Haydock’s three-day Rose of Lancaster meeting kicks-off with a terrific seven-race card, with ground officially described as soft all over. The opening handicap over a mile and a quarter will take some getting but Strummer (1.50) finished second on similar ground last time out at Brighton and looks well-placed to defy a 4lb rise at the weights. The yard of Kevin Ryan remains in good form, and he is well-drawn in stall one to reward each-way support under talented 3lb apprentice Lewis Edmunds.
Tom Dascombe’s well-bred colt Diamond Set (2.20) looked open to further improvement when second on debut last month over course and distance, and is a confident selection to go one better under stable jockey Richard Kingscote. The son of Dutch Art ran well despite signs of greenness, chasing home Mark Johnston’s highly-regarded colt Prestbury Park, who franked the form by winning at Chester over the weekend. With the debut run under his belt, he looks ideally placed to shed the maiden tag and is one of just a handful of runners guaranteed to go on the likely testing ground.
Another Dutch Art progeny likely to relish Haydock’s soft ground is William Haggas’ Sainted (3.50) who drops down in grade for the 6f Fillies’ Handicap. It’s very much a case of wetter the better on pedigree, with Cheveley Park’s home-bred out of a Pivotal mare that loved soft ground. The selection was beaten just three and a half lengths in group company last month at Glorious Goodwood and has been well-placed by connections to win a nice pot under Danny Tudhope.
Tudhope can double-up aboard Ismael Mohamed’s last time out winner Always Thankful (4.20) who can defy just a 2lb rise at the weights. Connections have clearly caught the handicapper on a good day, as the Showcasing filly looked set for a hefty rise at the weights after last month’s cosy success at Yarmouth. Both the second and the third have won subsequently and she is a confident selection to frank the form of that race yet further.
The New Pharaoh (4.50) is another last time out winner raised just 2lb by the handicapper, and is a confident selection to land the finale under Paul Hanagan. Chris Wall’s well-bred sort did column readers a favour last time out at Doncaster, landing a gamble under David Allan, in the manner of a smart animal. There’s plenty left to come from the unexposed 5yo, and he can hopefully defy a career-high mark.
Evening action comes from Sandown where Canberra Cliffs (5.35) must go close in the opening amateur riders’ handicap for trainer Don Cantillon. The daughter of Canford Cliffs ran as if amiss last time out however, prior to that was impressive in win over today’s trip at both Nottingham and Beverley. Simon Walker is an eye-catching booking in the plate and I’d be personally disappointed if she was unable to bounce back from last month’s lacklustre effort over a mile at Windsor.
Time Chaser (7.15) is bred to be group class and should take all the beating in the 10f Handicap under Kieran Shoemark. The selection is a half-sister to the brilliant Time Test and looked in need of today’s trip when maintaining her unbeaten record last time out at the track over a mile. By Dubawi, she should handle the juice in the ground and is a confident selection to make it 3 from 3 for the Roger Charlton yard.