HORSE RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) talks us through his fancies from Saturday's card.
Pinnacle Stakes | 2.35 Haydock | Channel 4
Haydock stages a decent little card this weekend and the Pinnacle Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile-and-a-half is our starting point. There are eight runners and five or six of these have real claims.
Journey (7/5 Netbet) lines up as favourite and has made giant strides since this time last season when she was still a maiden. Since then she has graduated in to a Group horse and was second in a fillies Group 1 at Ascot last season and comes here the form choice.
She made a satisfactory seasonal debut at York just over two weeks ago and is the horse to beat. Journey would need to improve from that to win here, however she is likely to and will take some beating.
That saying I think her targets lie later in the season and I'm looking elsewhere for my bet although I wouldn't put anyone off her.
Carnachy (6/1 BetVictor) won on her seasonal debut at Goodwood in April then followed that up with a third two weeks ago when I backed her.
I was slightly disappointed with her then and she would need to progress from that to win here. I'm not sure she will and I'd be happy to take her on. She is likely to win more races but this is a good race and I think the winner lies elsewhere.
Tony Martin sends over Laganore (7/1 888) and despite taking a huge step up in class, I think she is very interesting.
She has won her last two starts and looks better with every additional furlong that she races. Last time out she turned a low grade handicap into a precession and despite the better opposition here, has a real chance.
She has an additional two furlongs and is going to be 100% fit, unlike some of her rivals. If this race was being run in August I would be making a different selection but I think she is a good each-way bet here and I am going to take that chance.
Jury Stakes | 3.10 Haydock | Channel 4
The July Stakes is a fascinating race and I love seven-furlong races. This looks a good renewal and there is a mix of exposed types with horses who have an eye on stepping up in class meeting here, and I'm very sweet on one.
Home Of The Brave (3/1 Ladbrokes) is favourite and was a very impressive winner on his seasonal debut at Leicester a few weeks ago.
He is a horse who has won me a few quid over the past 12 months and this looks like his optimum conditions. I've always thought a lot of him and when things fall right he is very good.
However, he has never managed to put two performances back-to-back and I have a feeling he was very forward for his seasonal debut. He has the form to win this but something is telling me to avoid.
Convey (13/2 BetVictor) was a talking horse from the Stoute yard last season and after making his belated return at Goodwood he was disappointing. Last time out at York he showed a glimpse of his talent and he looks like he has learned what racing is about.
I firmly believe he will develop in to a Group horse in time, however he still requires much more to figure here.
The David O'Meara-trained So Beloved (9/2 Ladbrokes) was a busy horse last season racing nine times and he showed the benefit of his winter rest with a tremendous win last time out.
He was an impressive winner of a listed race over course and distance where he travelled supremely well throughout, and with the likely fast pace here bound to suit, I see him as a solid bet.
Though the favourite will be hard to beat, I think So Beloved still has some room for improvement and his yard are masters at squeezing every little bit out of their inmates.
Sandy Lane Stakes | 3.45 Haydock | Channel 4
The Sandy Lane Stakes is a six-furlong race for three-year-olds and the winner here is likely to be vying for favouritism in the Coronation Cup at Royal Ascot.
La Rioja (13/2 Paddy Power) was a top juvenile last season and on her final start she was a most impressive winner of a Salisbury Group 3. Though that wasn't a particularly strong race she couldn't have been anymore impressive and is interesting on her return.
However, I'm not overly excited by her as her trainer is struggling for winners and her pedigree suggests she may have been at her best at two. I may well be wrong but I think she is opposable and despite being interesting I'm against her.
Buratino (11/2 Bet365) was amongst the best juveniles around last season and despite his poor return last month, he is still a talented young horse.
He was disappointing in the 2000 Guineas but it is possible he will improve for the return to sprinting and he's not written off just yet. However, he has a penalty to contend with here and I want to see what he does before backing him in the future.
I'm a huge fan of Gifted Master (7/4 BetVictor) and I still think he is one of the most underrated horses around. He is incredibly versatile trip-wise and is as game as they come.
Every time he lines up he is expected to be found out but he continually improves and I expect him to do so again.
He will jump out and attempt to make all, and despite the step up in grade, he is the most likely winner in my eyes. I expect him to win here and progress to Royal Ascot.