Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Haydock Park and Musselburgh on Saturday. View selections below.
Trainer Tom George could be the man to follow on Challenger Series Finals day at Haydock, with BEHIND THE WIRE (2.40) fancied to land the three-mile chase.
The six-year-old has been making steady progress throughout the season and knuckled down well to land a nice prize at Newbury. Adrian Heskin prefers Behind The Wire over stablemate Moss On The Hill, a recent Wincanton scorer, and that’s a significant pointer.
Dual Sandown winner Rathlin Rose is on a hat-trick for David Pipe, his latest success coming in the Grand Military Gold Cup and his fourth to Brandon Hill at Newbury in January was another solid effort.
Jonjo O’Neill saddles three, with Monbeg Gold just preferred over Fort Worth and Adam Du Breateau.
Likely favourite Shanroe Santos has scored at Sandown and Warwick for Lucy Wadham, but this looks a tougher assignment.
SOME BUCKLE (2.05) looks a typical spring horse and should go well for the George/Heskin duo. The eight-year-old pulled readily clear at Stratford on good ground two weeks ago and also won last spring when trained by Paul Nicholls.
Ballybolley bagged this tasty prize 12 months ago and Nigel Twiston-Davies will have had this on his radar for some time. Ballybolley is a seven-time winner on good/good to soft ground and takes a drop on grade following his fourth to Max Ward at Kempton in March.
There are a hatful of last-time-out winners going to post which will guarantee some juicy prices in a very competitive affair.
STAMP YOUR FEET (3.15) is the each-way recommendation in the two-mile hurdle final, with 17 runners declared.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old is equipped with a tongue-tie for the first time and is nestled near the foot of the handicap. Stamp Your Feet won at Hereford in December and has run well at Musselburgh behind Project Bluebook and at Ludlow when third to progressive I’m A Game Changer and Dino Velvet.
The McManus colours are also carried by possible favourite Midnight Maestro. Alan King trained the gelding to land a significant gamble at Stratford last month when making his handicap debut but Midnight Maestro hasn’t much to spare over Harry Fry’s runner-up Brotherly Company on revised terms.
SHREWD (3.35) can keep Musselburgh’s valuable Tote-sponsored Queen’s Cup on home soil, with trainer Iain Jardine and 5lb claimer Lewis Edmunds both in rip-roaring form.
Shrewd has already shown a liking for the tight right-hand track, having scored twice over hurdles, and he races off virtually the same mark as when finishing second in last summer’s Ebor Handicap at York. He hasn’t been seen since running 12th in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket but ‘Scobie’ has the happy knack of getting his horses fit from a break.
There are some solid, but not particularly well-handicapped, stayers in opposition. Soldier In Action and Suegioo fall into that category, along with Andrew Balding’s Montaly.
Soldier In Action has returned to Mark Johnston following a hurdling campaign for Nicky Henderson. Successful under a positive ride at Doncaster, Soldier In Action then finished tailed off in the JCB Triumph Hurdle. It is no surprise, therefore, to see Joe Fanning riding Johnston’s three-time all-weather scorer Isharah, last seen when hunting up First Mohican at Lingfield last month. Fanning is likely to be positive from stall one.
Paul Hanagan has opted to ride Richard Fahey’s Angel Gabrial, a horse which has failed to deliver the goods since beating Suegioo comfortably in the 2014 Pitmen’s Derby at Newcastle. However, he has dropped to that old winning mark and a big run is anticipated.
Keith Dalgleish saddles useful mare Maleficient Queen but she has questions to answer over this 1m 6f trip.
Montaly has the services of supremely talented Oisin Murphy but was tailed off last of 15 in the November Handicap at Doncaster. Montaly may have been over the top that day but has paid the penalty for some good efforts in defeat last summer with a rising rating.
On a fascinating card, MAZYOUN (3.00) may be good enough to overcome a moderate draw in the Royal Mile Handicap.
Hugo Palmer pushes him up in distance on his seasonal debut following some good sprinting efforts last season. His gelding wore first-time blinkers when finishing third in a blanket finish to the Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar and the blinds are retained.
Mazyoun also ran second in the big sales race at Doncaster’s St Leger fixture, again over six furlongs. Winner Mubtasim was trained by William Haggas, who saddles fancied Novoman here. His gelding has a wide post position to overcome but his third to Maysham Star in a valuable Doncaster nursery over seven furlongs puts him in the mix.
Johnston runs three, with dual all-weather winner Mailshot possibly the pick of his trio off top weight. Rusumaat is another sprinter from last season to try his hand over further and this Catterick scorer produced his best effort when chasing home Stormy Clouds in the Goffs Premier Yearling Stakes at York on quick ground.
Chupalla hasn’t beaten a rival on her last two starts and is hard to fancy.
The Fahey yard send four to post with Hanagan opting for Rashford’s Double, on a four-timer but up 6lb for his last success at Nottingham in October.
Ray Beckett makes the long trip north with previous Wolverhampton scorer Dr Julius No but his gelding will probably need to improve on his seventh to the Haggas-trained winner, Second Thought, in a Listed contest at Lingfield last month.
Well-named Somnambulist, a Rip Van Winkle gelding owned by the Sleepwalkers syndicate, has a chance at the foot of the handicap on his 40-1 second to another Haggas winner, Mojito, at Newcastle in the autumn.
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