Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Ascot and Haydock. View selections below
Semeen is likely to be all the rage in Ascot’s opener for Luca Cumani and is likely to make his mark later in the season, but preference on this occasion if for Lady Cecil’s lightly-raced Hamelin (2.05) who is partnered by Richard Hughes and is another colt to could make up into more than a decent handicapper this term.
There was much to like about the selection’s Leicester win, under Hughes, back in October although as a son of Cape Cross he wouldn’t want any more significant rain. Hamelin’s brother Native Ruler and half-brother Sixties Icon were at their best on fast ground and he might be best watched if the ground deteriorates further.
Glorious Protector is another to consider but he refuses to settle in his races and cannot be considered as a betting proposition until proving more amenable to restraint.
Harris Tweed (2.40) is a hard horse to pass on his game and he is sure to come on for his reappearance over 2 miles here last month. He ran as well as ever last season including when runner up in a Group 3 here over 2 miles last back end and is taken to make all in a cracking listed contest. Pether’s Moon carries a 3lb penalty but ran a cracker on his reappearance last weekend in the Jockey Club Stakes; he is another for whom significant rain would be a concern.
The Victoria Cup is one of the big betting races of the weekend and we bet 11/1 the field in this 29-runner cavalry charge over the straight 7 furlongs. Loving Spirit (14/1 each way five places at BetVictor) is taken to reward each way support having run well in many of these 7f Ascot handicaps without managing to get his head in front. Indeed his sole win came on debut but he continues to knock on the door and today’s conditions are ideal.
Haydock stage their mixed card with the feature the Swinton Hurdle and I think Vibrato Valtat (3.30) can get the new partnership of Champion trainer Paul Nicholls and Sam Twiston-Davies off to a flying start. The grey may have been a tad fortunate to beat Sign Of A Victory at Ayr last time, given the runner up was badly interfered with, but he is clearly going the right way and looks an idea type for the race. He is 5/1 at BetVictor (1/4 odds first four) and must go close.
In the opener there was a whisper on track for Big Easy (1.50) at Aintree returning from a long lay-off at Aintree last month and ran really well for a long way time. He is entitled to come on for the run and is another each way selection. Join The Clan and the unexposed Big Hands Harry are suggested as the biggest dangers but at 8/1 Big Easy gets the vote for Philip Hobbs who has saddled the winner twice in the last six years.
The William Haggas trained Mutakayef has been given an official rating of 107 having finished runner up in the listed Newmarket Stakes last weekend at the Guineas’ meeting. He was previously beaten a head by the newcomer Matalleb (2.25) in a Newmarket maiden and the latter makes plenty of appeal off a mark 20lbs lower having his second start in the mile handicap.
As a son of Elusive Quality he wouldn’t want much more rain but the gelding might be worth following in a cracking heat which looks sure to throw up a number of winners.
Ballincurrig goes from strength to strength and is likely to go off market leader in his bid for a four-timer but I always felt there was a decent race in Timesawastin (4.40) and he can score for Evan Williams having had a nice break since coming down at Cheltenham back in January.
The BetVictor Racing Club horse Real Tigress runs at Thirsk this evening chasing her hat-trick having won back-to-back races at Beverley including when winning by a long looking 4 lengths on Monday. The handicapper has suggested he will raise the mare by more than the 6lb penalty she will carry tonight so we are obliged to let her take her chance. She is clearly progressive but doesn’t have the best of drawers in stall 10.