Magna Grecia gave Aidan O’Brien a 10th 2000 Guineas win in emphatic fashion at Newmarket on Saturday with the trainer’s son Donnacha in the plate. The favourite Ten Sovereigns was reported to have been inconvenienced by the rain-softened ground – officially good – and the colt will revert to sprinting going forward.
The clash between the unbeaten Calyx (5/4 favourite at BetVictor) and Ten Sovereigns (4/1 with BetVictor) in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot next month is a mouth-watering prospect and let’s hope they both get there in one piece. Mabs Cross won the Palace House Stakes for a second successive season – under a 7lbs penalty – and was trimmed from 12s to 7/1 for the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting.
Seven Bank Holiday cards in Britain and Ireland this afternoon and we begin on the flat at Windsor. There is a cracking 12f 3-year-old Handicap and a market move for bottom-weight Tigerskin would be worth noting for Ralph Beckett, but I feel this rests between Hummdinger and Purdey’s Gift (3.10) with the vote going to the Andrew Balding-trained runner.
The selection finished third at Newcastle over 10f on his seasonal reappearance when he gave every indication that a step up in distance would suit. Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle for his handicap debut.
Grapevine will have his supporters in the 10f Handicap having finished runner up at Brighton from a 2lbs lower mark last time. The vote, however, goes to Cote D’Azur (3.45) who has an excellent draw for one who lies to race prominently and has dropped to a winning mark for Les Eyre. Regular pilot David Allen is at Beverley, so Luke Morris comes in for the ride. The hope is that he gets an uncontested lead.
The fly in the ointment could be Kerry Lee’s Bahari who returns to the track after a long absence. The booking of Rab Havlin suggests a big run is expected and he was a decent front-runner when trained in France by Andre Fabre. A market move would be worth noting.
Sparkle In His Eye is penalised 7lbs for landing a Newcastle maiden over a mile but won’t go down without a fight. The William Haggas-trained colt must give 12lbs, however, to the filly To The Moon (4.55) and John Gosden’s filly gets a narrow vote.
The selection finished third in a hot Newbury maiden on her sole juvenile start – winner Star Terms ran in yesterday’s 1000 Guineas. Connections of this well-bred filly will be keen to get a win next to her name as soon as possible and she has a good draw in stall four.
At Kempton Tommy Silver has won two of his last three starts for Paul Nicholls on a flat right-handed track and has every chance of giving Sir Alex Ferguson a welcome winner. Lord Bryan has been raised 5lbs for winning at Newton Abbott last time in a decent looking race, but the vote goes to Exitas (3.30) who has dropped to a mark 2lbs below when successful at Aintree back in October when ridden by today’s pilot Lorcan Williams.
It is three weeks since Ian Williams last saddled a winner over jumps, but I hope to see Solar Impulse (4.40) follow up his recent Bangor win from what is effectively and 11lb rise – handicapper put him up 10lbs and he is 1lb wrong at the weights. The selection remains 12lbs lower than when winning the Grand Annual when in his pomp for Paul Nicholls and it should be noted that the stable had a winner on the flat on Saturday.
Cruiseaweigh (2.40) was taken out of a race at Warwick last month on ground officially described as good when I felt he lost a gilt-edged opportunity. The hope is that Tom George allows him to take his chance back at Warwick this afternoon in the 2m Handicap Chase. I thought the 8-year-old jumped beautifully when outstayed over 2m 3f at Doncaster last time. Let’s hope connections feel underfoot conditions will allow him to put his best foot forward.
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