Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock Park and Chester on Saturday. View selections below.
Hugo Palmer may have felt a little crestfallen by the defeat of his 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh last weekend, but there should be a spring in his step as he unleashes some more of his big guns on a cracking Haydock card.
GIFTED MASTER (3.45) has won his last five races on the spin, blasting out in front and never seeing a rival, and more of the same is anticipated in the 188Bet Sandy Lane Stakes, a Group 2 contest over six furlongs. James Doyle, seen to great effect when propelling Log Out Island into an unassailable lead at Newbury a couple of weeks ago, will again need to get the fractions right.
With Buratino, Donjuan Triumphant and Ajaya carrying 3lb penalties, La Rioja may emerge as the main threat, especially if rain hits the track. Henry Candy’s impressive Salisbury-winning filly receives a 3lb sex allowance.
HOME OF THE BRAVE (3.10) has been a stalwart in the Palmer yard, scoring in Group 3 company in Ireland, and the four-year-old is fancied to land a very tight Timeform Jury Stakes.
This is a Group 3 for some seasoned seven-furlong specialists and the likes of So Beloved, Here Comes When and Breton Rock will serve it up to my selection.
Home Of The Brave made a winning reappearance at Leicester, handing out a beating to Coulsty. So Beloved had Coulsty five lengths behind in fourth when scoring over course and distance earlier this month, so precious little separates them on the book.
Breton Rock made a highly satisfactory reappearance in the bet365 Mile at Sandown, finishing third to Toormore. Heavy rain would boost his prospects.
Adaay landed the Sandy Lane Stakes on this card 12 months ago and should be sharper for his downbeat seasonal bow.
STRONG STEPS (2.00) has been threatening to win a decent handicap for some time and Palmer has recruited Frankie Dettori to ride in this Class 3 handicap over a mile.
Strong Steps is at his best in big fields and has run two excellent races this term, finishing fourth to Knight Owl at HQ and occupying third spot behind Azraff at Newbury. Strong Steps struck for home two out on his last start before being reeled in, so expect Frankie to have him handy.
John Gosden’s JOURNEY (2.35) was a bit buzzy on her first start in the Middleton Stakes at York, racing keenly out in front under Dettori. Consequently, she had nothing in reserve when challenged by Beautiful Romance at the furlong pole but, hopefully, Journey will settle better with that outing under her belt.
Journey had Beautiful Romance behind when narrowly denied by Simple Verse in the Qipco British Champions Stakes at Ascot in October and should outclass her opponents if back to that rip-roaring form.
Miss Marjurie bids to repeat last year’s success but will need to step up on her seasonal bow at Goodwood. Each-way preference would be for interesting Irish raider Laganore, a much-improved filly since being united with Kieren Fallon.
At Chester, PREDOMINANCE (2.50) has been handed a plum rails pitch in the Betway Handicap over an extended seven furlongs. William Haggas’ gelding has been expensive to follow, starting favourite on his last four starts and winning one, at Haydock.
The ground was a bit too slick when taken off his feet early in the Victoria Cup but Predominance will be more at home on this rain-softened ground. Pat Cosgrave should be able to tuck in behind the trailblazers and will need a bit of luck threading his way through.
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