Neil Morrice brings us his best bets and tips for Saturday’s racing from Epsom, Doncaster, Worcester, Lingfield Park and Chepstow.
Race 2 Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Group 3)
Trainer: Mick Channon – Jockey: Edward Greatrex
ILLYKATO was slower in coming to hand after a late return to training from her winter break. However, she suddenly started to flourish and gamely got up on the line to deny Agincourt on her first attempt at this mile in a Listed race at Goodwood. She’s looked accomplished in her subsequent work, and another big run is on the cards.
Race 3 Cazoo Diomed Stakes (Group 3)
No9 MAXIMAL (Nap)
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute – Jockey: Ryan Moore
It’s hard to run your pen through any of these but MAXIMAL is one that holds strong in the grand scheme of things. The relative of Frankel has largely frustrated his followers to date, with just one win in a Sandown novice, but a couple of recent near misses indicate he’s probably on the improve, and capable of taking out a race of this nature. He certainly has the balance and brawn to handle the undulations.
Race 5 CAZOO DERBY (Group 1)
No5 JOHN LEEPER
Trainer: Ed Dunlop – Jockey: Frankie Dettori
As far as the bookies are concerned, Aidan O’Brien’s decision to make Bolshoi Ballet his only runner in the Premier Classic is as big a pointer towards that colt’s chance of victory as is possible to obtain. Why is the master of Ballydoyle relying on a single horse out of his plethora of options in this attempt to plunder the contest for a ninth time? Surely he sees the impressive winner of back-to-back trials in Ireland as the perfect specimen for the job? Well of course he does, but against that can he have a direct line to the abilities of a handful of potential dangers? Probably not. So bring on the main opposition – Mac Swiney was good in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and his trainer knows how to get the job done here. Hurricane Lane remained unbeaten when passing the York Dante Stakes test in style and is surely going to be a big player for Godolphin. But the one that has the best pedigree for the job, as well as remaining more of an unknown quantity, is the Ed Dunlop-trained JOHN LEEPER.
As a son of the world’s greatest ever horse, Frankel out of Oaks, Irish Oaks and multiple Group 1 winner Snow Fairy, who Dunlop trained, John Leeper has been hugely impressive in taking out a Newcastle novice and a Listed race at Newmarket. He then delighted connections in a gallop around these unique cambers. And he has Frankie Dettori in the irons. He’s done everything right so far, making him more alluring than most recent English-trained runners in the race. He is named after his trainer’s late father John Leeper Dunlop, but it is not through sentiment that I think this colt can provide British racing and its most coveted prize with a much-needed shot in the arm. Come on JOHN LEEPER!!
Prediction: 1st JOHN LEEPER 2nd Bolshoi Ballet 3rd Mac Swiney 4th Hurricane Lane
Race 3 No4 HASTY SAILOR (Nap)
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute – Jockey: Kieran Shoemark
Stoute trained HASTY SAILOR with the future in mind when giving him just three outings last season. The gelding came back from a wind op to easily open his account on handicap debut at Lingfield in November and has been working well ahead of this belated return to action.
Race 4 No1 DANCING KING
Trainer: Mark Johnston – Jockey: Franny Norton
This is an ultra-hot three-year-old only handicap but one DANCING KING can claim as a fourth success from as many outings this year. The Free Eagle gelding has delivered by an aggregate of almost 15 lengths, and such dominance strongly suggests there’s more in his locker.
Race 6 No5 MAHALE
Trainer: Mick Channon – Jockey: David Probert
Perennial bridesmaid MAHALE can beat Never Say Never and post an overdue first career success. She’s finished second three times in a busy campaign, but in spite of her diminutive size, she’s taking it all in her stride and has a good chance to end her frustrating hoodoo.
Race 1 No2 MILL GREEN
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Henderson has his team back in the groove at a time when he might normally be quiet. By his high standards, last winter wasn’t one of his best, but the summer jumpers can’t do a thing wrong. MILL GREEN showed good track craft to score on his second outing over fences at Ffos Las, and will probably enjoy this slightly easier course even more.
Race 3 No6 SHAREEF STAR (Nap)
Trainer: Peter Bowen – Jockey: James Bowen
SHAREEF STAR is a horse on the march, and one that should make his presence felt in this class hop after a couple of cosy successes at this course and Fontwell. Underfoot conditions are ideal for him while his trainer is amongst the winners.
Race 2 No4 DEGREE
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute – Jockey: Richard Kingscote
There’s not a better-bred filly in action in England today than DEGREE, a daughter of Dubawi out of Group 1 winner Echelon. Everything is right for the Wolverhampton novice winner but for a horrible draw. If her pilot can obtain a handy position with cover, she can get the better of fellow previous winners Silent Escape and Rikknah.
Race 3 No4 BURTONLODGE BEAUTY
Trainer: Mick Channon – Jockey: Nicola Currie
BURTONLODGE BEAUTY skipped an opportunity the other day to wait for better ground and that should be in evidence here. The speedily-bred filly wasn’t beaten far, even though out of the money on debut at Wolverhampton, and like so many from this stable, she will come on a bundle for it.
Race 6 No3 STEEL AN ICON (Nap)
Trainer: Mick Channon – Jockey: George Bass
STEEL AN ICON benefited from an enterprising ride to get the job done in an apprentices’ race at Leicester earlier in the week. She escapes a penalty for that game success, and as this is only her fourth run in a handicap there should be more to come from the Sixties Icon filly.
Race 2 No6 MOONRAKER (Nap)
Trainer: Mike Appleby – Jockey: Theodore Ladd
MOONRAKER showed he was back in the zone when comfortably taking out a Class 6 on the Southwell Fibresand at the end of April. He hasn’t won on turf for more than three years but does at least go into battle on the back of a confidence boost.
Place Accumulater Perm (Races 1-7)
3, 1, 12 x 6, 1 x 1 x 4, 7, 10 x 1, 3, 4 x 6 x 4