Find all previous Seymour Biz racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips
We’re off! Racing is back in the UK albeit behind closed doors and on a weekend when all roads should be leading to Epsom for the Derby we have yet to get the Guineas done and dusted.
We have lost the Craven meeting at Newmarket, the Greenham meeting at Newbury and the Bet365 meeting at Sandown so form is very hard to judge but as Tom Segal aka Pricewise states, trainers have had nothing else to do but get their charges into tip-top condition so every runner should be on their mettle. For this first weekend of the flat season we have two televised meetings, Newmarket and on the all-weather at Newcastle.
HQ has the Guineas meeting with the 2000 on Saturday which is flanked by some top-class contests such as the Palace House and Dahlia Stakes, while Gosforth Park runs the Sagaro Stakes which is rerouted from Sandown and they also have a couple of minor handicaps on the card. I have tried to find some value in the cards to try and bring a little happiness in these sad times and here are my thoughts in my first Lucky Fifteen for some time.
Beginning with the 2.05 at Newcastle we have the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap with John Gosden’s Daarik the current favourite. He was a well-beaten second here last time over a mile and reverts to 7f after that April defeat. He had won previously at Kempton over the shorter distance and was a winner here before that over 6f. Gosden has him as one of his a/w specialists and he is sure to run well but is poor value. Red Bond is a progressive sort and won by 8 lengths over a mile here in January but this is a major step up in class. Top weight Kaeso trained by Nigel Tinkler ran an excellent second in the top-class company last time at Ascot but that was almost 11 months ago and he has not been out since, he has a lot of weight and I am not sure he can carry that to victory. The one I like is Marco Botti’s Aljari who is well proven on the all-weather. He won last time out at Southwell in February having run too freely here at Newcastle prior to that. He ran a shocking race that day after ducking out at the start, he managed to get in touch but didn’t have enough left in the tank to stay in contention and was beaten less than 5 lengths, he can gain recompense for that run.
The Betway Sagaro Stakes is at 2.40 and there is a poor turnout for this prestigious 2 miler considering both owners and trainers have been crying out for racing for the past two months. Top of the betting is Charlie Appleby’s Ispolini who won a Group 3 race in Dortmund in September, but that was his only run since May after a successful winter in Saudi Arabia. Prince Of Arran runs for Charlie Fellowes and this well-travelled 7-year-old has been in some exalted company but has only has managed one victory in his last 12 starts despite his globetrotting.
However, at York last August he finished well in front of both Kings Advice and Withhold and the latter, already a Northumberland Plate winner in 2018, went on to win at Newmarket in September but was then behind Royal Line at Ascot in October and although Prince Of Arran had been third behind Royal Line at Kempton in September that was only over 1m 4f and the extra 4f will suit Fellowes charge and Prince Of Arran will have the class to take this.
Moving South to Newmarket at 1.50 we have the Betfair Backs Racing Welfare Palace House Stakes, a top-class 5f sprint. Major Jumbo is a course and distance winner who has been racing over 6f and drops back in trip here, he ran well for a long way in the Sprint Cup at Haydock last September before fading over the last furlong and was third in this race last year. Julie Camacho runs Judicial who is top class and a winner of three races last season but he is an 8-year-old now and there are up and coming younger challengers who may be too good for him here.
One of which could be Moss Gill from James Bethell’s yard who had a good season last year then came out in March and won comfortably at Wolverhampton. Another young horse with a bright future is Clive Cox’s Shades Of Blue who was only out of the frame once in seven starts last season but perhaps her time is to come. So I will side with Major Jumbo, just, he handles the going and the track and can improve on last year’s performance.
The first Classic of the season is at 3.35, the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes and Charlie Appleby’s Pinatubo has been the hot favourite for this for some time and everyone is excited to see him have his first run of the year. A winner of all six of his races last year, the latest of which was the Dewhurst here at Newmarket in October. The question is has he trained on? Other contestants may have got stronger over the winter including two of Aidan O’Brien’s top colts Arizona and Wichita.
The latter is my preference after his decisive victory here in September, he won’t want too much rain prior to the race as he prefers good going. Kameko is worth a mention after his victory in the Futurity which was run on the all-weather at Newcastle, trainer Andrew Balding has high hopes for his young colt after a fine first season.
A lively outsider is Roger Teal’s unbeaten Kenzai Warrior who won over 7f here in November, he could well make the frame at a nice price. But this race is about Pinatubo who will go off at a short price and trying to find a horse who can lower his colours is difficult, but that could well be Wichita giving O’Brien his fourth successive win in this big race.
Saturday Lucky Fifteen
- 2.05 Newcastle. Aljari
- 2.40 Newcastle. Prince Of Arran
- 1.50 Newmarket. Major Jumbo
- 3.35. Newmarket. Wichita