Horse Racing Tips

Mark Milligan's Big Race Verdict: Back Noble Dynasty to win John Of Gaunt for Godolphin

Horse racing at Haydock
Haydock stages the big race on Saturday in the John Of Gaunt Stakes

Mark Milligan has looked at Saturday's John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock and expects Godolphin to take the prize...

  • Mark Milligan is back with his Big Race Verdict

  • Godolphin runner fancied

  • Locking form should hold up

On one of the lower-key Saturday's in the flat racing calendar, Haydock takes centre stage on Saturday, where the 7f Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes (15:35) is the highlight.

A race first run all the way back in 1986, it was upgraded from Listed to Group 3 status in 2008, with Richard Hannon snr and Ryan Moore scooping the prize with Major Cadeaux.

That was the first of a hat-trick of successes for Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore, who took the contest for the next two years on board Main Aim for Sir Michael Stoute.

This year we also have the last two winners of the contest back to try and claim the prize once more in the shape of Eve Johnson Houghton's Jumpy and Charlie Hills' Pogo.

How will the race be run?

The pace breakdown of this race makes for interesting reading, with Timeform suggesting the pace will be very strong based on the pace maps they produce.

Looking through the run styles of several of the contenders, it's hard to argue with that suggestion.

Timeform produce early position figures for all the races they report on and assign each horse a number based on where they raced, with one being the leader, before going all the way down to five, meaning raced in rear.

With the trio of Pogo, Point Lynas and Quinault all registering ones on the majority of their most recent starts, there'll be few hiding places if the race plays out as it looks on paper.

We also have to factor in Flight Plan and Nobel Dynasty when looking at the pace, though both their run styles appear more adaptable.

Noble Dynasty a key player

Charlie Appleby's Noble Dynasty heads the market at the time of writing, and he looked better than ever when winning a Newmarket handicap last time, that coming after a reappearance at Meydan where he was returning from 16 months off.

There have been plenty of expectations for this one from the moment he first hit the track, as you'd expect for one who cost £3.6m and is a half-brother to the stable's Group 1 winner Barney Roy.

Clearly it hasn't all been plain sailing given the big absence he had between late-2022 and early-2024, but his Newmarket win suggests he's firmly back on the right track now.

That Newmarket form was also given a boost when the runner-up came out and won next time.
With William Buick away in the USA, Pat Dobbs takes over on Noble Dynasty.

The main dangers

While Noble Dynasty is stepping back up in class, there are a couple making moves in the opposite direction, with Lockinge form represented by Witch Hunter and Flight Plan.

Witch Hunter was third to surprise winner Audience there, though whether that form can be taken completely at face value remains to be seen.

However, he's a solid operator at this sort of level and in high-end handicaps, winning both the Group 2 Hungerford at Newbury and the Buckingham Place Stakes at Royal Ascot last season.

While Witch Hunter was a long way in front of Flight Plan in the Lockinge, I'm expecting a much bigger run from the latter this time around.

Karl Burke's four-year-old is still relatively lightly raced and he looked like he blew up at Newbury returning from eight months off.

Some of his form last season is amongst the best on offer in here, particularly his win in Group 2 company at Leopardstown on his final start.

He should run much better this time around.

Pop Master, Ramazan and Tiber Flow are others to consider in what looks a very competitive race for the grade, though the last named needs to prove he's over a nasty incident at Newcastle last time where he clipped heels and came down.

John Of Gaunt Stakes verdict

With the pace forecast a strong one, I'm not expecting Noble Dynasty to be on the lead this time, and a more patient approach from Dobbs may well see this well-bred type follow up from last time.

He's still relatively low mileage and has the potential to be even better than this grade in time.

I expect the Lockinge form to hold up well, too, though it would be no surprise if Flight Plan turns the tables on Witch Hunter now he's got a run under his belt.

He's another who's still relatively unexposed and I suspect he's much better than he was able to show at Newbury.

Ramazan is another worth an honourable mention, though whether he's quite at this level remains to be seen.

Now read more horse racing selections for this weekend.

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