Weekend Racing Preview with Charlie

Charlie McCann

The last Group 1 of the flat season the Vertem Futurity Stakes is the feature contest at Doncaster and Wembley (2.55) can go one better than when runner up in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last time.

The selection has not had much luck in his last couple of races and has only one win to his name in six starts – five seconds – but he looks sure to appreciate the step up to a mile for the first time. The colt is currently 12/1 for the 2000 Guineas next spring behind stablemate Battleground and is 15/8 with Boylesports for today’s contest. He is bred to appreciate today’s better ground and can give trainer Aidan O’Brien a tenth win in the race equalling the record of the late Sir Henry Cecil.

In the opening 12f handicap I am going to take a chance on Johnny Drama (1.10) who looked ready for a step back up in trip when a never nearer sixth at York last time over 10f. The handicapper has dropped Andrew Balding’s five-year-old a couple of pounds and Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle.

I am looking forward to the chase debut of Pileon (2.40) at Cheltenham and he gets the vote in a fascinating four-runner novice event in receipt of 5lbs from his three rivals who have all won over fences. The selection would have been a confident selection were it not for the form of the Philip Hobbs yard although he did have a winner earlier in the week – Zoffee – at Exeter. That was not his seasonal reappearance and it would be fair to say that the majority of the yard’s inmates have come on for their comeback run.

The six-year-old was last seen finishing second here in the Martin Pipe at the Festival in March and he certainly has the scope to jump a fence. The selection is 9/4 with BetVIctor.

Neville’s Cross (3.15) needs good or faster ground to be seen at his best but he is improving at a rate of knots since being sent over a trip and he can land his hat-trick in the 3m Pertemps qualifier. Conditions were described as good before racing on Friday and that is fine but do note he would not want conditions to deteriorate.

The progressive Manofthemountain has won his last four completed starts but he is, arguably, 10lbs higher – taking Ben Jones’ claim into account – than when scoring at Bangor-on-Dee last time and I just favour Cloth Cap (3.50) in the 3m 1f Handicap Chase.  The selection failed to get home on soft ground in the Kim Muir in his last start but is more at home under today’s conditions and did finish third in the 2019 Scottish Grand National. The selection is 15/2 with William Hill who are betting 4 places on the race.

The soft ground- not good to soft as per the official description – found Chuvelo (12.50) out on his hurdling debut at Bangor-on-Dee but he is taken to land the Kelso opener with that run under his belt. The Donald McCain yard have a strike-rate of over 25% in the last fortnight and Brian Hughes keeps the ride on the selection who won two of his three Bumpers for the yard last season.

Conditions were described as good at Kelso on Friday and I hope to see Some Chaos (2.33) land the feature race a cracking handicap chase over 3m 2f which features a former Grand National winner – One For Arthur – Midlands National winner – Truckers Lodge – and NH Chase scorer in Le Breuil. Truckers Lodge represents the Paul Nicholls stable and must run a big race, but the selection ran well behind Secret Investor of Nicholls’ at Chepstow last time and receives weight from the other principles.

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