AN exciting day's racing on Channel 4 on Saturday. Graeme Johnstone (@GraemeJ_83) gives us his best bets.
14:00 Newbury | Channel 4
Channel 4 start off tomorrow with a mile and a half Listed race and it's attracted a good field. Gatewood and Windshear are solid horses at this level and Elite Army is a horse of real potential but I feel that they are all playing for place money here.
Telescope is a Group 1 horse racing in a Listed race, and with the benefit of his seasonal debut and not having to give weight to any rivals rated significantly below him he looks a solid betting proposition here.
He made his seasonal debut at the Guineas meeting two weeks ago coming second behind Second Step. On paper that is a disappointing return but I seen a lot of positives. He travelled well throughout the race, and when asked to win the race two furlongs out by Ryan Moore he quickened impressively. He tired close home but I fully expect him to be much sharper this time out.
He will be competing in all of the top summer middle distance races and I expect him to be doing so on the back of a victory here. For those who don't like backing 8/11 chances I think Gatewood will run a big race on his seasonal debut. He has won first time out before and despite the ground not being soft enough for him John Gosden's stable going so well he can reward each way followers with a place.
15:10 Newbury | Channel 4
This is a tricky little race. A mile and a quarter handicap for three year olds, there are a few colts in here who'll be competing in Group races in the future.
Dissolution is the favourite from the Sir Michael Stoute yard and he comes here on the back of a win at Newmarket. He's only had five career starts and is far from the finished article. He still has a lot of improvement in the locker but this is a tough race and I'd be willing to take him on here.
Time Test and Space Age are both making their seasonal debuts here and they should have good careers ahead of them. Both have only had three starts, but to win a handicap as competitive as this first time out will be tricky.
The one I like in this race is Azraff from the Marco Botti yard. He won two handicaps last season before being stepped up to Group level. He came up short on that occasion but it was the sixth race of his two year old campaign and its possible he wasn't at his peak then. He returned this season with a solid if unspectacular run at Kempton before coming second in a Newmarket handicap.
This run was full of promise. Running off top weight he travelled well, leading two furlongs out before being outpaced close home. The horse who beat him there Marma's Boy is a progressive young horse and it could be he faced an impossible task conceding 16 lbs to that rival.
I feel the bigger field and the likely stronger pace will help Azraff here and I expect him to run a good race. Available at 12/1 I see him as an excellent each way bet.
15:45 Newbury | Channel 4
The first Group 1 race for older horses in the UK this season and it has attracted a field of 18!! There is a mix of established Group 1 horses, horses attempting to step up to the top level and a few horses who's owners fancy a day out!
Night of Thunder is the favourite for this, and last seasons 2000 Guineas winner is the class act in the field. Though he was something of a shock winner of the Classic he went on to run massive races in three further Group 1s over a mile and he is a deserving favourite here.
When I first looked at this race I had forgotten how good his form was. After the Guineas he chased home Kingman in the St James Palace at Royal Ascot before flopping in the Eclipse where the step up in trip did not suit. He then came second to Charm Spirit twice, ending the season going down by a half a length in the QEII.
This puts him near the top of the tree amongst milers still in training, but I have a nagging doubt about him as a horse. I'm not sure he is one I would want to take 5/2 about against 17 rivals and I'll be taking him on.
Toormore, a stablemate of the favourite is interesting. He has won on his first start as a two year old and a three year old, and in his nine career starts has only finished out of the places twice. He was only half a length behind the favourite on their last start yet is available at 9/1. The plus side of there being 18 runners is that bookmakers are paying four places each way, and I rate Toormore a great each way bet in this.
I'm also tempted to have a small each way bet on Aljamaheer as well. A strong travelling type, he came third in this race two years ago behind Farhh. He spent the rest of that year competing in the top mile races before reverting to sprinting last season. That experiment didn't really bear fruit, but he still has a lot of talent, and I can envisage him travelling effortlessly through this race and he could well be the horse to grab 4th place. The 25/1 available is generous.
14:00 Newbury – Telescope to win (8/11 William Hill)
14:00 Newbury – Gatewood each way (10/1 William Hill)
15:10 Newbury – Azraff each way (11/1 BetVictor)
15:45 Newbury – Toormore each way (9/1 BetVictor)
15:45 Newbury – Aljamaheer each way (25/1 Stan James)
Night Of Thunder is the hot favourite for Saturday's Lockinge Stakes.
Open an account with Coral this weekend and they'll give you a massive 5/1 on the horse just finishing in the first four!