No trainer has been in better form on the flat than John Gosden but one of his runners yet to live up to expectations is Invisible Man who was a beaten favourite when making his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket. He does have a question or two to answer now but over a furlong further in the Haydock 7.40 tomorrow I will give him another chance.
I did well last season following trainer Michael Dods. He saddles Hey Up Dad tomorrow in the Haydock 8.10 and this 3 year old by Fantastic Light looks to be on a reasonable handicap mark after just two runs last season. Hey Up Dad won on his second outing last season in heavy ground at Ayr so we don’t really know if he will handle the very different conditions he is likely to face at Haydock which would temper my enthusiasm a little. Another interesting runner in this race is Petella, trained by Chris Thornton and a full sister to the stable’s stayer Lets Roll. Campaigned over 6 furlongs as a juvenile this filly should appreciate the step up in trip.
The Leicester 3.05 features some nice types and although there are only 4 runners it is still a tricky puzzle. The likely favourite is John Gosden’s Lively Fling, a winner last month over course and distance. The runner up that day has since been beaten though. Orbitor has also had a run this season finishing 3rd in a Doncasterwa handicap having won at Great Leighs last October. He ran over 10 furlongs at Doncaster and may well improve for the extra distance tomorrow. Alcalde won both his starts as a 2 year old and as a half brother to the useful Alambic he is another that should be suited by the trip. This is a difficult race to assess but Alcalde may prove a tough nut to crack in typical Mark Johnston style.
Tiger Flash has shown promise in both his starts to date and looks the one to beat in the 4.45.
American Trilogy was one of the easiest winners at the Cheltenham Festival and was then only narrowly beaten at Aintree. If he has recovered from these exertions he will be hard to beat in the Sandown 1.35. At a bigger price, Songe, a game winner at Haydock on good ground in January could also go well.
Callisto Moon hasn’t won since November 2007 and as a result his handicap rating has come down. He handles fast ground and is fit from runs on the flat. He could be a live outsider in the 2.05. Another to consider is Sangfroid who fell last time out when holding every chance. Before that he had been runner up to Silk Affair who went on to win the Fred Winter at Cheltenham.
Kalahari King has done nothing wrong this season and although he faces serious opposition from a battalion of Paul Nicholls runners he has the class and can score in the 2.35.
I don’t have a strong fancy for the 3.10 but if pushed for a selection I would go with Hoo La Baloo who will be suited by track and ground and has been aimed at the race. Of the outsiders Always Waining makes some appeal.
The 3.45 looks to be between Paco Boy, Virtual and Dream Eater. The latter was 5th in the Guineas last season and should come on a bundle for his recent run at Warwick. Paco Boy is a high class individual who won the Prix De La Foret at Longchamp last October. He is yet to win over a mile however and I marginally prefer Virtual who won his last 3 races in 2008, looks a most progressive sort and will be suited by the stiff mile.
Virtual is trained by John Gosden who has Pipedreamer in the 4.15. He will be suited by the fast ground and holds a sound chance but for my selection I will side with Tartan Bearer who is the class act in the race having been placed in both English and Irish Derbies last year.
Wells Lyrical is a horse I am looking forward to this season. He was an improver last year winning each of his last 3 starts. He runs in the 3.30 at Ripon tomorrow but I will not burden him with my selection as he really needs some cut in the ground and will not be ideally suited to fast going. He is one to watch though.
At Wolverhampton the well bred Free Falling may be better than her modest handicap mark and is one to look out for in the 8.20.
Today’s pictures are by kind permission of the artist Karen Davies.