Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at York, Sandown and Hexham. View selections below
Pearl Castle won last year’s corresponding Queen Mother Cup at York, under an inspired ride from Serena Brotherton, and looks ominously well-treated to defend her Title once more this afternoon. John Quinn’s gelding is 5lb higher for beating the ill-fated Saptapadi last year however is overlooked for Les Eyre’s unexposed Marmion (2.00) making his debut handicapping from an opening mark of 80. The colt creeps in at the foot of the weights and shed the maiden tag at the third time of asking last week at Catterick. The selection was runner-up in a brace of maidens at Lingfield and Thirsk, with the form of both races franked subsequently and with the generous 15lb weight-for-age allowance can follow-up under Alyson Deniel.
David O’Meara’s So Beloved (2.35) has been well- backed on all three starts for the yard this term, coming good last time out when scoring over course and distance under Phillip Makin a fortnight ago, and is fancied to follow-up in the competitive 7f Handicap. The selection beat the useful yardstick Alfred Hutchinson, despite not getting a clear run, and can defy a 7lb rise under Makin once more. Geoff Oldroyd’s Alfred Hutchinson returns on 5lb better terms and is dangerous however Mark Johnston’s filly Enlace could prove the biggest danger, sneaking in at the foot of the weights under Royston French.
Martyn Meade’s colt Scalzo heads the market for this afternoon’s 6f Handicap after bolting-up last time out at Haydock and is 7/2 with BetVictor to make it 3/3 this year for new owner Sheikh Hamdan. The colt boasts obvious claims however at the prices it could be worth siding with Squats (3.45) for the team of William Haggas and Pat Cosgrave. The selection was progressive last term and was unfortunate to bump into Clive Cox’s Profitable in competitive handicaps at Haydock and Ascot, with the winner rated 108 subsequently after Listed race success at York last month. The gelding hasn’t been sighted since an excellent fourth on Good Friday at Lingfield but can return to winning ways now back handicapping on turf.
Trainer Geoff Oldroyd primes most of his horses for a tilt on the Knavesmire and his Bop It (5.30) looks well-treated to put his best foot forward in the closing 6f Handicap. The selection has misfired in three starts this term, finishing down the field at Ripon and Doncaster twice, however has been dropped 7lb for those efforts and that combined with the reapplication of head-gear should see him go close under regular partner Barry McHugh.
Sandown is this afternoon’s other marquee fixture and Andrew Balding’s Man of Harlech (2.20) a fascinating runner in the competitive handicap over a mile. The selection has had just four career starts and is presumably hard to get right at home, however boasts a tremendous record fresh and has the potential to be much better than his mark of 86 suggests.
David Barron’s Likely bids to maintain her unbeaten record in the feature Scurry Stakes over the minimum trip however Profitable (2.55) can frank the Squats form under a 3lb penalty. Clive Cox’s colt showed a smart turn of foot when making a winning debut up in grade last time out and the well-bred son of Invincible Spirit can improve further now back on his preferred sounder surface.
Amanda Perrett’s Extrasolar (3.30) failed to land a blow last weekend at Epsom but a 3lb drop at the weights and the booking of Ryan Moore makes him a very attractive proposition for the 5f sprint handicap. The 5-y-o has dropped 10lb at the weights for his lacklustre efforts in five starts this term however scored in a similar contest last summer at Salisbury and is respected should the market speak in his favour.
At Hexham, Malcolm Jefferson’s Our Boy Ben (3.00) benefitted from a drop back to the minimum trip last time out at Sedgefield and is a confident selection to follow-up in the 2m Handicap Chase under Brian Hughes. The 6-y-o broke his duck over fences at the belated fourth time of asking last month and is taken to defy a 7lb rise accordingly.