The racing broadcaster has five picks for Newmarket, Haydock and Market Rasen, and provides his regular list of jockeys to watch at their favourite courses.
Some big pieces of the juvenile jigsaw will be put in place over the next couple of weeks with the return clash between VANDEEK and River Tiber in the Juddmonte Middle Park (Newmarket, 15:00) the most significant of the weekend.
The two met in what looks the strongest single piece of juvenile form in Europe this season, the Prix Morny at Deauville, when Vandeek emerged victorious on deep ground with River Tiber back in third. Quicker ground will be the main hope for River Tiber’s supporters but it is the Crisford colt who has just set the pulse racing that little bit more. It must have been the same for those who bid £625k for him at the Craven Breeze Ups, a pretty decent return for those that had purchased him for £42k just five months earlier.
It also means that he has been to the Rowley Mile before so the dreaded Dip should be no issue. Vandeek’s sire Havana Grey has an actual/expected ratio of 1.31 on ground that was good or quicker and he gets the vote to confirm the Morny form.
OTHER SATURDAY SELECTIONS
The big handicap of the week is the Cambridgeshire (Newmarket, 15:40) and features a tracker horse in EAGLE’S WAY 22/1 for Sir Mark Prescott, who famously landed one of the big gambles in the race’s history when Pasternak won in 1997 for the late Graham Rock.
Eagle’s Way was added to the tracker off the back of a race at Sandown where he was too close to the strong pace. He made short work of a series of handicaps last season but it would be wrong to assume he has yet reached his peak. I did expect him to go up rather than down in trip but this race is never slowly run so will hopefully provide enough of a test to enable him to be competitive.
There are clearly quite a few dangers, most notably the favourite Greek Order for a yard that has twice won the race in the past. He could well be ahead of his mark, but this can be quite a rough-and-tumble race for a horse with limited experience and he has been very well found in the market. Paradias back down in trip is another who catches the eye at a reasonable price.
Later in the card, STAR OF ORION SP, reunited with Rossa Ryan in the finale (Newmarket, 17:20), is definitely worth checking out. He was a winner over on the July course under the same pilot in July but it is his run just a week later at Ascot that’s the biggest positive for his chances here. He was third that day in a race that threw up five next-time-out winners and it was slightly surprising to see the handicapper drop him 1lb for his run last time, which was not run at a strong enough gallop to play to his strengths.
Away from Newmarket, MANILA SCOUSE will love the ground (Haydock, 14:40) having won at the track on heavy earlier on in the season. His only poor run this season came on quick ground and, unlike at Newmarket, Storm Agnes has left her mark on the ground which will be a key factor throughout the card.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
The jumps season is just beginning to gather momentum, and a quick shout-out to Nigel Twiston-Davies – one of our corner turners a few weeks ago and a yard that traditionally do well at this time of year – who landed back-to-back doubles at Perth and Worcester.
It is Emma Lavelle, however, who could provide the best bet over obstacles with TEDWIN HILLS SP. He couldn’t reel in the winner on his chasing debut at Southwell but travelled comfortably and jumped soundly. He tries this trip for the first time, but his quiet run style means it could well bring about even more improvement (Market Rasen, 15:20).
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
Here’s our regular list of riders who plying their trade at tracks where they have a particularly strong record on Saturday:
- Chester – Hayley Turner (19 winners from 118 rides, with an actual/expected ratio of 1.40)
- Haydock – Jim Crowley (55/294, 1.23 A/E)
- Newmarket – Richard Kingscote (26/203, 1.34 A/E)
- Chelmsford – Kevin Stott (31/124, 1.37 A/E)
MANILA SCOUSE SP (Haydock, 14:40)
VANDEEK 9/5 (Newmarket, 15:00)
TEDWIN HILLS SP (Market Rasen, 15:20)
EAGLE’S WAY 22/1 (Newmarket, 15:40)
STAR OF ORION SP (Newmarket, 17:20)