The weather is set fine and for those 5-day weekers amongst you, it’s a Bank Holiday Monday, happy days!
The big meetings come thick and fast at this time of year and this weekend is no different with top-class racing at Haydock, Goodwood, York and the Curragh, plus a Group One out in France that I have had to get involved with; busy, busy, busy 24/7 here at Triple G Towers.
Down at Goodwood at 1:55 they face 1m2f for the Listed Betfair Best Odds On ITV Races Festival Stakes. Thundering Blue is top rated but was never involved in the G.3 Gordon Richards Stakes recently and has a 5 lb penalty to shoulder. Vintager has put in some fair efforts without winning over shorter and the Charlie Appleby trained roan is fancied to get back to winning ways off the back of a cracking effort under top-weight in a handicap at HQ last time. You can get 11-4.
Calyx looks set to put his unbeaten record on the line in the 6f Group Two Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at 3.25 up at Haydock and is long odds-on to remain unbeaten. The son of Kingman is already the general 5-4 favourite for the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and I have taken a bit of that as when he wins here – I am that confident – he will be odds-on for the Royal Meeting in the blink of an eye. I am of course a fan, he is in my Dirty Dozen for the season, and I always thought sprinting would be his game. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah said earlier this week "He's always had considerable talent and it was nice to see him quicken up like he did at Ascot, especially after his injury. He's a powerful horse who seems to take his racing well. The Commonwealth Cup is the plan, as he shows considerable speed, but we haven't ruled out looking at a mile later in the year.”
Back to the Sussex downs for the 1m4f Listed Bet Your Way On The Betfair Exchange Tapster Stakes at 3.40. Mirage Dancer is head and shoulders above this line-up on paper and is expected to kick-off his 2019 campaign with a win. An ambitious tilt at the G.1 Hong Kong Vase didn’t pay off in December but a return to the scene of his G.3 Glorious Stakes victory last summer sill suit. Grab the 11-10 if you can.
The feature race at Haydock for is the Group Two Temple Stakes at 4.00 over 5f, in which last year's winner Battaash, Kachy and Mabs Cross will do battle. Battaash can be breathtaking, won this with a penalty on his reappearance last season and doesn't have one this time around, but he can run a stinker as well – was turned over a short odds twice last back end. What Battaash will show-up? Kachy was just a neck behind him in third last season in this and has been a revelation on the All-Weather this winter following wind surgery. At 4-1, with match fitness on his side, I have taken a chance. "Kachy is in good form and the target is the Temple Stakes," said trainer Tom Dascombe earlier this week. "He's been a better horse this year. He ran at Lingfield off his highest-ever rating and everything about him makes you think he's improved. He ran well in the Temple Stakes last year when he was beaten a head and a neck and we're hopeful of another good performance. He's entered in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee and King's Stand at Royal Ascot and we'll see how he gets on at Haydock before making any plans."
At 4.35 it is the Listed 6f EBF British Stallion Studs Cecil Frail. Signora Cabello found Group One company a bit too hot at the end of last season but she did, of course, win a couple of G.2’s. No match for Calyx in the G.3 Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes recently there was no disgrace in finishing 4th and with the weight for age allowance against her main rivals here I think she can take this. Grab a bit of the 3-1 at Coral.
Across the Irish Sea it’s Guineas weekend at the Curragh. On Saturday it’s the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Too Darn Hot will be out to show everyone what might have been facing off with Qipco 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia at 3.35. The Gosden colt owes me having been my Derby punt but he aint going there now so hopefully, I’ll be getting that back as I am on at 6-4 for this.
On Sunday at 4.25 the fillies take their turn for the Irish 1000 Guineas. Qabala goes against 1,000 Guineas heroine Hermosa again for their rematch in the Irish version with connections hopeful she can break the dominance of Aidan O’Brien in the Classics thus far. I think Qabala was perhaps given a little too much to do at HQ and might be able to get the job done this time. It’s her first race away from Newmarket so hopefully, she will travel well, I have the 5-2. Aidan O’Brien has four runners as he bids for a record eighth victory in the race with Hermosa trying to become only the fourth filly to complete the English and Irish 1000 Guineas double.
Charlie Appleby confirmed earlier this week that Wild Illusion will make her seasonal reappearance in the Group One Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp this Sunday. She has, of course, had a fair bit of success across the Channel and I have a bit of the 11-4 with Hills about her making a winning seasonal reappearance.