Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot, Newmarket and York on Saturday. View selections below.
GRAHAM LEE has quickly become what the top trainers call a ‘go-to’ jockey since his late conversion to the Flat and William Haggas has snapped him up for the ride on STENCIVE (2.55) in the John Smith’s Cup at York.
Lee will need to have his wits about him trying to overcome the widest draw of all but Stencive brings some rock-solid handicap form in the race. He also drew a stinker of a wide draw in the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot but almost overcame that disadvantage with a sterling effort in second behind Opinion. The winner was desperately unlucky in last Saturday’s Old Newton Cup at Haydock and the handicapper has kindly kept Stencive’s mark unchanged. Clon Brulee, impressive in both starts this season, will try to keep the prize in Yorkshire for trainer David Barron and is better berthed in stall six.
Lee also gets the leg up on another fancied Haggas runner in SUN CENTRAL (2.20). The four-year-old bounces off this fast ground and arrives here fresh after being taken out of the Northumberland Plate when the rain came. Sun Central steps up in grade after failing to concede 9lb to improving De Rigueur at Haydock but first-time cheekpieces may well eke out a few pounds improvement. Course and distance winner Montaser also goes well on quick ground and rates a big threat.
Jim Goldie supplied Lee with his first winner on the level when the Grand National-winning rider switched codes and they have struck up a fruitful partnership. The deadly duo team up in the stayers’ handicap with hold-up performer JONNY DELTA (4.40) and the six-year-old’s last run, when third at Musselburgh, can be marked up as he found himself short of room throughout the final two furlongs. He had looked very smart at Ayr previously, quickening up well from the rear to dash clear, and could be on the upgrade.
The July Cup at Newmarket is wide-open, with several speedballs boasting serious prospects. Lethal Force was mighty impressive in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot but runner-up Society Rock, third last year on heavy ground, beat Lethal Force previously at York. Shea Shea and Sole Power lock horns again after their duel in the King’s Stand Stakes but I’ll take a chance on GALE FORCE TEN (3.50), representing the Classic generation. Aidan O’Brien’s colt also scored at Royal Ascot, beating Montiridge (winner on Thursday) in the Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs. Previously, Gale Force Ten chased home stablemate Magician in the Irish 2000 Guineas and O’Brien has reached for the blinkers now that Gale Force Ten takes on the elite sprinting division. Ryan Moore is an added bonus.
At Ascot, consistent ALJAMAAHEER (2.30) can end a frustrating sequence of near misses by landing the Group 2 Summer Mile for Roger Varian and Paul Hanagan. After running on into third behind easy winner Farhh in the Lockinge at Newbury, Aljamaaheer was only worn down close home by Declaration of War in the Queen Anne Stakes at the royal fixture.
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