With only four weeks to the Royal meeting this is the time when trainers start sending out their better early season juveniles to see whether they may have an Ascot horse on their hands.
Godolphin saddle three newcomers in the opener at Nottingham with Saeed Bin Suroor’s Final Decision of particular interest with Kieren Fallon booked but they will have to be well above average to beat Aktabantay (2.00) who cost 370,000 Guineas as a yearling and ran with considerable promise when a short head second to Elite Gardens at Newmarket on debut over the minimum trip.
This additional furlong looks ideal for the son of Oasis Dream and Ryan Moore is again in the plate.
The step up to 10f is not sure to suit Heho (3.30) on breeding given her sister was a winner over a mile but she looked sure to appreciate further when runner up over a mile here last time and Ryan Moore takes over for the first time on her handicap debut.
There are a number of lightly-raced, well-bred fillies’ in the field and it promises to be a hot little contest.
There is a good maiden at Newcastle where the ground is likely to be on the soft side of good with showers forecast.
Galactic Heroine is one to keep a close eye on in the market making her debut for James given but Godolphin’s Fullaah (3.20) also has her first start and she is the sister of listed winner Modeyra and out of the Oaks third Zahrat Dubai. She looks the main reason why jockey Silvestre De Souza travels north to Gosforth Park.
Alan Swinbank’s Naburn (4.20) has clearly improved since a pipe-opener at Southwell, running well on his next three starts and remains well treated from a mark of 69.
Ben Curtis steered the 6-y-o to victory at Catterick three starts back and is once again in the plate bidding to add to the partnership’s excellent 19% strike rate over the past twelve months. The form of his last run has already been franked and he looks to have leading claims, should he stay the marathon trip.
There’s evening racing from Yarmouth with the opening maiden looking a race that has the potential to throw up an animal capable of making the Royal meeting next month. Robert Cowell’s colt Zain Dream sets the standard on his two efforts thus far however Royal Seal and Swiss Kiss (5.30) are the two stand-outs on pedigree with preference for the latter.
John Gosden’s filly is half-sister to the smart trio of group winning sprinters and showed enough encouragement on debut to suggest she could be just as good as her siblings. Although green on her seasonal debut last time out at Lingfield there should be plenty more to come, likely and likely to improve further now switched back to turf.
The way Sahara Desert (8.00) was backed on his handicap debut at Nottingham suggests he is worth another look for the powerful combination of Ryan Moore riding for Sir Michael Stoute. He showed progress in maidens last season before being backed into favouritism for a ten furlong handicap on soft ground at Nottingham.
The gelding is dropped back in trip to seven furlongs with a visor first time, hopefully seeing him in a much better light with the stable in much better form.
Chris Wall’s Meet me Halfway (8.30) was a comfortable winner of a course and distance handicap last month and can follow up that success in the seven furlong handicap. The filly has gone up 5lb was that success however talented claimer Ashley Morgan takes off 3lb due to her claim and should see her go close in the finale.
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