Saturday ITV Racing Tips: Soldier and Hall to battle for us at Newmarket
It's no high-class affair on Saturday as we build towards Royal Ascot, but there's still plenty of competitive action for our top tipster Tony Calvin to mull over...
"You would imagine stablemate Addicted To Love will go from the front here - the only other pace angle in the race is Mark Hopkins - but if Soldier In Action can sit handy then he could just surprise."
I found it very hard work to come up with any bets for Saturday, which was a touch disappointing given that ITV4 are featuring some decent racing from three tracks - though I am not suggesting it is high-class fare by any means - but let's start at Haydock and see where that takes us.
Youmzain just gets the nod in trappy opener
The opener at 14:15 cut up from 18 entries at the five-day stage to just six runners - and two of the sextet, Morning Skye and Jack Regan, were only added in after the race was re-opened at 10am on Thursday morning and held other engagements before the weekend, too (so they could well be non-runners by the time you read this) - but it hasn't made it that much easier to solve.
Sea Youmzain is the sole representative of Mark Johnston and that could be significant, as the trainer had five in here on Monday and four of those were last-time-out winners.
She did really well to win over 1m2f at Nottingham considering she missed the break, and the step up to 1m4f is expected to suit this daughter of Sea The Stars.
A 6lb rise may not stop her, but I wouldn't be betting on it.
Star Of Southwold is well-handicapped on his impressive Newmarket success from a subsequent winner, Night Story may not have been ideally positioned on the track when fifth at Newbury last time, and Podemos looks fairly-treated on his Chepstow second last time.
If you want a bet than Sea Youmzain would just about be my selection - and expect her to go from the front this time, as that was apparently the plan before she missed the kick at Nottingham - but it isn't a betting race for me.
Solid fav but German raider could be a danger
It is not often a 2/1 favourite in a nine-runner race is in danger of getting my cash, but God Given really does fit the bill in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at 14:50.
She is a course-and-distance winner and was a very progressive filly last season, and she apparently wasn't helped by an overly-strong pace (which suited the hold-up horses) when stepping up to Group 1 level in the Vermeille.
She was thought to need the run at Ascot on her reappearance, and was ridden accordingly from the front (wasn't touched by the whip), but even the bare form of her fourth to Barsanti there gives her winning claims.
The runner-up Mirage Dancer won a Listed race at Goodwood by three lengths next time, and everyone saw how well the third home, Salouen, ran when just touched off in the Coronation Cup.
I know they have watered at Haydock but really quick ground would be a worry for me - although it sounds like connections aren't that concerned, and they watered 10mm on Wednesday and Friday - and that is enough to put me off at the price, as well as the fact that she will get pressure on the front end from Titi Makfi.
I do think she will take a lot of stopping, though the German mare Fosun could prove troublesome, even if she maybe would want it easier, too.
Markus Klug sent over Windstoss to finish third at Epsom last week, had a recent Group 3 winner and his Dschingis Secret chased home Waldgeist in a Group 2 at Chantilly on Sunday, so the stable is in fair nick.
I wouldn't profess to know too much about German form - or insult you by pretending to - but she won on her reappearance last month and has just 5lb to find with the favourite on official ratings. She opened up at 12/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook on Thursday afternoon, and that was big.
Track concerns for Muthmir?
I was in a similar dilemma in the 15:25 which Muthmir would win if showing anything like the dash he showed when fourth in the King's Stand last season.
He was rated 114 after that Ascot performance, and he is a class above this grade when on song, as evidenced by his three Group 2 wins. And it looks like he will get the rattling fast ground that he loves.
He was very tempting at around the 3/1 mark but the problem is that he may be on the slide now as an 8yo, and he should have run better than he did in the Temple Stakes here last time, for all it was a pretty messy race. It had me wondering whether he likes the track.
If he doesn't win, then all bar one or two can, so I just can't get involved.
The John Of Gaunt Stakes at 16:00 is a real tight-knit affair, with the four principals split by only 3lb on official ratings, and it is 16/1+ bar that imposing quartet.
Of the outsiders Larchmont Lad is most interesting in first-time cheekpieces at around 20/1, but Dbai is the one I most like at the top of the market.
He ran a quick time over an inadequate 6f when chasing home a Group 1 winner in The Tin Man at Windsor last time, and obviously the step up in trip will suit him. However, odds of around 9/2 don't really scream "bet" to me in a race of this nature.
Scottish Sprint Cup looks a bit of a minefield
Over at Musselburgh, I wouldn't have any problem with Reverend Jacobs and Western Duke dominating the betting in the opener at 13:55. And I think the market has it right in comfortably favouring the former.
He was given a great ride from the front when beating two progressive rivals at York last time, and similarly pressing tactics (if Lycidas is seen off for the lead, that is) could see him defy an 8lb rise in the weights. At odds of around 5/4, I can let him go, though.
It normally has paid to be drawn high and near the rail down in the Scottish Sprint Cup at 14:30, though there have been winners berthed in one, three and eight in the last five years and there is a fair bit of pace drawn low here.
It looks an absolute minefield to me, though Line Of Reason has to be of major interest.
He won this race last season off a 7lb higher mark and has found himself going down the weights as his performances have improved this season, most recently when seventh to El Astronaute at York.
But I could sit here and make out equally convincing cases for his 15 rivals, possibly chief among them Orion's Bow if you forgive him a blow-out last time, and I won't be betting in the race.
Can't put you off well-handicapped Manor
In Newmarket's 7f handicap at 15:05 Georgian Manor could be thrown in off a mark of 87.
He won easily at Beverley last time but it is his earlier second to Emblazoned which suggests the handicapper has been kind.
I know the heavy odds-on winner has obviously improved since - and the horses immediately in behind at Lingfield have done little since - but Georgian Manor ran him to a nose off levels and Emblazoned is now rated 106 after finishing third in the Group 2 Sandy Lane at Haydock. I couldn't put you off him, even at around 3/1.
Elsewhere in the race, I thought Rufus King could get the run of the race from the front - he didn't manage to get on the lead at Epsom last week, and the market definitely predicted his winning stablemate would - and I actually tipped Fake News when he was pulled out of Musselburgh in March on account of the heavy ground.
No such problems here and he is a horse I like, but it is a little bit worrying we haven't seen him since and I am not a massive fan of the jockey, who is operating at just 5% this season, either.
Two to go to war with in competitive handicap
Fear not, though, as I have bets in the final race I am covering, courtesy of outsiders Great Hall and Soldier In Action in the 15:40.
Great Hall caught my eye staying on really well into seventh at Epsom on Saturday, and the combination of an extra 2f and an easing of 1lb in the weights, allied to his price, seals my involvement.
He would prefer a bit more ease in the ground - indeed, his trainer is adamant he wants it soft - but the form book confirms he can handle it quick and he has won on this course. And, anyway, Newmarket put 10mm of water on the course on Monday and Wednesday, with a similar amount due to go on today (Friday), so it won't be lightning fast.
Back him at [34.0] or bigger.
Mark Johnston has the obvious favourite in here with Addicted To Love, but his Soldier In Action is no 20/1+ poke.
He actually finished ½ length and a place behind Great Hall at Epsom at the weekend, his rider allowing him to coast home in the final furlong.
He was held up there and is usually best when adopting a more prominent role, but he showed more patient tactics could work when winning off a 5lb higher mark at Goodwood last season.
You would imagine stablemate Addicted To Love will go from the front here - the only other pace angle in the race is Mark Hopkins - but if Soldier In Action can sit handy then he could just surprise.
He is another who ideally may prefer more ease (30mm is a lot of water, though) but he ran well on quick ground when second at Haydock last season, he sees this 1m6f trip out well, and has come down 7lb in the weights this season. His jockey Jack Mitchell's confidence must be on a high after his treble at Wolverhampton on Wednesday.
Tony's P/L - April 14 2017 to June 2018 inclusive
*ITV races only, settled to Betfair SP, not recommended/guide prices
Back Soldier In Action at [21.0] or bigger in 15:40 at Newmarket
Back Great Hall at [34.0] or bigger in 15:40 at Newmarket