Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at The Curragh, Newmarket and Newcastle. View selections below
As long as the ground is not lightning fast Jack Dexter (2.05) looks the one to beat for Jim Goldie in the opening race on Plate Day at Newcastle after his excellent staying-on fourth in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot over the minimum trip; he steps back up a furlong in the opener at Newcastle and, when you consider he has won at 7 furlongs, he looks sure to go close in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes. Hitchens loves to hear his hooves rattle and he certainly won’t be inconvenienced by the ground but he gives 4lbs to the selection as a result of his recent Gp 3 Curragh victory.
I am a big fan of Montaser (6/1 favourite at BetVictor) and have wanted to support him for the Northumberland Plate all season but he has an awful draw in stall 20 and in the end it came down to a choice between Handsome Man (8/1) and 7/1 Mubaraza (3.15) with marginal preference for the latter.
The selection finished fourth in the Ascot Stakes last time when losing a good pitch with a mile to go before running on well into fourth. He is 2lbs worse off with Lieutenant Miller (drawn in stall 1) but I think he might be able to reverse the form. The lack of early pace in the race is a concern and it could be some scrimmage in the run to the first turn; it is always a competitive handicap and this year’s renewal is no exception.
Masteroftherolls (3.50) can go well fresh and his near four-month absence from the track is not a concern although the drop back to 7f is a slight worry for the Godolphin runner; Robert Winston gets a rare ride for the stable but the selection is drawn near to Memory Cloth who won the corresponding race 12-months ago although that was on heavy ground from a 9lb higher mark. The latter is an accident waiting to happen when the rains arrive but the hope is he can give the Saeed Bin Suroor runner a good tow into the race.
Fast Track is likely to be all the rage for the juvenile maiden over the minimum trip for David Barron having shaped with considerable promise at York on debut in a race that is working out well, but preference goes to Kevin Ryan’s Instant Attraction (4.20) who showed plenty of dash over 6f again on the Knavesmire on debut suggesting this drop back to 5f would suit.
At Newmarket it was hard not to be taken with the winning debut of Majeyda (2.20) at Leicester and she is taken to maintain her 100% record in a cracking listed race which opens the Newmarket card; Fig Roll will appreciate returning to 6f having finished 4th of 23 in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot but whilst she has the best form on offer I would be disappointed if at least one of the other less-exposed fillies didn’t improve past her.
Pastoral Player really should have won at Haydock last time but jockey Graham Lee couldn’t extricate the gelding out in time and I favour Producer (3.30) whose Leicester defeat of Aljamaaheer at Leicester in April reads very well in this company.
The finale is a hot little heat but Ghanian (5.35) is surely still ahead of the handicapper despite being raised 9lbs for an easy win at Salisbury last time; the return to a mile will suit but there are a number of dangers including lightly-raced stablemate Great Timing who has the considerable assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle for the first time.
The Irish Derby is the big Group 1 race of the weekend and it is fascinating to see Derby second Libertarian (6.30) employ a pacemaker as he tries to reverse Epsom form with Ruler Of The World; the selection will run in Godolphin blue and Cap O’Rushes will be employed as a pacemaker to negate the tactics of Ballydoyle who set a sedate pace at Epsom. I think Libertarian (7/2 at BetVictor) can go one better at the Curragh on this stiffer track and with an end-to-end gallop, seemingly, guaranteed.