The ground was described as good to soft at Newbury on Thursday morning, but conditions are likely to be no worse than good come post time for Friday’s card.

The maiden and novice races are likely to throw up some decent winners with Her Majesty’s Reach For The Moon likely to be a warm order as he bids to break his maiden tag at the third time of asking. His second in the Chesham Stakes is top class juvenile form but he faces some well-bred newcomers and potential improvers.

In the 12f handicap Keep It Brief and Skycutter are ahead of the handicapper and the former would be carrying 5lbs more if this race took place at the weekend. His facile recent success was gained on polytrack, however, and he has a but to prove for me back on turf.

My two against the field are the three-year-olds near the foot of the weights and preference for Saligo Bay (3.55) over Oz Legend is marginal. The ew selection – 5s with MansionBet – did not look the easiest of rides when third at Chester last time but gave the impression there was plenty more in the tank. After just five career starts, he remains open to significant improvement.

Oz Legend has been taken out of a couple of engagements due to the prevailing fast ground in recent weeks. Hugo Palmer fits his son of Australia with cheekpieces for the first-time today and he is another who I feel is potentially well ahead of his current mark.

The concluding 7f handicap is for jockeys who have yet to ride ten winners, but Liam Browne has ridden four winners from just 19 rides since leaving Ireland and he can make it five courtesy of Deputy (5.05).

The selection – 2s with 10Bet – is 5lbs higher than when scoring over C&D on soft ground last month, but he has run well on good ground in the past. He is another unexposed 3-y-old and I hope there is plenty of pace in the race as I believe the selection will get a mile in time.

Sir Roderic is 4lbs “well-in” having been raised by that amount for finishing second at Chepstow last month. He is thrown in on his old form but seems to reserve his best for Chepstow recently. That said he represents a big danger.

At Nottingham State Of Bliss is likely to be a warm order in the 10f handicap, but Possible Man (3.45) is taken to bounce back for Sir Michael Stoute and King Power Racing having disappointed at Sandown on soft ground last time. David Probert takes over in the saddle with Silvestre De Sousa at Haydock to ride Fivethousandtoone. The selection is 3s with Boylesports.

The Stoute filly Star Seeking is likely to be all the rage for her belated seasonal reappearance in the 1m Novice event for fillies having created such a favourable impression when scoring at Leicester on debut back in September.

She carries a 7lbs penalty for that success, however, and I was quite taken with the handicap debut of Sweet Believer (4.20) who finished runner up on the July course last month. She is bred to be smart, and it is interesting that her astute connections drop her back into Novice company shunning what I feel is a favourable handicap mark. The filly is 11/8 with BetVictor.

Only four go to post for the 10f fillies handicap on the July course this evening but they all won last time out including Brunnera (5.40) who can defy a 10lbs rise for scoring over C&D last time.

The Juddmonte filly – 15/8 with William Hill – will have the race run to suit with both Portfolio and Anghaam making all last time and it is the former – owned by Her Majesty the Queen – who is considered the main danger to Hugo Palmer’s filly.      

There is a sensational card at Hamilton this evening and I would have been sweet on the chance of Meraas (7.30) following up last year’s win in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup were it not for his draw in stall one.

Yes, I know the each way recommendation – 6s with Boylesports – won the corresponding race from the same stall in one 12 months ago, but that was a 9-runner event, and he will do well to get across to the stand rail tonight as he did 12 months ago.

He must race from a mark of 99 tonight – minus Andrew Breslin’s 5lb claim – whereas he was rated 97 in 2020. I thought he ran a terrific race on his comeback at Haydock on ground softer than ideal and tonight’s good ground is ideal. Note he was gelded and given a wind operation back in the spring.

The form of Eternal Glory’s (9.00) Pontefract win on nursey debut was given a boost when the second Clodovea went one better at Beverley earlier in the week. The selection – 6/5 with 10Bet – would be carrying 3lbs more if this were run tomorrow and she has improved with every race. She can take a bit of a tug and the hope is that she is a bit more amenable to restraint with Ben Curtis keeping the ride.

It could be a red-letter night for trainer Mark Johnston who also saddles the exciting Kings Prince in the listed Glasgow Stakes. 

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