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UK Racing looks at the races of interest this weekend

First things first, and what happened at Warwick on Wednesday this week? Either the weather forecast was not worth the paper it was written on, or someone failed to read it, with the Clerk putting water on the track only to see it bucket down which saw the meeting abandoned at 10.00am on race day. 

If it was purely down to nature, then fair enough and something that cannot be avoided, but social media is full of comments that everyone knew the rain was coming – in which case why did they exacerbate the issue by adding water of their own.  More importantly, in my eyes anyway, is the radio silence as if it really does not matter – tell that to the jockeys, trainers and owners who had to turn their horseboxes round last minute, the hundreds of racing fans who had booked a day off work for no reason, and the staff, a good percentage of which are probably casual labour who likely will not get paid now that the racing has been called off. 

Meanwhile, all the talk has been about the Derby, with Callum Shepherd jocked off second favourite Ambiente Friendly for the James Fanshawe yard in favour of Rab Havlin, better known for his association with the Gosden yard. 

It is not for me to decide if that is either a good or a bad decision, we will find out on Saturday 1st June, but the flack Rab is taking on (anti) social media seems way out of line. I can see the views of those who think it is unfair on the younger jockey and I do genuinely feel for him, but is that his replacement’s fault. 

He has been offered a prime ride in one of the most important (and valuable) races of the Flat season, did anyone seriously expect him to turn it down? I have heard nothing to suggest he has “done a Lester” and gone looking for the ride, I just do not see that as being in his nature, and if he had turned the mount down I would bet good money that the owners would have looked elsewhere regardless.

In other news, I did note that the levy is holding perhaps better than expected with £105 million heading racing’s way, but what seems to have gone unnoticed by some is that this figure comes from higher profits despite lower turnover. As I have not read of any redundancies or efficiency savings at the bookmaker end, this can only have come from us punters via reductions in bonuses, higher overrounds at or near the head of the market, account restrictions, and account closures.

I have been worried for some time now that if affordability checks et al remove the biggest losing punters, then the only way they can balance the books is to remove anyone at the other end of the scale – those either making money or not losing regularly or sufficiently enough – and if that is the case then this is just another step on a horribly slippery slope. 

Someone somewhere (and myself and my colleagues at the HBF (https://ukhbf.org) are trying) needs to persuade those at the very top that punters are fully entitled to at least aspire to making a profit – take that dream away, and what do we have left?   

On to the racing….

Saturday

1.50pm Haydock

The going may be the biggest question here with the possibility of soft or worse ground by race time, depending on what Mother Nature throws at us in the next day or so. It seems more than likely there will be plenty of give in the surface regardless, and in that case Live In The Dream could be the one to be on. 

Adam West’s stable star upset the odds last season with a win at York in the Nunthorpe Stakes on Good To Firm ground which he followed with a fourth at Keeneland and a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, earning over £50,000 in the process. He has also won on Soft and Good to Soft in the past and won first time out in 2021 and 2023, suggesting he can be ready to give his best first time out. 

Naturally, with his fitness not guaranteed I will not be going overboard, but at 9/2 as I write a little each way may reap dividends.  

2.05pm Goodwood

The Charlie Johnston trained Francophone is best in according to official ratings, and after a win at Southwell and a second in the Group Three Musidora Stakes her form is there for all to see. She has proved admirably consistent with two wins and two second places from her five starts, and effectively dropped in class at a track her stable love winning at, she could be another winning favourite for Saturday afternoon. 

Where I Wanna Be is another to consider for the Beckett team who will know exactly where they stand with their fillies, but she will need to take a step forward after winning a Nottingham maiden on her second start toward the end of last season.  

2.25pm Haydock

The whole World seems to know that Vandeek has been burning up the Newmarket gallops in recent weeks, and we will not get much of a price about the Havana Grey colt who remained unbeaten last season including the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville and the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. 

We will not get rich backing him individually, but this is a horse worth following for the rest of the season and I will be enjoying the race with interest – and adding him in to any multiples I may consider. 

2.30pm The Curragh

Art Power returns to the scene of the crime after taking the Greenlands Stakes last year for Tim Easterby and the seven-year-old tops the market for a repeat bid in 2024. Howeever, at the time of writing the going is officially Good to firm, and he is yet to win on anything faster than Good, with the majority of his nine victories have been on a softer surface. 

He may be worth opposing for that reason alone, in which case the long absent Erosandpsyche may be worth a quid each way. Something has kept the six-year-old off the track since he came home second here in September 2022 when he was beaten into second but the amazing and sorely missed Highfield Princess in the Group One Flying Five Stakes. 

His fitness obviously has to be a major concern and bets should be reduced accordingly, but he has a touch of class about him and may have more to offer if they can keep him sound.  

3.20pm York

I risk legal action by suggesting Ralph Beckett is a Ladies man, but what I mean is, he has a stable full of decent fillies to go to war with this season. Although his three-year-olds may be the best of them, I am quietly sweet on the chances of River Of Stars in this Group Three contest. 

A daughter of Sea The Stars, she won this race last year on her seasonal return as a four-year-old, and has clearly been aimed at a repeat performance. Admittedly she did not win again last season, but she did place in better races at Longchamp and Goodwood, though I doubt connections will want much more rain with a quicker surface seemingly her preference.  

3.40pm The Curragh

The Irish 2000 Guineas has been won by trainer Aidan O’Brien in three of the last 10 year, and this year his main contender appears to be River Tiber, a winner at Navan. Naas, and Royal Ascot, and third to Vandeek at Deauville and Newmarket. He is hard to discount even in this field, but once again gallops reports suggest 2000 Guineas second Rosallion is the one to beat. 

A length and a half adrift of Notable Speech at Newmarket, and anything but disgraced, he may be able to go one better in this field if he lives up to his very lofty reputation for the Richard Hannon yard, though at Evens, he is another likely to win, but unlikely to make any of us rich.

3.45pm Goodwood

One last race from Goodwood where we have the Cocked Hat Stakes, won three times in the last seven years by the Gosden yard. 

This year they have two runners, with Rab Havlin on board Lyric, and Benoit De La Sayette on Pappano. The first named may be the better of the two after his Windsor victory, but I am going to take a chance on the William Haggas trained Space Legend. Second on his only start as a juvenile at Chelmsford in December, he is clearly a late maturing sort and showed the benefit of his trainer’s patience when winning with ease on his return in a Leicester maiden by over five lengths. 

This is clearly a big step up in class, but his stable are one of the best at placing their horses, and if they think he is up to this standard, then he almost certainly is.

Sean’s Suggestions:

Win double – Vandeek 2.25pm Haydock and Rosallion 3.40pm The Curragh

         
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