For some, there may be a slight distraction, in the form of a Royal Wedding this weekend, but Nick Luck is here with the blinkers at the ready to preview all the action from Newmarket and Newbury.
Newbury 1.50 – Juliet Capulet
Her penalty for the Rockfel win is offset by her sex allowance here, and she is finally being given a chance to do what three generations of her pedigree suggest she should be doing: running over a sprint distance. You can forget about her run in the Breeders Cup as she was drawn wide and never had a shot, but this is much more like her cup of tea and she’s got to have a big chance here under Frankie Dettori.
Newbury 2.25 – Crystal Ocean
He’ll be a desperately short price, and can’t just amble round as Raheen House and Second Step have plenty of good form under these conditions at this track, but it will be hugely disappointing if Crystal Ocean can’t win this before going on to better things. His trainer has taken it steadily enough with this horse and must have been very satisfied to see he was able to win over 1m 2fs on his seasonal debut at Sandown.
Newbury 3.00 – Chief Ironside
I think the handicapper has missed him, perhaps believing that his Chester win was more a function of setting his own fractions in front. Be that as it may, he was impressive, the race was up to standard and the time was respectable. In addition, his apparent improvement was entirely consistent with the promise he had showed in a very strong race behind the exciting Raymond Tusk here at the beginning of the season.
Newbury 3.40 – Deauville (each way)
A weird Lockinge, with loads of runners, quite a few of comparable ability, no real standout and a few distance question marks over the market leaders. Frankly, Deauville is a very hard horse to assess these days – and might very well save a bit for himself – but I strongly suspect he’ll get a very aggressive ride up this straight mile from his low draw. That will obviously help his stablemate Rhododendron (drawn beside him) to get a lovely draft into the race, but the selection will keep rolling at his one pace and he might just surprise a few. Deauville doesn’t much like a battle, but – ridden forward out of a competitive scenario – this might suit him perfectly. His career best by far came on Ascot’s straight mile last summer.
Newmarket 2.05 – Department of War
Already outstayed his pedigree in a warm Nottingham maiden, and can take another step forward here for Richard Hannon and Sean Levey. I think the manner of his victory slightly surprised connections that day.
Newmarket 2.40 – Great Prospector
There are two or three slightly sexier types in this race, but I’ve not been hugely impressed by any of them and Great Prospector has some really smart two year old form to his name. He has been gelded since his last run, and may well be able to put his superior track craft to good use.
Newmarket 3.15 – Nine Below Zero
This is a really interesting runner for a good stable. He looked a potential star when bolting up on his first two starts before finding Royal Ascot all too much. He lost the plot thereafter and hated heavy ground on his final start after a break at Salisbury. Now the slate has been wiped clean and he’s allowed in here off a pretty respectable mark. He opened up a massive price and showed too much talent early last year not to be backed to small stakes.