All six of Saturday's meetings here in the UK are on the Flat and Haydock Park tops the bill with a Listed race and two Group 3 heats. Across the pond in New York they have the Grade One Belmont Stakes at 10.37 our time; I am leaving it alone though. As for the best I have had.
The 1m4f Group Three Pinnacle Stakes is due off at Haydock at 2.25 and is the first race of interest to me. The mare True Self was in fine form at the end of last season when switched to the Flat by Willie Mullins and came out and won well on seasonal debut at Gowran Park last month a shade more comfortably than the ¾ length distance suggests. Three of her four wins have been on ground with the word soft in the description so the rain we are getting will be of little concern; soft as of Friday night up in Newton-le-Willows. She arrives here top-rated and is expected to take this to add to her three Listed wins. I have the 11-10 overnight.
Newmarket's July course hosts its first meeting of the year and I have one there. The going here is Good to firm Friday evening but will ease overnight with the rain about. The 2.45 at HQ is the 1m6f Bernard Sunley Memorial Handicap and this can go to Spirit Ridge. The 4yo was progressive last season, two wins over 1m4f, and blew away any cobwebs here on the Rowley Mile a month ago. The way he was tapped for toe when others went for home three out, but then stayed on in the final furlong of the 1m4f that day not knocked about, suggesting this step-up in trip would be ideal. Atzeni rides and at 6-1 the Khalid Abdullah owned gelding is fancied to get back to winning ways. What a Welcome has been climbing the ratings but has possibly been found out now.
Sir Dancealot was on my mind for the 7f Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes from Haydock at 3.35 but all this rain isn’t ideal – all his wins on good or good-firm. Safe Voyage, on the other hand, won’t mind getting his two in one bit, all bar one of his wins have come with the word soft in the going description, three of them over this track and trip. He likes to be held-up just off the pace and there are two or three in here that should give him a nice tow into the race. A seven-furlong specialist that likes soft underfoot conditions and has a cracking track record, get on at carpet 3-1.