Sad news on Wednesday morning with the passing of snooker legend and racing nut Willie Thorne. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to Willie on a number of occasions and he always had a glint in his eye and a smile on his face. Yes he had his demons, but he was a wonderful snooker player and a legendary commentator. RIP Willie.

I posted my thoughts on Ascot Gold Cup Day on Wednesday morning but I have another recommendation for Redcar this evening.

Zoran (8.00) was taken out of a race at Goodwood earlier in the week presumably on account of the fast ground but I feel he may have been let in very lightly for his handicap debut. The form of his Newcastle fourth on the opening day of the season has not yet been tested, but I felt it was a hot race at Gosforth Park and Gabriele Malune takes off a valuable 3lbs on Hugo Palmer’s well bred colt who runs in the colours of Lord Derby. The ew selection is 6/1 at William Hill who are betting 4 places on the race.

Day three of Royal Ascot and the weather forecast suggests the track will be fortunate to escape without at least a couple of heavy showers during the day. At the time of writing the ground is described as good but it would be something of a surprise if conditions had not deteriorated by the end of racing.

Chinese Alphabet only raced on Tuesday and is very well treated on some of his form although he remains a maiden

The listed Wolferton Stakes is a terrific race but Fox Tal (1.50) has long been my fancy for the race and a repetition of his fourth in the Champions Stakes when last seen back in the autumn would make him very hard to beat.

Andrew Balding’s four-year-old – best priced 3/1 at bet365 – has only had six career starts and is open to considerable improvement this term. The colt was drawn in stall two in the Champion Stakes and has the same favourable post today. Aidan O’Brien’s Sir Dragonet was beaten less than a length in the Derby last year and represents a big danger although he is 0-2 over today’s trip of 10f. I remain convinced there is a big race in King Ottokar this season and he would be my each way alternative – 33/1 with Boylesports – to the market leader despite running below par at Haydock on his reappearance.    

Roger Varian’s Molathaam is a hugely exciting horse who drops back to 7f for the Jersey Stakes, having had his hat-trick bid foiled when stepped up to a mile on soft ground in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket last term. He raced away from the other principles on that occasion, but that form has been franked by the winner Military March who finished fourth in the Guineas earlier in the month.

French raider Celestin led at the furlong pole when fourth in the French Guineas and today’s drop back in trip should suit, but I was very impressed with the Newmarket success of King Leonidas (2.25) over a mile on his reappearance and hope this is one for the John Gosden/Frankie Dettori partnership.

The selection clearly gets a mile well enough, but he has travelled powerfully in both his successes and the way he brushed aside the highly regarded Easter World at HQ, giving that rival 7lbs, marked him down as one to follow.

Few horses truly stay the two-and-a-half miles of the Gold Cup but duel winner of the race Stradivarius certainly does and he is difficult to oppose in his hat-trick bid having run such an excellent race when third in the Coronation Cup on his reappearance at Newmarket earlier in the month.

It may be folly to oppose him but if the forecast rain materialises I am going to take a chance on the four-year-old Technician (3.35) who has won three of his last four starts and was staying on very well in the St Leger on ground faster than ideal. He has a bit to find with Nayef Road on that effort, but he was impressive when winning the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak and, if the rains arrive, he can serve it up to the odds on market leader. The ew selection is currently 13/2 with bet365 but will be shorter if the rain does get into the ground.

Finest Sound (4.10) has been raised 12lbs for a fluent success at Haydock on his reappearance when he looked a different animal to the one who struggled last term having had his wind tweaked since joining the stable of Simon and Ed Crisford. The selection – 6/1 at bet365 – can race with just a 5lbs penalty this afternoon and his Haydock victory was gained on good to soft ground.

African Dream looks something of a handicap good thing in the finale, but I am not convinced this stiff mile will suit and she is overlooked at 7/4 in the concluding Sandringham Handicap. She was not stopping over Newbury’s 7f when running a 100+ rated filly to a neck despite giving her 7lbs. She is 16lbs “well in” this afternoon but her breeding suggests she may struggle to get home especially if there is significant rain.

Soffika (4.40) was a fluent winner on debut over 6f at Pontefract before finishing runner up in the Group 3 Sweet Solera over 7f at Newmarket and the fourth horse home in that race – Romsey – finished fifth in the 1000 Guineas earlier in the month. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute there is plenty of stamina in the selection’s pedigree and her breeding also suggests soft ground would not be an issue. At 7/1 with bet365 I would be disappointed if she didn’t go close under Ryan Moore despite having to five 17lbs to African Dream.

For all your racing news go to charliemccann.co.uk

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