Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Doncaster, Newbury and Cheltenham on Saturday. View selections below.
ARGUS (3.10) looks the answer to the competitive 1m 4f handicap at Doncaster. The only three-year-old in the line-up, Argus was sent off favourite for a hot handicap won by Mustard at Newmarket but faded into sixth. Ray Beckett’s colt may just have needed that run after a 103-day absence and the form of his midsummer Windsor victory over Keble looks solid after the runner-up ran second off a 91 rating at Glorious Goodwood. Argus is rated 89 here and he won his maiden on easy ground at Ripon, so underfoot conditions should be fine with rain forecast.
In the feature Racing Post Trophy there is little to separate John Gosden’s unbeaten Foundation and Deauville on their thrilling Royal Lodge Stakes shootout at Newmarket and the runner-up is equipped with cheek-pieces for the first time. Tony Curtis would have been tempting as an each-way alternative, especially as he relished the step up to a mile at Salisbury in August, but only seven runners has knocked that idea on the head. FOUNDATION (3.45) is the most likely winner at around even-money.
DHAHMAAN (2.00) beat the subsequent Gimcrack winner Ajaya on his debut at Nottingham in May (good to soft) then followed up at Chelmsford. Marco Botti’s colt stepped up again following a 115-day break when chasing home Donjuan Triumphant at York and the form was given a massive boost when the winner hosed up by more than five lengths in a Group 2 event in France.
There is an attractive Group 2 contest over 1m 4f on show at Newbury, where some heavy showers are forecast. Romsdal, placed in last year’s Derby and St Leger, and third this summer in the King George, is the class act. However, he has had a busy campaign and flopped on his last visit to Newbury on soft ground. MELODIUS (2.25) seems sure to be involved for David Elsworth. His filly appeared to handle deep ground at Salisbury when well held in second by classy Flying Officer and was only denied by Gretchen in a photo finish to the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster. One of Melodius’s main rivals today, Koora, was back in sixth spot and Melodius again ran well behind Journey at Newmarket on her last outing. Rawaki is capable on his day but finished tailed off in this event 12 months ago.
National Hunt fans will be focussed on Cheltenham where DEVILMENT (2.45) makes some appeal for in-form John Ferguson and Aidan Coleman. Devilment finished fourth in last season’s JCB Triumph Hurdle and has 10 lengths to overturn on third-placed Hargam. An 8lb pull makes things tighter and Devilment was last seen finishing a close second to All Yours at Aintree’s Grand National fixture. Alan King’s Karezak made an excellent return at Chepstow but is held on Triumph Hurdle running (11th), along with Stars Over The Sea (7th). Karezak is also well held by Lil Rockerfeller on Ascot form but is race fit. Besides Hargam, Paul Nicholls saddles his shock Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner Qualando and on a line through All Yours (fifth) there’s not much to chose between him and Devilment. Fitness will be the key at this very early stage of the campaign and with eight runners declared, an each-way play may be the sensible approach in a most intriguing four-year-old contest.
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