RACING boff Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is back with more brilliant tips from Saturday’s Channel 4 action.
Newbury 2.45 | Channel 4
The Al Rayyan Stakes is a mile-and-a-half Group 3 and, despite the small field, is an interesting race. It sees the return of Eagle Top, one of the highest rated middle-distance horses around, however, his win record isn’t the most convincing. So is he opposable?
Eagle Top (5/6 Paddy Power) was a sensational winner of the King Edward Stakes two years ago and stamped himself as one of the best middle-distance horses around.
However, despite some top performances and near misses, that remains his last win and he’s a horse I don’t trust. His second in the King George is the best piece of form around, however, he has had many opportunities to win and has been beaten at odds-on in a Group 3 before.
His stable is flying and if fully fit he should win but I’m prepared to take him on.
The other four runners are a talented bunch and despite not being rated as highly as Eagle Top, are group horses in their own right.
Ayrad (13/2 Ladbrokes) is a solid horse and is consistent enough however, he only has two wins to his name and despite his promising return, I’m looking at another in this race.
Carnachy (4/1 Ladbrokes) is a very progressive young horse and is improving with every visit to the racecourse. He bolted up in a Goodwood handicap last season and returned with a listed win at the same track last month.
Though this is the next logical step, it’s a strong Group 3. However, I think he has enough in his favour here to win.
He catches his main rival on his seasonal debut and there are question marks about his other rivals. With Ryan Moore on board he will be carrying my money today.
Newbury 3.55 | Channel 4
The Lockinge Stakes is the first Group 1 of the season for older horses and it has attracted a decent field of 13. However, between the ground and the distance, there are question marks over most of these. So who wins this?
After his race in France last season, I thought Limato would be very interesting over a mile this season. I planned to back him ante-post here but I was disappointed with the price on offer so left it.
Limato (6/1 Betfred) is a very interesting runner on Saturday though, on a softer surface I’d be against him. If he runs well I would be interested in him at Royal Ascot on quicker ground but this weekend he is a watching brief.
Kodi Bear (5/1 Betfred) is another interesting runner and there are no question marks regarding the ground for him. However, on his two efforts at the top level last season he was found wanting and despite some good form in the book, I’m against him.
I really want to back Dutch Connection (11/1 Betway) but something is telling me not too. If the ground remains heavy then he can’t win, however if it drys out, he is in with a huge chance.
Second in the Prix Jean Prat, Dutch Connection was six lengths ahead of third and that is top class mile form. I believe he will stay a mile but the conditions may not be ideal for him here.
The one I’m backing is last year’s runner-up Toormore (5/1 Ladbrokes). A top juvenile a few years ago, he’s never quite lived up to that potential but he was just off the top milers last season.
He won well on his comeback, giving weight to Dutch Connection, and he will handle the ground, stay the mile and has race fitness on his side. Out of all the runners, he has the least to prove and I expect him to go very close here.