The flat is back at Newbury, where Juddmonte’s homebred Mori (3.40) makes her debut in a race won by subsequent Oaks winner Dancing Rain in 2012 and I expect this filly to be of a similar ilk. Midday’s first foal, Midterm, make a winning debut over course and distance 12 months ago, and I expect Mori to do likewise under Ryan Moore. Sir Michael Stoute’s filly is entered in the fillies’ classic at Epsom and is 25/1 with BetVictor to go one better than her mother and claim Oaks success in six weeks’ time.
BetVictor are 6/1 for Frankel to sire a classic winner this season and with Fair Eva set for the 1000 Guineas in a fortnight and with over a quarter of the foals entered in the Derby, that could look a touch too big.
Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute team-up with another smartly-bred filly in Superioritycomplex (5.10) in the 7f Maiden. The selection is a half-sister to connections’ black-type filly Abingdon and, with the stable making an uncharacteristic warm start to the campaign, she must go close to likewise making a winning debut.
Connections, and indeed the same jockey and trainer, must go close with Pivoine in the 7f Handicap however, preference lies instead with Jule in the Crown (4.10) after an excellent reappearance last week at Pontefract. The selection was the talk of the yard last season as a juvenile, winning her maiden before finishing down the field at Royal Ascot on ground far softer than ideal. She chased home a useful colt last time out over six furlongs, and can go one better stepping up in trip.
The feature Conditions Stakes is dominated by two unbeaten fillies for the in-form yard of John Gosden with stable jockey Frankie Dettori opting to partner Shutter Speed over stablemate Enable (3.05) who nevertheless gets the nod from us to win the feature under William Buick. The daughter of Nathaniel beat a pair of subsequent winners when making a winning debut at Newcastle over a mile in November and, entered in the Oaks, is bred to thrive now stepping up in trip to a mile and a quarter.
Another two-day meeting that kicks-off today is Ayr’s Scottish National card with 30 declared for tomorrow’s feature and both Nicky Henderson and Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls three-handed I their attempt to claim the £120,000 first prize. It should prove a massive weekend for Nicholls, who is now as big as 7/2 with BetVictor to retain his NH Trainers’ Title and £300,000 to make up behind the Master of Seven Barrows.
Both trainers are represented in a competitive renewal of the 2m 4f Novices’ Hurdle where I expect to see Henderson’s Burbank (2.10) relish today’s forecast better ground. He was fourth in a hot renewal of the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and looks well-placed by connections to score for the second time over timber.
Nicholls can likewise get on the board early when saddling Winningtry (3.15) in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over an extended three miles. Owner Trevor Hemmings’ looked to have a smart one when the gelding made a winning debut in a warm Wincanton bumper 12 months ago and, despite a slow start over timber, shed the maiden tag at the fourth time of asking over hurdles. He should relish the step up to three miles and is likely to be even better on today’s forecast better ground.
Both Nicholls and Henderson are represented in the feature Novices’ Handicap Chase, with the progressive pair of Warrior’s Tale and Theinval, however marginal preference lies with Two Taffs (3.50) for in-form brothers Dan and Harry Skelton. The selection scored on the corresponding card over hurdles 12 months ago, and after finishing an excellent third at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, can defy a 5lb rise at the weights.
Nomoreblacjack (4.20) should complete the hat-trick under the excellent Danny Cook in the 2m Handicap Chase. The selection has been raised 20lb for two comfortable successes at Catterick and looks a potential smart chaser for the Sue Smith team.