Only one place to start this weekend and that is with the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and the reappearance of the brilliant unbeaten Frankel who has six rivals, including two pacemakers, in the Group 1 event although Richard Hannon’s Strong Suit’s participation depends on no further significant rain.
Frankel (3.40) lest we not forget is the best flat horse in the world and whilst we are not likely to see as devastating a performance as we saw first time out in the Guineas last year, it would be a shock if he were beaten despite missing a bit of work at the time of the Grand National with a minor setback.
Frankel’s main rival appears to be Excelebration a was most progressive 3-y-old with Marco Botti in Newmarket last term, but has already seen the back of Sir Henry Cecil’s brilliant colt three times; I fully expect the same result at Newbury despite the fact that the colt has joined the tutelage of Ballydoyle and Aidan O’Brien since last year.
Noble Mission is two from two so far this season and was impressive at Newmarket last time in a slowly run race but I like the Gosden colt Thought Worthy (2.15 Newmarket) in receipt of 5lbs from the likely favourite; the selection was no match for Ballydoyle’s Imperial Monarch, who took the scenic route at Sandown last time, but this brother to St Leger winner Lucarno is open to significant improvement.
Mince (2.45) met trouble in running on his reappearance at Newmarket and is 6lbs higher in the ultra competitive 6f 3-y-old handicap; Frankie Dettori takes over for the first time and the Italian could certainly do with a couple of winners given he has made a quiet start to the season. Hannon’s Democretes is a big danger with Ryan Moore taking over but the Charlton filly gets the nod.
There was plenty of stable confidence behind Aljamaaheer (3.20) on his reappearance and I am convinced he is better than he showed at Newbury; the step up to listed class represents a step up in grade but this doesn’t look the strongest of contests.
Wrotham Heath (5.40) got worked up and sweated badly at Newbury on his comeback and is given another chance in a cracking finale at HQ; the Bell colt Suraj holds a Royal Ascot entry and is held in some regard but Wrotham Heath was considered the Cecil Derby horse during the winter and is given the nod.
There is a terrific card at Doncaster in the evening and I am looking forward to seeing the return of John Dunlop’s Nawwaar in a fascinating handicap over a mile; he looks as if he may need fast ground to be seen at his best, however, and Dank (7.45) is a filly who the Stoute yard think is going places. Ryan Moore comes on from Newmarket (wonder if he wanted to stay at home and watch the CL Final?) and she is taken to make it two from two this season.
Donald McCain continues to carry all before him and his Golden Call (3.10) was no match for Ambion Wood over hurdles at Perth last time but is taken to make a winning debut over fences at McCain’s local track Bangor.