Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips to consider at Newmarket and York on Saturday. View selections below.
HURDLERS boast an excellent record in the Betfred Cesarewitch and Cheltenham Festival hero COUNTRYWIDE FLAME (3.35) will relish the Newmarket stamina test.
John Quinn’s improving four-year-old is a tough character and, following a successful winter campaign, the Triumph Hurdle winner reappeared at Chester last month after a well-deserved 155-day break. Countrywide Flame dug deep into his reservoir of courage to repel the persistent Ardlui and races off the same eyecatching mark here.
Dangers abound, but Olympiad created a very favourable impression when landing a gamble at York’s Ebor fixture for Dermot Weld, successful in the 1992 Cesarewitch with globetrotting Vintage Crop. Tony Martin’s Leg Spinner, another dual-purpose stayer, broke a long Irish drought in 2007 and Olympiad could be the one to chase home Countrywide Flame, despite his awkward draw. Classy Martyr is another I like, despite slight reservations over his ability to see out this extended trip.
On a superb card at HQ, FULBRIGHT (1.50) is capable of bouncing back from a below-par effort in the Redcar mud last Saturday when down the field behind Eton Forever. Three-year-olds have won four of the last five runnings of this event and Mark Johnston’s colt had previously scored in style at Sandown when beating Tazahum and Gabrial on better ground. Fulbright should go off an each-way price. Libranno has enjoyed a productive summer for Richard Hannon and may prove best of the older brigade.
The concluding Group 3 Darley Stakes sees the reappearance of Cambridgeshire winner Bronze Angel but the one to be on is Jeremy Noseda’s scopey gelding GRANDEUR (5.15), a three-year-old still thriving on the evidence of his recent victory over Boom And Bust at Newbury. Hopefully, the ground won’t come up too soft as Grandeur prefers a decent surface.
The Coral Sprint Trophy at York is always a fiendishly difficult handicap to unravel but it may pay to stick with hat-trick seeking HEERAAT (3.45). William Haggas’ colt produced a couple of belting runs at Ascot and Newmarket in the summer behind Mince and Fulbright, then stepped up to the mark by bagging two competitive sprints here on the Knavesmire.
Coral also sponsor the 2m 2f handicap on the card and Dean Ivory’s VALID REASON (4.55) is attractively weighted. The five-year-old finished second to Orsippus in this event 12 months ago with another of his rivals, French Hollow, back in third and Valid Reason is very well treated on these revised terms. My selection limbered up with a run at Ascot eight days ago, when finishing sixth to Red Orator in a fairly hot affair, and the handicapper conveniently dropped him 2lb.
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