam in the final 120 yards.
Seven furlongs is very much the ideal trip for Gerald Mosse's mount and the only slight negative concerning his chances is if conditions became very testing even though he was far from disgraced behind Sands Of Mali on ground described as soft on Champions Day at Ascot last October.
Earlier at Haydock, the Willie Mullins-trained mare True Self is likely to start a short-priced favourite for the Group Three Betway Pinnacle Stakes.
Despite being jumps bred (by Oscar), she has proved to be a much better performer on the Flat and was an easy winner of a listed race at Newmarket last November in soft ground.
However, she was getting 9lb from the ageing runner-up Air Pilot that day and may face a stiffer task here off level weights against William Haggas' genuine filly KLASSIQUE.
Beautifully bred by Galileo out of the high class Chachamaidee, Danny Tudhope's mount rattled up a hat-trick of wins last season before being beaten by the useful French stayer Bartaba in a Group Three at Saint-Cloud on her final start.
Klassique began the new season well when chasing home the imposing Enbihaar (the pair over four lengths clear) at Goodwood and the winner has since gone down by a half length to the Haggas-trained Dramatic Queen in a Group Three at York. She is clearly the main danger to the favourite and could prove value to beat her.
At Beverley, ELERFAAN can prove the one to beat in the opening Dadie Oughtred Memorial Handicap.
A course and distance winner last season, I was impressed with the way this lightly-raced five-year-old travelled before being collared by last week's runaway Epsom winner Gossiping at Chester last month.
In hindsight, Elerfaan may have hit the front a bit soon that day but he has gone up only 3lb since and trainer Rebecca Bastiman's runners have been going well in recent days.
Finally, WHAT A WELCOME, the horse who won eight of his nine races between November '17 and October of last year (going up 37lb in the ratings), is fancied to take the Bernard Sunley Memorial Handicap at Newmarket after a battling second at Goodwood a fortnight ago when going down by a nose to the progressive King's Advice with the re-opposing Amazing Red third.
I think this big field, and the prospect of a solid pace, will suit What A Welcome ideally and, a winner over two miles at Ascot last October, this great trier is bound to finish his race off strongly again.