By Charlie McCann
Newbury’s last two-day flat meeting of the season is forecast to be run on soft ground this afternoon and in the opening division of the Mile Maiden those with experience look beatable and a chance is taken on Director (2.10) a £100,000 yearling who holds an entry in next year’s Derby for William Haggas and Highclere. His ability to handle soft ground must be taken on trust but he is worth more than a passing glance in the market for a yard who have kept their form admirably well throughout the season.
Roger Charlton has saddled the winner of a division of the event twice in the last four years including with last weekend’s Champions’ Stakes runner up Al Kazeem back in 2010. He introduces an Authorized colt Copperopolis (2.45) in the second division and the trainer was in excellent form at Newmarket earlier in the week saddling newcomers Ooty Hill and Wheat Sheaf who both look excellent prospects for next term.
The classic generation have won the three renewals of the fillies’ handicap and, despite a 3lb rise for her latest Windsor effort, Loch Ma Naire clearly revels in soft ground and must run well but Polar Eyes (3.55) is having only her second start for Tom Dascombe and is only 2lb higher than when scoring for Peter Chapple-Hyam at Newcastle earlier in the year.
At Doncaster Figment showed enough at Newcastle on debut, weak in the market, to suggest she would soon be losing her maiden tag having travelled well when fourth of 12 beaten less than a length over 7f. The step up to a mile ought to suit but preference is for the debutante Striding Out (2.20) a half-sister to Gold Cup winner Leading Light for David Simcock although, as ever, the market will provide valuable clues as to the expectations of the newcomers.
I like the booking of William Buick for Jamaican Bolt (3.30) in the feature race a valuable six furlong Fasprint. The selection has not won for two years but has been knocking on the door of late and might have gone very close at Haydock last time with an uninterrupted passage.
In the stayers’ event Spectator (4.05) is visored for the first time and is another running well in defeat of late. The classic generation have won eight of the last nine renewals of this particulat race and the selection already has winning form on soft ground for Andrew Balding.
Kevin Stott is excellent value for his 5lb claim and he rides Godolphin’s Ghazi (4.40) who has been off the track since making a winning debut at Newmarket last August. His subsequent 400-day absence is a concern but there was cut in the ground when he won on debut, the Saeed Bin Suroor team on in form and the selection will certainly be fresher than today’s rivals.
At Fakenham Knock House makes his chase debut for Mick Channon but is not the biggest and the mare Top Totti (2.30) gets the vote for Henry Daly whose string have made an excellent start to the jumps season. The mare finished fifth behind Quevega at the Cheltenham Festival and has the size and scope to make up into a decent chaser.
John Ferguson has booked Barry Geraghty, in the continued absence of AP McCoy, for Royal Skies (5.20) and it would be a surprise if he were not able to make it third time lucky in receipt of 7lbs from Kiama Bay.
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