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13:45 Ascot A typically very competitive handicap here over a mile and a half at Ascot to kick off the live action on ITV. Screaming Petrus immediately catches the eye making his turf and handicap debut here. The son of Kingman has easier options given his opening handicap mark so it’s very interesting that they have opted for this kind of race. On bare form it doesn’t appear that he is well handicapped although there is obvious scope for improvement but he is passed over today. Flyin Solo has been quite well supported for this event in recent days and he does have a pleasing profile having risen through the handicap ranks. There is just a slight suggestion now though that the handicapper does have a grip on his abilities and his odds have began to look quite skinny in a race with so many chances. The very versatile HMS President has a very low strike rate but has run well off higher marks than the one he will compete off today so he holds a good each way chance here today, Georgia Dobie claims a very useful 3lb and he’s also ran well in his previous two visits to Ascot which is a definite plus - his comeback run wasn’t devoid of promise either. Just Hubert is the only course winner in the race having won over two miles here last year. He hasn’t run over this sort of distance for nearly three years and the drop in trip is very interesting for him. It wouldn’t be the most obvious move as he stays so well and he may just find himself getting a bit outpaced in this race today. My selection in this race is going to be Ziggy. He’s still fairly unexposed, he will act on the ground and it seems like this sort of trip should be ideal for him. He’s currently very tempting at double figure odds and he would be my selection each way with a saver on HMS President as well. ZIGGY (E/W) HMS PRESIDENT (E/W)

written by Tom Bates

14:05 Lingfield

Marlay Park is back down to a mark that he’s won off before and seems to perform at his best over this distance. However, he’s been below par in his last three races and is yet to win at Lingfield. Moreover, connections aren’t in fantastic form. He seems opposable today.

Verreaux Eagle is the representative for the inform Ed Dunlop and William Buick. He’s down to his last winning mark and was unlucky not to win at Brighton, last time out. Although he does have some points of interest, he hasn’t got a brilliant record at Lingfield. Nevertheless, he does stand a chance and Buick is an eye catching booking.

William Knight has a decent record at Lingfield and as does Ajrad, who has placed here many times, most recently over course and distance. He was unlucky not to win that day and he has a lot in hand with regards to his speed figures. Additionally, he receives a large amount of weight from his rivals. He has quite a few differentiators that put him in with a good chance of winning today


written by Kieran McHugh

14:20 Ascot

Al Aasy would be a confident selection if in song. However, he has disappointed on a couple of occasions now, and it will depend on which version of Al Aasy turns up.

Stowell is still a work in progress. He’s threatening to put it all together and put in a complete performance. Whether that will be today is in question, but he’s a late maturing type and could improve throughout the season.

Despite being eight pounds’wrong’ it could be worth taking a chance on Third Realm. He beat subsequent Derby winner Adayar at Lingfield and performed with credit after finishing fifth in the Derby. There’s surely more to come from this horse, especially with another year on his back.


written by Matt Polley

14:40 Lingfield

There may only be the five runners but a case could easily be made for the majority of the runners with the powerhouse of Godolphin and Ballydoyle going head to head as owners of the most likely victors.

Although a tad unfair it’s easy to discount Martyn Meade’s Zechariah who was ultra disappointing on his seasonal reappearance and it’s also unlikely Lionel is going to lose his maiden tag although he looks the best of the two outsiders.

That leaves the three main protagonists of which the Irish raider United Nations looks an interesting type. A winner on his debut he went on to finish 7th in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket in his final two year old appearance. He then returned in a listed race at Epsom where he had strong finish to claim 4th in the closing stages. He seems to have been outpaced in his last two runs so a step up in trip should be of benefit and I also think this smaller field should play to his strengths. It’d be foolish to discount any horse that’s partnered by Ryan Moore at the moment but he seems to be lacking the class to compete at the best level and he may be found wanting in this.

So that leaves us with two runners from the same yard who’ll both be representing the boys in blue, A.K.A. Godolphin.

Natural World won his debut at Newbury and fellow rival Lionel finished two spots back in third. Likely to put forward another solid performance and it’s unlikely that we see the Newbury placings reversed. With just the one run under his belt he’s sure to improve further and as such looks a massive contender however his stablemate Walk Of Stars looks the yards number one choice based on jockey bookings. William Buick climbs aboard the current favourite who has experience on his side and has shown enough in his three starts so far to suggest he can take a race of this nature.


written by Rory Paddock

15:05 Haydock

Probably the main race of the day in terms of prize money sees 17 runners in this handicap hurdle race on the mixed flat & jumps card at Haydock.

Dan Skelton horse West Cork is the bookies favourite and will have to carry pretty much top weight to succeed here. Was a runner up at Ayr last time out and I do worry about the weight for West Cork and surprised to see him out again for this. Considering he has run 4 times this season after nearly 2 years of the track it may catch up with him. May of thought he would have a bit of a summer break.

Anna Bunina who beat West Cork last time out is back out again facing her rival. The Irish raider has been raised in the weights for her win last time out. However, trainer John McConnell goes to jockey Mark McDonagh who takes 5 pounds of Anna Bunina to ease some of the burden.

Milkwood hasn't been seen much since his winning the Scottish Champion Hurdle just over a year ago. When he has hasn't shown much to suggest he will win today. Will prefer the faster ground though if it stays dry. Trainers local to the track Herbiers is an attractive each way price and will be some interest to the locals.

Sebastopol has had a productive spring winning a few races and running in other races with credit the more the ground dry's up will suit him more and is another at a double figure each way price who could go well. Is certainly a ground dependant horse.

My selection who is a double figure price (At the time of writing) and possibly slightly overlooked is Cormier. Cormier won really well at Kelso and Cheltenham before that. Winning at Kelso offered him a chance to win a bonus if he won at the Cheltenham Festival which trainer Brian Ellison probably felt he had to. Problem is although he finished 7th in the county hurdle which wasn't too bad when you look what was ahead of him that day. It didn't give Cormier much of a break and perhaps came a bit too soon.

Cormier hasn't been seen since Cheltenham so the break may have done him good and perhaps is fresher compared to other horses in this race. Cormier seems versatile ground wise and in terms of weight wont have the biggest weight to carry compared to some of his other rivals who are near the top of the market.

I'm sure there are bookies paying 4 or 5 places in this race. so if you can find some value in places Cormier maybe worth a back each way at a double figure price


written by Luke Tucker

15:15 Lingfield

The ladies take to the stage in this Oaks trial and based on the form of both Ballydoyle and Ryan Moore at Chester this week it’s hard to look anywhere else but their favourite Emily Dickinson. A winner at Naas last time she shook off her maiden tag at the third time of asking. She won that race with relative ease and gave the impression she’ll relish this step up in trip. Of course this looks a far more competitive race but it doesn’t look the strongest trial and aside from the unbeaten Belt Buckle and Rogue Millennium there doesn’t seem much in the way of a challenger.

Of the remainder, if you were looking for one at a bigger price I’d put forward Speak as an each way alternative. Hailing from a yard in decent form and with signs of greenness in her last outing I expect her to come on for that performance and looks likely to improve for this longer trip.

All that being said however it’s the favourites to lose and that looks less than likely.


written by Rory Paddock

15:30 Ascot

Strawberri is two from three over this trip and arrives here for a trainer who has started the season well, however took a couple of races to reach top form last year and the drying ground would be a slight concern.

Spirit Of The Bay notched a four timer last summer and has put in a couple of promising runs since returning this year so is respected despite this being a step up in class, while Richard Kingscote rode the winner of this race last season and looks to have a decent chance of following up this year with Don’t Tell Claire who has won for the jockey before and also has a prior course and distance success to his name.

That said, preference is for Rising Star who has had a couple of runs on the all-weather already this season, beating the re-opposing Serenading on penultimate run at Newcastle, so should have a fitness edge over a couple of her rivals. In addition to this she was only beaten just over a length by Don’t Tell Claire over course and distance when they last met and our selection re-opposes on much better terms today.


written by Dean Kilbryde

15:50 Lingfield

The Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes looks an intriguing contest with She Do and Chocoya facing off at Group 3 level after finishing 1st and 4th in a Listed race last time out at Newmarket back in October. Both of them are making their seasonal debuts and the market will no doubt guide as to which has progressed better over the winter.

Last year's Bosra Sham winner Symphony Perfect piloted by Jamie Spencer is my idea of the winner, although she appeared to not stay on her previous attempt over this trip, I am going to give her another chance now that she is race fit. She has been highly tried and although she has to take on older rivals, she does get a handy 12lb allowance that certainly doesn’t do her chances any harm.


written by Michael Taylor

16:05 Ascot

With twenty-eight runners set to charge down the Ascot straight, this will likely take some deciphering and a good bit of fortune will almost certainly be required in the run. For those interested in trends, four year olds have the best recent record and have plundered the prize seven times from the last dozen renewals. Favourites have a rather poor record with just one winning within the same time frame and for those interested in the draw, horses drawn in double digit drawn have fared best recently.

Vafortino twice won over this trip when trained by Joseph O'Brien and he made a pleasing debut for Kevin Philippart De Foy when a good second at Newcastle last time. Strictly speaking, one suspects that effort will require a good deal of improving upon to land this though the horse that beat him has since franked the form and he looks fairly handicapped as present. Excellent claimer, Benoit De La Sayette takes off what could prove to be an invaluable seven pounds and so a chance will be taken on him reaching at least the places.

Darkness has improved with each run since joining David O'Meara and he fairly rattled home when visored at Haydock last time. Looking through his form, one suspects he may require a little rain though he may just need a fierce pace to show his best and it would be a surprise if he didn't get that here.

Fresh has won here before and he was a major eye-catcher when just failing at Kempton last time over six furlongs, this step back up to seven should suit the current market leader though quite how much leeway he has off ninety-eight is open to interpretation and he has previously burnt fingers.

Accidental Agent caused an upset when rolling back the years at Newmarket though he was quite impressive and he had his finest moment here when winning the Group One, Queen Anne as a four-year-old. Eve Johnson-Houghton has her yard in decent form and whilst it will take some effort for her charge to win, he certainly warrants consideration at big prices.

Dark Shift won his final two starts of last season, both at this venue and he showed a most pleasing attitude when battling on gamely in the pair of them. Nudged up to ninety-one, he will have to resume at his peak though his yard are having a really good time of things lately and his attitude promises at more to come.

Oo De Lally looked in need of the run when only fifth on his comeback at Haydock, he will appreciate this step back up in trip and is respected for Andrew Balding. Charlie Appleby has two though separating the chances of Path Of Thunder and One Ruler appears a thankless task, despite that, given the yards form, you would have to seriously consider both of them though we shall take them on. Royal Pleasure, River Nympth and Arastus deserve a mention but our vote shall be split between Darkness and Vafortino.



written by Chris Connolly


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