A big day of racing ahead on Saturday with the Irish Derby at the Curragh and the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle setting intriguing puzzles for punters…
Starting in Ireland I do believe Wings Of Eagles has every chance of following up his Epsom success and I’d be more positive than negative about him winning, but the price is tight enough and I’m therefore inclined to look for the value elsewhere. Given the race is generally a fortress for team Ballydoyle then as an alternative I’m going to suggest Capri as the likeliest to outrun generous odds.
He ran a far better race than the finishing position suggests in the Epsom Derby, a luckless trip contributing to the margin of defeat there and he could well have won the Derringstown Trial at Leopardstown with a bit more luck in running too.
Crucially he has plenty of form with a bit of cut in the ground, highlighted best when landing the Beresford at the Curragh, beating stable mate Yucatan and then again when third at Saint Cloud in the Group 1 Criterium. He was notably sent off odds on for both contests which clearly suggests he has always been considered pretty good and for a horse with the essential tactical speed and conditions in favour then the 8/1 available represents a rather reasonable bet.
I expect Seamie Heffernan will opt for a forward ride this time and he doesn’t have much to find to get heavily involved.
With Cracksman I’m prepared to be proved wrong but I don’t think his achievements to date quite match his high profile. He kept needing to be chivied into the bridle at Epsom and that suggests he might just lack the natural mid-race speed some of his rivals possess and so I am happy to take him on.
I’d love to see Brian Ellison win the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle – we share a birthday and he turned 65 this week so a win for Seamour would be some double celebration for him. That said he will need a finesse ride and whilst I’m sure jockey Ben Curtis won’t make the same mistake this time around, having been chinned in the race last year, he has to contend with a 4lb higher mark and to my eye hasn’t improved since the race 12 months ago. Overall an infrequent winner and one you’d never be afraid to take on.
Sir Mark Prescott saddles Flymetothestars who is clearly very talented but lacks experience and not many will have won a race of this nature off the back of so little racing. You have to respect the trainer though and we all know he can get one to peak precisely when needed, but the price is short enough and he will need to take another fair step forward to win.
I’m quite sweet on the chances of Natural Scenery for this at a decent price. It looks a smart bit of training by Saeed bin Suroor so far and this four year old has progressed massively on an artificial surface. She should have won at Lingfield on Good Friday but met plenty of trouble and therefore had no chance after to get competitive. Josephine Gordon has an exemplary record on the filly; three out of three, plus I suspect the mark of 103 will prove to be ahead of the handicapper yet. She has everything in her favour and loves Newcastle so at 8/1 she must have a serious chance.
Elsewhere I think Red Verdon looks a fair bet in the Fred Archer Stakes at 2.05pm on the card at Newmarket. It’s quite a spicy little race for a Listed contest. He ran respectably in the Coronation and that looked a decent step forward on recent efforts. On the balance of his best form at three he’d hold a serious chance and they’ve gone for first time blinkers here, which whilst I’m not sure are specifically needed, might just elicit a little bit more improvement. Priced up at 4/1 or so he looks a bet.
On the same card Thikriyaat has solid claims in the Group 3 Criterion Stakes at 3.15pm for Sir Michael Stoute and Jim Crowley. Arguably it was a career best from the 4 year old at York last time and it was pretty clear he needed the outing first time up at the same track in May. He should be primed now and I recall Sir Michael suggesting the ground was plenty quick enough when he won at Goodwood last summer, so the predicted ease in the ground is set to suit. He was second to Ribchester in the Jersey last year which is serious form and so with conditions in favour and on a third run now back after a break it looks the perfect chance to catch him. He has had reported issues with a fibrillating heart condition, so that can also excuse a poor run or two, but he looks quite progressive on balance and is a sensible price at which to get involved.
Four for Saturday –
Newmarket 2.05 – Red Verdon
Newmarket 3.15 – Thikriyaat
Newcastle 3.30 – Natural Scenery
Curragh 5.20 – Capri
Enjoy the racing!
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.