RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from Saturday’s racing.
13:50 Newbury | ITV
The Al Rayyan Stakes is a mile and a half Group 3 with six runners, however five of them are high-class horses and this looks a fantastic race.
Two Grade 1 winners and another two who hinted at being top-class makes this a race worth watching closely and should prove very informative for the season ahead.
Midterm (3/1 Ladbrokes) was strongly fancied for the Derby last season but injury ruled him out and he never hit the heights expected of him after that. A decent run in an Arc trial followed by a midfield effort in the Champion Stakes tell us he retains talent however his return this year was a little flat. He remains of interest but he’s not for me here.
Hawkbill (4/1 Ladbrokes) won what looked a decent Eclipse last season but after that his form tailed off considerably. He returned in a French Group 1 running semi-respectably however I think this race is a step up from that. He has become disappointing and is best watched here.
My Dream Boat (5/1 Betfair) won Prince of Wales Stakes last year and like Hawkbill his form tailed off after. However, he ran behind horses who would all be long odds-on to win here and I still think he is a Group 1 horse.
He ran well on return and that forms been franked since with the runner-up winning at Chester last week. At the prices and with race fitness on his side I make him my selection.
14:40 Newmarket | ITV
The King Charles Stakes over seven furlongs for three year-olds has a small field and it’s an intriguing race. A mixture of unexposed horses combined with a couple trying to rebuild their reputations this is a race that really caught my eye.
Despite the small field Masham Star (11/1 Ladbrokes) should ensure a good gallop and his presence here is a boost to my selection.
Taamol (3/1 Boylesports) won well on debut last season and has ran in a couple decent races since. He was behind today’s rival Larchmont Lad at Doncaster then returned this year on the all-weather when comfortably beaten. He is likely to put up an improved show here but others appeal more.
Seven Heavens (6/1 Bet365) had a huge reputation last season and this son of Frankel is now looking disappointing. He won his first two starts before flopping in the Dewhurst and I don’t think connections know his best trip.
I couldn’t back him at all however there is still the possibility everything will click but I’m willing to take that chance.
I’ve always liked Larchmont Lad (11/4 Ladbrokes) and I had a speculative bet on him in the Guineas. He was poor that day however this is a massive drop in grade. The guineas form tends to stand up and I think his run in the Craven was better than it looked.
If he fails to win here I will be giving up on him but I feel he will be too good here despite his penalty.
15:30 Newbury| ITV
The Lockinge is the first UK group 1 for older horses and typically the starting point for the top milers. We have a field of eight however it looks a good renewal and it’s a race I’ve been looking forward to all week. It looks between five of these and I’ve plumped for one each-way here.
Ribchester (7/4 888) is a Group 1 winner and he had a fantastic season last year. Remarkably consistent he seems versatile in terms of ground and connections are bullish about his chances. He returned with a solid effort in Dubai and is the one to beat I think, however he is quite a short price now.
Galileo Gold (4/1 Paddy Power) won the Guineas and St James Palace last term and was one of the top milers around. His form tailed off as the year went on and he would need to show his old zest to figure here. The fact connections have chosen to let him race on at four is promising and I’ll be watching him closely here.
Aidan O’Brien has started the season in typically strong fashion and from his many entries relies unusually on one horse here. Aside from her runs in the English and Irish Oaks Somehow (7/1 Paddy Power) has been very consistent and it appears it took Ballydoyle a while to work out she is a miler.
Bred to be top class, she seems to be improving, is race fit and will see the mile better than most of these. I don’t think she is the best miler in the race, but I have a feeling she will be the fittest on Saturday. I’ve backed her each-way for this.
13:50 Newbury – My Dream Boat (5/1 Betfair)
14:40 Newmarket – Larchmont Lad (11/4 Ladbrokes)
15:30 Newbury – Somehow (7/1 each-way Paddy Power)