Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot and Haydock Park on Saturday. View selections below.
PREDOMINANCE (4.15) continues on the upgrade and looks sure to go give a bold show in the 29-runner totescoop6 Victoria Cup at Ascot.
William Haggas mapped out the Lincoln Handicap as the four-year-old’s first major target of the season but Predominance instead contested the consolation Spring Mile after failing to beat the cut.
The gelding never sparked on the tacky Town Moor surface but looked a different horse at Haydock a fortnight ago on a much quicker surface, overcoming a troubled passage a furlong out to surge clear of Withernsea over this seven-furlong trip. He wore cheek-pieces for the first time that day and a 6lb rise is fair. With only five career runs to date, Predominance remains open to more improvement.
Fort Bastion produced a cracking effort in last Saturday’s Thirsk Hunt Cup (third) and should be involved along with Simon Crisford’s Mutawathea at a loud price. Ed Greatex looks a clever booking.
PANDORA (3.40) is an interesting runner in the EBF Breeders’ Fillies’ Handicap over the straight mile. Last year owner Sir Robert Ogden switched prize filly Amazing Maria to David O’Meara with startling results, and he has employed the same tactic with Pandora, formerly with Charlie Hills.
Pandora was campaigned latterly over 12 furlongs which seemed to overstretch her stamina. Her best effort probably came in the Musidora Stakes over York’s extended 10 furlongs when chasing home John Gosden’s Star Of Seville and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Together Forever.
O’Meara clearly feels Pandora has the speed to cope with this drop to a mile and she scored on her seasonal debut last year.
KING BOLETE (2.30) is another horse to change stables, from Luca Cumani to Roger Varian, and the four-year-old has an excellent course and distance record.
King Bolete finished fourth to Dartmouth in a competitive contest in July, that run coming on the back of another fine display at the royal meeting when again occupying fourth spot, this time behind Space Age in the King George V Stakes. Both those midsummer efforts came on fast ground and he is likely to encounter similar conditions in this Class 3, 1m 4f handicap.
The 22-runner handicap sprint over six furlongs offers another excruciating puzzle for punting masochists and NORMANDY BARRIERE (4.45) tops my shortlist. William Buick won’t have ridden too often for Nigel Tinkler but the trainer means business after Normandy Barriere’s excellent return (third) on unsuitably soft ground at Pontefract.
He was a dual scorer, at Redcar and Pontefract, on a quick surface last April before finishing second at York’s Dante meeting the following month. This is his time of the year. At the foot of the weights, Keith Dalgleish has booked Jim Crowley for Salvatore Fury, another at home on a sound surface.
There is some splendid jumps action on the Pertemps Network-sponsored mixed card at Haydock, with the Swinton Hurdle holding centre stage.
With good ground forecast, this will be a helter-skelter affair around these tight turns and CH’TIBELLO (2.15) is taken to follow up his recent Scottish Champion Hurdle triumph for Dan and Harry Skelton.
The-five-year-old had Some Plan and John Constable in arrears and that reopposing duo are weighted to finish slightly closer. However, that was Ch’Tibello’s first run since finishing third to Sternrubin and John Constable in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury (soft)in November and he relished the quicker ground at Ayr.
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