Six handicaps at Hamilton and the opening novice are on the menu for Sunday and are all given to ITV4 while Leopardstown has the quality with coverage for the slightly later starting terrestrial action, with the Derby Trial headlining a card that has two supporting Group races.
It’s an afternoon of variety, not the sort of variety we’d be used to back in the day on ITV, and with the runners in Scotland plentiful with five of the six handicaps all holding 15 runners, it is certainly a bit more of a punting day and my bets are all around 7/1 to 10s.
Shame they cannot all be 16, but we can’t have everything.
I’ll start with the Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore big hope, and Moore’s Derby and Oaks prep week takes him from Chester, to Lingfield and Sunday across the sea with Stone Age – a horse looking to add to Ballydoyle’s dominance in recent seasons, although surprisingly Moore has only ridden the winner once in the last 10 years given that O’Brien 50% of those 10.
Stone Age won a Navan maiden last time out, so has the fitness, and he also had the rating as prior to winning at Navan in March, he was the highest-rated maiden in the country at 109. His juvenile campaign was a tough one, with five races and a heavy-ground effort in the Jean Luc Lagadere
He hated the testing French turf and the benefit of decent spring ground saw him in a better light last time out and this is the favoured race for Ballydoyle instead of the Dante for which he held an entry next week.
It goes without saying that 1m4f for a good-moving horse for Epsom are both factors that will suit and he’s 12/1 on the Sportsbook for The Derby, although Luxembourg’s price at 6/1 is half but under a bit of scrutiny following the news over the past few days he didn’t come out of the 2,000 Guineas one hundred percent.
The Ger Lyons-trained Atomic Jones beat Stone Age by a head in a below pair Group 2 last term, and he has a bit more of a stamina question certainly with 1m4f further down the line, while Jim Bolger’s slow start to the season has not really been improving of late, with no winner in the last 17 sent out from his base, and just four from 57 all season. No juvenile or older horse has won a race bar his 3yos.
Manu Et Corde goes for the wily old fox, with the Latin meaning of said horse “The Doctor works by hand and heart”.
I quite like French Claim, and it’s great to see Paddy Twomey mixing it with the big guns, and his horse posted a wide margin win last time out at Cork in soft ground, and clocked a good time.
He made the running and improved for the step up to 1m2f on that occasion, and with fitness, I think he’ll get 1m4f down the line, he looks worthy as a bet to take on the favourite, and he could also take him on for the lead as both have forced the pace.
No rain is on the forecast, but he’ll enjoy going this way around, but he’s not exactly a massive price, and while the remit for the column really is to go for something at decent odds, I’ll have him if we can get around 4.57/2 on the Exchange.
The following Group 3 Amethyst Stakes is the all-age contest over 1m, but once again not many runners with the hand dealt us. I am a true subscriber to the skills of Ado McGuinness, a man who continues to play a big role in handicaps.
Preterville is a good ground horse and has a nice way of travelling in his races with a decent turn of foot. If it becomes tactical he is a player, as he holds a burst of acceleration and outran his odds last time at Listed level. He also beat the 113-rated Thunder Moon at Dundalk, but this is a level above.
The prize money for the Sky Bet Sunday Series has certainly boosted the usual quiet end of the week, and the cards on offer for a Sunday two weeks ago forged one of the worst day’s racing I have seen for a while. However, the Sunday Series was a success 12 months ago and a card with plenty of handicaps livens up the afternoon. The time slot is a good one too, and it’s a far more interesting product than the Racing League.
For the opener over 1m1f, Tim Easterby’s Myristica sneaks into the 0-80 off top weight and she has given the impression in the past that stepping up to 1m4f in the future could be her thing.
She was a tough 3yo, typical from the yard, although looked a hard ride at times. However, she ran in one of these Sunday Series race at Musselburgh last term and finished third, although didn’t appear totally in love with the track. However, she had plenty of form at Ripon, which makes her a bit of conundrum, but the way she travelled on decent ground last term in a 0-90 suggests she could be well treated still from 80.
Her in-running price in defeat at Ripon was 1.364/11, and that was her second loss at odds-on in-play, but this is her sort of grade and the stiff finish in a well-run race will suit. The trip of 1m1f is a reduction in distance for her, as I do think she is worth having a go again at 1m4f, but the stiff uphill finish will help her.
The stiff finish comes into play for another of the Sunday selections with King Triton, and while he is sticking to the extended mile for the 16:48, he has form in a far deeper grade at 0-90 and 0-95 level for Grant Tuer, and this could spark a good season in handicaps.
Tuer is a little quiet in terms of stable form with just one winner from his last 19 runners, but the 4yo looked a good bit of business from Roger Varian’s yard, although when I say good business, the 100 grand that was parted with for his new owner wasn’t cheap.
He is bred to be good, as are all Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s horse (the previous owner). He only lasted three races for Varian and won a Novice at Thirsk on quick ground (boosted by the second who went on to record a rating in the mid-90s), but he made an instant impact at York for his Tuer debut running a blinder when third off a mark of 85. He looked well handicapped afterwards (hindsight!), but that was a much stronger race than he’ll be in today.
King Triton was a touch keen in that, and was very unlucky at Thirsk off just 1lb higher on his next start when he met trouble in a muddling race where the slow gallop didn’t suit him. A bigger field on Sunday at a greater pace will suit, and hopefully he can keep out of trouble from his draw in eight, but he shapes as if he’ll stay further.
His dam is a half-sister to Dubawi, and he’s related to those Obaid horses Emirates Queen and Princess Nada, and out of the sire of sires Invincible Spirit, it was somewhat surprising he left Carlburg after just three runs, but he certainly looks well treated from 85 – dropped 1lb for Ripon. Triton was the Greek God of the sea, but he doesn’t appear to need soft ground and the rain thankfully.
Five furlong sprints at Hamilton and big fields are not particularly easy, but if you are looking for potential Place Lay, I would be against Kevin Ryan’s Sound Reason.
He’s a front-runner, and is best when allowed to dominate, which might not be the case here from stall five. And while he was consistent last term with wins at Beverley and Carlisle, I am far from convinced about the form of Ryan’s yard at the moment. A couple of favourites for the trainer have been beaten recently at short odds, although he did have a winner at Hamilton in the week to take his tally to 2-24 in the past fortnight. But if this horse is bounced out, he might be one to use Keep Bets and ask for a lay with three places in-running.
Easterby has a strong-hand as the one-two from the Ripon Silver Sprint Trophy last time go head-to-head again with Ava Go Joe taking on Showalong.
Ava Go Joe has started the season well with two wins in his two starts, and as a few of Easterby’s are needing their first runs of the season, it’s even more meritorious that he is unbeaten for the campaign.
He came from off the pace at Ripon, and a hot pace too as the sectional data threw up some fast early fractions. Showalong has the ability to run sub-11 seconds, and did so with a 10.90 early split, but the fact they went quite hard suited Ava Go Joe and he was able to come from off the pace to win – something which isn’t always easy there.
A small rise in the weights isn’t prohibitive and he’s progressive, and with form over 7f, expect him to be outpaced but he’ll be staying on. He could also be worth playing with a higher price in-running as he went to almost double the odds last time at Ripon with an in-play price of 12.5 from 7.06/1, and it was also the same at Nottingham when winning last term hitting a high of 14.5 from 8.07/1.
Potentially he could be an Ayr Gold Cup/Silver Cup horse. Maybe Bronze. The new Golden Apollo. This is a 30 grand race and 18k goes to winner. This is what Sunday racing should be like.
I have found one more bet in Scotland for the 1m5f handicap, as it appeals a bit more than the shorter distances, and Haizoom enjoyed such a productive 2021, she can make her mark at a higher level for more money.
Carluke handler Keith Dalgleish’s eyes must have lit up when he discovered she was available to buy as a daughter of Sea The Stars last term. She did win for previous trainer Marcus Tregoning, but a 23,000 deal last summer at least was paid back (almost) with two wins at Ripon and Musselburgh. One of those came over 2m, so it’s a common theme for Sunday’s selections picking out runners with the ability to see out a trip, and more.
Haizoom landed the Musselburgh Gold Cup last term despite the slow tempo, but she ran close to that level with a second in the Stayers Final at Nottingham. That was a cracking effort
considering she came from a long way back to almost get there.
She is strong in a finish, backed up by two of her closing sectionals at a speed venue such as Musselburgh last term; running 11.77 and 11.56. The latter was in the penultimate furlong, and that’s not too shabby for a stayer.
I can see her running a big race, and the early prices up on Saturday morning had her at 10/1, so she makes the each-way bet.
Good luck for Sunday.
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