It's an eclectic mix this weekend from me with bets running in Surrey at Lingfield Park and out in Saudi Arabia at Riyadh – just the 3,800 miles or so separates to two tracks. Luckily both meetings are on Sky Racing for us here in the UK.
Best bet for the horse racing at Lingfield Park
The Listed 5f Betway Hever Sprint Stakes at 1.30 isn’t perhaps the best renewal of the race but there is three or four quite closely matched so it should still be a competitive race. Lord Riddiford won it last year and has a nice pipe-opener at Wolverhampton earlier this month finishing third giving away 9lb+ in the handicap to the rest of the field. Exalted Angel is officially top-rated and certainly didn’t have the clearest of runs in the Listed Kachy Stakes over six here last time. He was beaten by Tone The Barone last time they met up at Wolverhampton in December over the 5f there but he was giving away 8lb that day and also finished second to Mondammej before that, but once again he was giving away 8lb. Off levels here I think he can reverse the form pf the two Wolverhampton races and should have too much for Lord Riddiford. Drawn in three he can get the perfect spot just behind likely earlier leader One Night Stand before swooping in the final furlong. I have the 11-4 with Hills overnight. Trainer Karl Burke “Exalted Angel is really well and I think I have got him in the best form I have ever had him in at the moment."
I put up my bet for the Group Three Winter Derby over 1m2f, due off at 2.05, on Monday when I snaffled the Evens about Lord North with Hills. The six-year-old is a good half-a-stone better than anything else lining-up officially and has won more than once when fresh so the fact he hasn’t been seen in just shy of eleven months isn’t that much of a concern. The plan is still to return to Dubai and I would expect defend the G.1 Dubai Turf crown he won last March and though this is a ‘warm-up’ for use of a better term he should still win. I am more than happy with the bet. I was happy to note Rab Havlin is upbeat about his chances talking to Sky Racing in the week “He hasn’t run for a long time but he’s been training well, so hopefully with no penalty he should have a big run............We took him out on the grass for the first time the other day, he seemed to enjoy that and while he won’t be 100 per cent, he shouldn’t have to be if he’s back on song.” As I said on Monday Alenquer is the danger but he will need to improve on anything he has done so far and truth be told would need the jolly to falter to be able to beat him surely.
King Of Time had a couple of entries this week and Charlie Appleby has sent the three-year-old colt to Lingfield to make his debut, rather than a trip to Southwell in the week, in the 1m Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Novice Stakes at 4.20. By Kingman out of the mare Lombatina he is a half-brother to four winners the best being the filly Agrotera who won some nice prizes in her time. Breeding suggests he should have been a decent two-year-old, sire and dam were both winners at two as were grandsires Invincible Spirit and Kings Best, so it is perhaps surprising he isn’t making debut until the age of three. I think he can make up for lost time and get off the mark at the first attempt and I am on at 2-1 with Hills. I thought Dubai Leader, who would also have been making debut, may have been a danger but that colt doesn’t run leaving the once raced winner Borgi the obvious threat but he has to give the selection 5lb and those he beat a Southwell are little more than average 60-70 rated handicappers.
Best bet for the horse racing at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia
There is plenty of prize-money up for grabs at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack including of course the world’s richest horse race, the $20m Saudi Cup. William Buick misses the meeting, and a few good rides, having tested positive for covid in Dubai whilst trainer William Muir, whose Pyledriver goes in Group Three Neom Turf Cup, has stayed at home in Lambourn having also tested positive. I fancy four and I am on with Paddy Power overnight for all four bets.
They get underway at 12.45 our time with the 1m2½f Group Three Neom Turf Cup on the Inner Turf Track. Authority and Pyledriver head the market but both are dropping back in trip for this and I wonder if they may get caught our for a bit of pace here. Solid Stone finished last season with a couple of good wins in Group Three company, ten furlongs appears to be her ideal trip and firmish underhoof conditions are fine. Her win at Windsor beating Fancy Man, Harrovian and Bangkok being particularly pleasing as she really had to battle there. At 8-1 she is worth a punt to take on the two market leaders.
I simply have to back Naval Crown for the Group Three 1351 Cup Turf Sprint at 1.25 over the 7f. Stall 14 is a concern but he showed his well-being winning the G.2 7f Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan recently (I tipped him) and all being well he can burst out the stalls and get across. He stays slightly further but has plenty of pace and I would expect to see him stretch a few of these turning from home all being well. I have the 5-2.
The Group Three The Saudi Derby Cup Presented By Al Rajhi is due off at 4.05 on the Dirt Track. I am a fan of Noble Truth and Charlie Appleby appears to have no concerns about running him and Sovereign Prince on the dirt for the first time. The trainer said recently “Sure, they have never raced on dirt before but judging by what we have seen in their gallops at home, they will have no problems handling it. They have been training on the Marmoom track in Dubai, which has a surface very similar to what they will experience in Saudi. I’m very happy the way they have been training on it.” Pinehurst won the 7f G.1 Del Mar Futurity last season and has that top-level Dirt track form in had favour but at a price of 6-1 I am taking a chance Noble Truth goes on the Dirt as if he does he could well be good enough to win this. Appleby added talking about the selection “He was sent to Dubai in November purposely to be aimed at the Saudi Derby, and if he brings his best two-year-old form to the race, he’ll be a very live contender. He’s adapted well since embarking on a more American-style training programme in Dubai since travelling over.”
The big one is due off at 5.35 the Group One 1m1f Saudi Cup on the Dirt. Mishriff of course won this contest last year but I feel the race played into his hands with Charlatan and Knicks Go going too fast early, he has also been drawn in the car park this year in stall fourteen. I really quite like the chances of Mandaloun who was finally officially names as the winner of the 1m2f G.1 Kentucky Derby victory this week when Medina Spirit was officially throw-out. Nine-furlongs on dirt is his game, whilst breaking from stall six he should be able to track the early pace before kicking clear up the straight. I have the 7-2.