Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Newbury, Newmarket, Doncaster and Uttoxeter. View selections below
The first Group 1 in Britain for older horses the Lockinge Stakes is the centrepiece of a terrific card from Newbury; Farhh must go close for Godolphin but as long as the ground continues to dry out a chance is taken on John Gosden’s Fencing (3.50) who looked an improved performer, having been gelded during the winter, when winning at Ascot last time. The straight mile with a sound pace on good or faster ground looks the key and, in an open contest, he gets the nod at 11/1 with BetVictor.
Declaration of War has been the big market mover earlier in the week but I would suggest that money presumed soft ground and at 7/4 he makes little appeal in a competitive if perhaps sub-standard renewal. Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won the race since the great but much-maligned Hawk Wing put up one of the greatest performances I have ever seen back in 2003 when winning by 11 lengths in a much quicker time than Frankel achieved 12 months ago on similar ground.
What Frankel achieved in his magnificent unbeaten career was quite extraordinary but on this particular day ten years ago Hawk Wing finally showed everyone what he had consistently shown on the gallops at Ballydoyle. Whilst Frankel was able to sustain his brilliance for three seasons Hawk Wing, who was inexplicably asked to run over 12f in the Derby as a 3-y-old, only showed the odd flash of brilliance; but on this day ten years ago he was unbeatable.
Most things that could go wrong for Russian Realm (1.30) did go wrong at Chester on his reappearance and I am prepared to give him another chance in the 10f maiden. Ryan Moore again takes the mount on a colt who holds an entry in the Royal Ascot Derby the King Edward VII Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute saddled Fiorente to win this corresponding race back in 2011 and he went on to finish runner up to subsequent King George winner Nathaniel at the Royal meeting and I know he is held in some regard by connections.
The smell of burnt fingers was wafting all over Newmarket when Hillstar (3.15) was beaten at the Craven meeting but the winner (Soviet Rock) has gone in again and, although the handicapper has had his say, this Derby entry must go close off a mark of 92 in the 10f handicap. Michael Bell’s Azrur is thought considerably better than he showed at Newmarket last time but Hillstar gets the vote in another fascinating contest.
The reports were that You’re the Boss (5.30) had to be pointed in the right direction at Thirsk last time and he is beginning to look a tad frustrating but he is also given a chance to confirm his earlier promise in the 7f maiden.
At Uttoxeter Ballinahow Star (8.20) was taken off her feet at Kempton last month on ground quicker than ideal and I think she will appreciate the step up to 3m; at Doncaster Dream Cast (6.25) was well backed on a couple of occasions as a juvenile and makes his reappearance in a race that might not take much winning.