Many people’s minds are already wandering towards Royal Ascot next week but we still have a decent weekend of racing to look forward to. Kaeso is looking to win en route to the Royal Hunt Cup, we might see an Ebor winner in the shape of Mekong and Well Done Fox will be looking to recapture his two-year-old form at Sandown.
Queen Mother’s Cup
This race is restricted to lady amateur riders and it can often pay to follow a jockey in these type of races. Serena Brotherton is one of the more experienced jockeys in here and partners the last time-out winner Where’s Jeff. He’s only gone up three-pounds for his latest victory but has run poorly on all three visits to York and looks opposable.
Sir Robert Ogden’s home-bred Arctic Fox is seeking the hat-trick here having won nicely at the track most recently. A five-pound hike in the weights looks fair and the step up in trip looks sure to suit.
Makawee has looked very impressive on her last two starts and although the drop back in trip shouldn’t prove too difficult, I think her future lies over further. She got ten-pounds for her most recent win and I think this may just be enough to stop her.
Selection: Arctic Fox
There has been talk surrounding Kaeso as a live contender for nest weeks Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot. I can understand why given that he finished third in the Victoria Cup and then got his head in front at Chester. A victory here is very plausible and he could go to the Royal meeting as a leading contender.
I know I sound like a broken record by now but the Richard Fahey team are in fine fettle at present and Aljady bids to give the yard another winner. He caught the eye when staying on well over six-furlongs at York last month and off the same mark, he’ll take all the beating.
Love Dreams is a typical Mark Johnston runner having proved tough as nails in five starts this season. He stayed on well to make all at Beverley last week and can’t be ruled out.
Of the bigger priced runners, I like the chances of Golden Apollo who’s now three-pounds lower than his last winning marks and should be fine on this ground. The only reservation I have is the trip as I think seven-furlongs stretches him but he should still run well.
Grand Cup Stakes
I think this race is between the top three in the market, with Mekong by far the most likely winner. He just pipped Austrian School on seasonal return in a Group 3 at Sandown. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was a winner on heavy ground last year and will take all the beating.
Raheen House is an interesting contender having his first start for William Haggas having had a gelding operation and leaving Brian Meehan’s. He previously took a listed event over course and distance so it’ll be intriguing to see how he fares.
Austrian School was impressive on seasonal debut and was back on track with a fine third behind De Ex Bee in a Group 3 at Sandown. You can put a line through his Chester Cup run and if the rain stays away he should go close.
Pavers Sprint Handicap
Let’s kick off with Rathbone who made my 10 Horses To Follow at the beginning of the season. He’s won both starts this season and looks to be on a real upward curve. I think he can improve again but may like a sounder surface.
Victory Day has only had three-lifetime starts but was very impressive when landing his maiden at Ripon last month. A mark of 90 could prove very lenient and he’s worth keeping an eye on.
The booking of Kerrin McEvoy is very taking on Luxor, who won twice over this trip last season. He ran too keen when finishing last on seasonal reappearance but if you can put a line through that run, then he’ll be bang there at the finish.
Barbill ran well in a listed race two starts back and runs here off a two pound lower mark, having met trouble in France most recently. He’s got form with an ease in the ground and Gerald Mosse is an interesting jockey booking.
Street Parade has won three of his six career starts but has come up short on both attempts in stakes company. There is more to come from him but he’d prefer a sounder surface.
Leodis Dream was on a five-timer going into a competitive handicap at York where he ultimately trailed in last of the nineteen runners. I think a line can be put through that run and he can possibly regain the winning thread.
The best of these as a two-year-old was undoubtedly Well Done Fox who won two listed races and was Group-placed including a runner-up finish in the Flying Childers. He was disappointing on seasonal debt behind Calyx but if reproducing last season form, he’d be too good for these.
Of the remainder, Wise Words is chasing a hat-trick, while Pocket Dynamo also brings solid form into the race.
Selection: Well Done Fox
Randox Health Handicap
David O’Meara really excels with his French recruits and seems to have unearthed another smart type in Baltic Baron who finished runner-up on stable debut where he met trouble. Given normal improvement and a clear run, he holds leading claims.
Loch Ness Monster was running well all spring including when finishing third over course and distance. There were excuses for his latest poor run and with Cieren Fallon claiming a valuable seven-pounds, he has a big chance.
The Henry Candy-trained Thrave is very lightly raced and although he’s only got his head in front on one occasion, he’s shown very smart form on both starts this season and should go close.
I have a soft spot for Zap who landed a nice handicap at the Leopardstown Champions Day last season. I think a mile on this ground is too far for him and there will be other days to be had with him.
Selection: Baltic Baron
Whitley Gin Handicap
This looks like a very competitive handicap with most horses coming here in fine form. Gravistas finally got his head in front at Newmarket most recently following a string of runner-up placings. Now that he’s added that winning bracket to his CV, he can follow up with only five-pounds more to carry.
Prefontaine has been the subject of significant ante-post support in recent days and I can understand why having showed improvement on his seasonal bow at Sandown most recently. He’ll need to progress again but that’s very much possible.
Andrew Balding’s Lariat has yet to finish out of the three including a runner-up finish over course and distance two starts back. He hasn’t gone up too much in the handicap and should once again run well.