A big week of racing in the North West with Haydock hosting a two-day meeting starting today, Aintree carrying the flag on Friday night before Chester host another of their popular Saturday afternoon cards.
At Haydock Basma (2.40) made an eye-catching debut over C&D when finishing strongly into fifth and this well bred filly can get off the mark at the second attempt. At the time of writing trainer Barry Hills has won with his last two runners and local boy Paul Hanagan takes over in the saddle.
Bartholomew Fair didn’t get home in Linfield’s Derby Trial on his reappearance and is one to note for a market move. Jockey Adam Kirby is forging a terrific partnership with Luca Cumani and is riding out of his skin at present; Bartholomew Fair could be very well handicapped but I’m not convinced he would have won at a mile at Lingfield and he has a poor draw to overcome.
Purple Rock (3.10) had plenty of fancy entries earlier in the season and he also drops back in trip to a mile having disappointed at Salisbury over 10 furlongs when last seen over five weeks ago. The selection ran well behind subsequent winner Mutarakez over a mile at Sandown previously and it should be noted that the Charlie Hills’ string were not exactly firing at the time.
Birdman has never won over a mile on turf but remains in cracking form and must go close to his fourth win of the season in the handicap for older horses. Preference, however, is for Express Himself (3.40) with Ryan Moore in the plate for the first time. The selection can be slowly away and might need luck in running, but last year’s winner Chosen Character should ensure there is a decent enough pace and he is certainly in the right hands.
Dannyday was backed as if defeat was out of the question on his handicap debut at Kempton but I’m not convinced he will improve for this afternoon’s step up in trip. Singular Quest (4.10) made a bold bid to make all at Sandown last month and relished the extra distance; Pat Dobbs keeps the ride and she must go well in a cracking stayers’ handicap for the classic generation.
The well-bred Knight Of Wands (4.40) wouldn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary to make a winning debut for the Cumani/Kirby team in the 12f maiden. The betting will provide valuable clues as to the colts’ ability but those with racecourse experience don’t look anything out of the ordinary and the selection is a half-brother to King Of Wands who loved fast ground and was a decent stayer in his time for John Gosden.
The finale is another terrific handicap; Satellite (5.10) has been a frustrating animal since landing a Ripon maiden on debut but he gave the distinct impression he was ready for a step back up in trip when beaten less than 5l at York on his reappearance running on over two furlongs shorter than today.
Chancery is a dual course winner who is as effective on fast ground as he is on soft ground but he has never won from a mark in the 90s and will do well to gain a third course win.
At Kempton Andrew Balding fits a hood on Brandon Castle (7.40) for the first time reverting back to the all-weather. The selection is bred to appreciate a decent test of stamina and was too keen for his own good at Windsor last time. He is well drawn in stall four and can reward each way support.
The booking of William Buick for top-weight Gilded Lili looks significant and the form of her Newbury third over a mile back in October reads very well given the subsequent form of the second and fourth.
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