HORSE RACING: Leading pundit Charlie McCann gives his latest weekend racing preview. This week the former Talksport tipster focuses on the cards at Newbury and the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
A week of classic trials concludes at Newbury this afternoon with Arcano putting his unbeaten record on the line against Canford Cliffs in the five-runner Greenham Stakes due off at 3.40. The latter has been described as the best he has ever handled by Richard Hannon and it should be remembered that the veteran trainer has saddled three previous winners of the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas.
Canford Cliffs could hardly have been more impressive when winning the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June, but his bubble was well and truly burst by Arcano in the Prix Morny at Deauville in August. Hannon believes we will see the real Canford Cliffs this afternoon and there are sure to be more than a couple of ripples in the Guineas betting after the eagerly-awaited clash.
The fillies’ trial is the Fred Darling Stakes (3.05) and Lady Of The Desert is looking to emulate her mother Queen’s Logic who landed the corresponding prize in 2002. There must be a slight stamina concern stepping up to 7f for the first time but jockey Kieren Fallon feels she will get the trip, and she can avenge her defeat by Misheer in the Cheveley Park Stakes.
Michael Bell’s yard are in good form and there could be a Royal winner at Newbury courtesy of Tactician who finished second behind this week’s Newmarket winner Co-ordinated Cut at Doncaster on debut. Bred to stay every yard of the mile-and-a-half trip Tactician looks to have the Stoute horse to beat in the 4.15.
There is some wonderful jumps action from Ayr including the Scottish Grand National at 3.20. Tony McCoy broke his Aintree duck last weekend and must have a leading chance of following up this afternoon with Theatrical Moment (10/1) but preference is for That’s Rhythm (16/1) who came a cropper when still going very well in the corresponding race last year. He is 6lbs higher this year and he fell too far out to be certain he would have got home, but he has been laid out for the race and can reward ew support.
Pepsyrock never got into contention at Aintree but he has been dropped another couple of pounds by the handicapper and he can reward the leniency by landing the competitive 2m chase at 4.30; in the next Nikos Extra (5.05) must have fast jumping ground to be seen at his best and conditions were softer than the official description at Sandown last time. He is another trying a new trip of 3m 1f. He can land the nap.
Aidan O’Brien has won five of the last nine renewals of the Ballysax Stakes and he saddles two of the eight runners at Leopardstown on Sunday including Mikhail Glinka who finished runner up in a Group 1 on his last juvenile start. The colt does not look out of the Ballydoyle top drawer but he may have enough to give O’Brien another win in this Derby trial.