Our man looks ahead to Saturday's competitive racing and has a trio of selections to consider across the cards at Goodwood, Haydock and York.
1pt win River Pride in 1.45 Goodwood at 15/2 (William Hill, bet365)
1pt win Miranda in 2.00 Haydock at 9/1 (BoyleSports)
1pt win Sunday Sovereign in 2.55 York at 14/1 (General)
With the number of races on ITV into double digits this Saturday punters would be wise to pick their battles and I can comfortably leave the pattern races from Haydock, Goodwood and York well alone from a betting perspective.
I’ll clearly be keen to see how early Commonwealth Cup suggestion Wings Of War goes in first-time cheekpieces in the Cazoo Sandy Lane Stakes, but Adam Kirby hopping onto stablemate Caturra isn't exactly a ringing endorsement after his low-key Ascot comeback, so I can resist the juicy prices of 14/1 being dangled about last autumn’s Mill Reef winner this weekend.
The Cazoo Silver Bowl Handicap typically throws up a great puzzle but this year’s race – which has only attracted 10 at final declarations – revolves around St James’s Palace Stakes entry Mighty Ulysses, just 7/4 with the odd firm but shorter elsewhere.
He was very impressive at Newmarket and it's no surprise connections have opted for the handicap route with a mark of 101, especially as they can take 5lb off by using the rapidly-developing Benoit De La Sayette.
The problem with the race is that the right horses look to be in behind him in the betting, Mister Wilson no doubt a fascinating runner for Gavin Cromwell after his second behind subsequent Group Three winner Markaz Paname first time out for the yard at Naas in March.
Successfully giving him well over a stone (Aidan Keeley takes 7lb off Mister Wilson) will surely mark Mighty Ulysses as a very smart Group animal in the making.
The unbeaten Whoputfiftyinyou is another respected rival as he tries a mile for the first time (his dam is a half-sister to Guineas winner Cachet), but complete outsider Ring Of Beara is possibly the one to watch with the a view to the future - next month’s Britannia Stakes could well be on the radar as he looks the type who will relish being buried away in a huge field.
Richard Hughes’ horse doesn’t get that here but hopefully he can show a bit more spark than when never really sighted in his Esher Cup comeback run at Sandown.
The best bet at Haydock may be MIRANDA as the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old comes up against Charlie Appleby’s progressive Bandinelli in the Cazoo Hell Nook Handicap.
Bandinelli no doubt still has a bit in hand after edging up just 3lb for his comeback win in the Queen’s Prize at Kempton, but he takes a lot of stoking up and quite whether Haydock will play to his strengths remains to be seen.
Miranda is a really useful operator on her day and has produced some of her best form around the flatter, sharp tracks of Ludlow, Kempton and Musselburgh. She’s yet to appear at Haydock – on the Flat or over jumps – and she’s arguably more effective going right-handed, particularly when hurdling, but it’s not too hard to envisage her taking to this place well, and Megan Nicholls should be able to pick up a good early position from stall three. Just settling behind likely leader Golden Flame would do nicely.
Miranda's last run on the level was a solid second when trying to give lumps of weight to Land Of Winter at Nottingham in October 2020. The winner, rated 75 at the time, is now up to 90 following two more handicap successes, whereas Miranda comes here off exactly the same mark despite showing improvement over timber through the winter.
She’s well worth her current NH rating of 145 so there should be more fun to be had with her back in this code, and she’s going to love a little bit of juice in the ground as looks likely in the north west this weekend.
The going could be slightly better at Goodwood if the forecast is to be believed and that should play to the strengths of RIVER PRIDE.
The daughter of Oasis Dream lines up in the William Hill Harroways Handicap – a race her trainer Richard Hannon has won with Oh This Is Us and Beat Le Bon in recent seasons – just seven days on from her cracking effort when second at Newmarket.
Dropping back to six furlongs ultimately just about did for her at HQ but there was no disgrace in chasing home the improving Harry Three that day and she’s no doubt going to enjoy a return to seven furlongs, the trip over which she won at Chelmsford in November and Salisbury on her seasonal return right at the start of May.
She’s gone up a couple of pounds for being beaten which is never ideal, but still looks to be on the right side of the handicapper, while her good gate speed and prominent run-style should be a key asset around here.
Grappling with York sprints all summer isn’t for everyone but if the price is right I’m perfectly happy to roll the dice to small stakes and SUNDAY SOVEREIGN looks a bet at 12/1 or bigger in the William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap.
First thing to note is that there is loads of pace on here and the selection should, in theory, get the ideal tow into things from stall 13 as he’s directly between Atalis Bay and Zargun, who look as likely as anything else to lead through the early stages.
Copper Knight is only three stalls away too so more towards the stands’ side might be where the action unfolds, and Sunday Sovereign is definitely capable of landing a race of this nature.
He's only won the once since joining Tim Easterby but has run several good races in defeat too, including when runner-up to Pendleton in this event 12 months ago.
He’s rated 1lb below that mark now after being dropped 4lb for his two efforts so far this season and, from what is a career-low handicap mark of 94, his time to return to the winner’s enclosure is fast approaching.
The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas looks a bit of a foregone conclusion with Native Trail a shade unlucky for some onlookers when runner-up to Coroebus at Newmarket last month.
Last year's champion juvenile looks every inch a three-year-old and has already proven himself on the Curragh course too, but the race for second is relatively interesting.
Sky Bet go 9/2 about Ivy League in their market 'without the favourite' which might interest some. It's 22 years since Aidan O'Brien was last single-handed in the Irish Guineas and his then-representative, Giant's Causeway, finished second to Bachir in the Godolphin silks.
Perhaps we'll see a little bit of history repeating this weekend, but this son of Galileo is obviously going to need to improve a fair amount in the first-time tongue-tie if he's to get the better of stylish Tetrarch winner Buckaroo.
Published at 1530 BST on 20/05/22
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