Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at York, Newmarket and Haydock on Saturday. View selections below.
CLEVER COOKIE (2.20) looks sure to get the soft ground he requires at York and is strongly fancied to follow up his recent courageous Group 3 victory over Tac De Boistron in the Ormonde Stakes at muddy Chester. Clever Cookie is required to concede weight all round on the back of that success but this previous course and distance winner is developing into a classy stayer. His final run of the 2014 season, when fourth to Estimate in the Doncaster Cup, suggested there were better things to come and Peter Niven has campaigned him with due care and attention. Red Galileo led for a long way at Ascot three weeks ago and looked like folding tamely when easy winner Agent Murphy swept past. To his credit, Red Galileo rallied gamely to grab second place and the extra two furlongs of this Listed contest should favour Ed Dunlop’s colt. Big Orange was tailed off behind Clever Cookie at Chester but is capable of much better.
RENE MATHIS (1.45) can build on an excellent recent effort at Chester when finding only Newstead Abbey too strong. Richard Fahey’s five-year-old made most of the running until collared and he handles soft ground. His aggressive running style is well suited to the Knavesmire and his two previous course visits yielded a fourth to Spinatrix in last year’s Coral Sprint Trophy and an excellent third behind Muthmir and Goldream in the Skybet Dash. He is closely matched with Highland Acclaim on their Coral Sprint Trophy form but Andrew Balding’s horse is berthed in stall 16. The handicapper has raised Alfred Hutchinson 4lb for his recent course victory over You’re Fired. The gelding is at his very best sitting just behind the pacesetters off a strong gallop on quickish ground, so rain is a worry. David O’Meara’s Alejandro beat Alfred Hutchinson over course and distance last July and is 5lb better off. On the down side, Alejandro hasn’t been at the top of his game following a winter break. A more likely player from the O’Meara yard should be Penitent, third in the Haydock Spring Trophy earlier this month and a proven mudlark. Penitent won the Timeform Jury Stakes at Haydock on this weekend 12 months ago, so this could be the time to catch him.
MONSIEUR JOE (2.55) returns to his favourite York haunt and rates a solid each-way wager in the Titanbet Spring Sprint. His hold-up style means he is usually a hostage to fortune and the gaps never opened when finishing seventh in this event last year. The handicapper has dropped Monsieur Joe 6lb since then and he again failed to get the splits until too late when finishing strongly into fourth behind Out Do over course and distance at the recent Dante fixture. He was turned out two days later at Thirsk, finishing third, but Monsieur Joe’s return to the Knavesmire is a bonus. A repeat of his third place run behind Take Cover and G Force in a Listed sprint here last July would surely put him in the shake-up.
Some smart fillies and mares go to post for the 888sport Pinnacle Stakes over Haydock’s 1m 4f and TALMADA (2.00) gets the nod. Roger Varian’s four-year-old stayed on stoutly when chasing home Secret Gesture at York and she lost her maiden tag over course and distance last April, hacking up by seven lengths. Kleo handled soft ground well when scoring with plenty up her sleeve at Doncaster on her reappearance and found only Bragging too strong in Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket. The 1m 1f trip that day may have been on the sharp side but Bragging was well adrift of Talmada when a disappointing favourite at York.
CLON BRULEE (2.45) can making a winning seasonal debut by lifting another competitive renewal of the Timeform Jury Stakes. The Godolphin gelding, a previous course winner, was last seen at Newmarket in October running third to Berkshire in the Group 3 Darley Stakes. That came over 1m 1f and this seven-furlong contest is on the sharp side. However, his best form has definitely come with cut underfoot, so any more rain would make this much more of a stamina test.
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