Fast ground is the order of the day on the July course Newmarket today and Nugget (2.15) can race from the same mark as when runner up at Windsor 11 days ago and he would be carrying 5lbs more if today’s contest took place 24 hours later.
Ryan Moore – who rode a treble at Sandown on Thursday evenning – was in the plate at Windsor and keeps the ride on Richard Hannon’s three-year-old who covered plenty of ground at the Thames-side track before getting mugged late on by an inspired Oisin Murphy on Stamford. Moore has been a beaten favourite on the selection in his last couple of starts, but I expect him to make it third time lucky this afternoon. Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Ambassadorial looks the main threat with the outstanding Tom Marquand taking over in the saddle. The selection was 9/4 with William Hill earlier in the day which was too big and he is now a best priced 11/8 .
Marquand takes over on Ice Sprite (3.20) who was a bit keen but was given too much to do when a good fourth at Yarmouth last time. She makes her handicap debut this afternoon from a mark of 70 and is certainly bred to leave that mark well behind in time. William Haggas has his string in great shape and the selection who was 3/1 in the opening salvos on Thursday is now 9/4 with Boylesports.
At Newton Abbot the winning pointer The Greater Good showed plenty of promise on his Rules debut for Paul Nicholls when fourth in a Southwell Bumper earlier in the month and the form has already been franked by the winner. If that run has taken the freshness out of him then he must go close, but Templepark (4.35) was just touched off here over fences earlier in the month and can make a successful return to hurdles. Fergal O’Brien’s 8-y-old is a duel winner over fences but did finish runner up in two of his three starts over timber and he will enjoy the forecast fast ground.
Neil King’s Gateway To Europe (6.35) steps back up in trip having made a satisfactory reappearance over an inadequate trip at Southwell at the beginning of the month. The excellent Bryony Frost keeps the ride and the handicapper has seen fit to drop the selection by 1lb. The 6-y-old must have good or faster ground to be seen at his most effective but, at the time of writing, there is no rain forecast for the area. The 5s with bet365 has gone but the selection remains a fair price at 4/1.
Gold Mountain finished in front of Fenlons Court (8.05) and Bubble O’Clock over this evening’s C&D earlier in the month but I feel the pair can reverse the form despite having only a 2lbs pull in the weights. Bubble O’Clock, who used to be trained by Paul Nicholls, tanked his way through that race but his fencing lacked fluency and he showed a marked tendency to jump out to his right.
I thought Fenlons Court – 8s with bet365 – was just getting into the race when making a significant error four out and I am not convinced jockey Daniel Sansom will include the ride on his showreel. He was well supported on that occasion, however, and if his jumping holds up then I feel he must go close.
A market move for the well bred Southfield Megan would be significant in the finale and she receives a stone from Beholden (8.35) but I thought the latter looked smart when scoring over C&D at the last meeting here and I hope to see the Channon 4-y-old follow up.
There is plenty of pace in the excellent 12f handicap at Ripon this evening and I hope Al Muffrih (7.25) does not get embroiled in a battle for the lead with The Trader and Groveman. Ben Curtis takes over in the saddle on the selection – 9/4 with Unibet – who finished third in a good York handicap just last Saturday for William Haggas when he may have set too strong a gallop. I have always thought there was a big race in the 5-y-old who landed the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar last year and has only had the eight career starts.
Over In Ireland and Shark Hanlon spoke in glowing terms about the long term prospects of Shanroe (5.15) after his win at Tipperary last month. He is 12lbs higher this afternoon but his talented amateur rider takes off a valuable 5lbs. The 3s with bet365 was too big but he is a general 2/1 shot. Note good ground is perfect for the selection but he wouldnt want any further significant rain.