Goodwood Festival Tips: Kevin Blake backs Meraas to rise to the occasion

Kevin Blake
Both of Kevin Blake's Saturday picks will be ridden by Ryan Moore

Kevin Blake recommends two bets for the final day at Goodwood including a pacey four-year-old in the weekend's main event - the Stewards' Cup...

"With My Frankel’s connections now knowing how best to get him to relax, he looks ready for the step up to this longer trip."

Back My Frankel win and place in the 14:30 at Goodwood @ 6.511/2

After a wonderful week of racing, the Qatar Goodwood Festival will draw to a close on Saturday. With a bit of luck, we'll hopefully be able to finish it on a high land by landing a winner or two.

The first race of interest is the Summer Handicap (14:30) and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained My Frankel is the one that I'm siding with.

Ready to relax and run a big race

The four-year-old has a progressive profile in the main, but hit a bump in the road when disappointing in a handicap at York on his penultimate start after racing too freely in a prominent position.

His connections set out to make sure he did things the right way on his latest start in the valuable Old Newton Cup at Haydock, with him being buried into cover from a wide draw. The quieter ride certainly seemed to help him relax better and it translated into a strong finishing effort that saw him finish a never-nearer third to Alounak.

With My Frankel's connections now knowing how best to get him to relax, he looks ready for the step up to this longer trip. He has always hinted that his future could be over staying trips and now looks the right time to have a crack at it. This track should be fine for him and he can be expected to run a big race.

Johnston's sprinter can push rivals all the way

The Unibet Stewards' Cup (15:40) is the main event of the entire weekend and is renowned as one of the most fiercely-competitive handicaps in the entire British racing calendar. As always, there will be a great amount of focus on the draw, but my main interest in where the pace will be.

The way I see it, the best quality early pace is drawn towards both extremities, so my inclination is to favour those drawn more so towards the wings than the middle. In fact, my preference is for one of those likely pace pushers in the shape of the Mark Johnston-trained Meraas.

The four-year-old did an awful lot in a very short space of time last season, making the running and finishing sixth in this race off a mark of 103 on what was just his sixth career start and less than five months into his Covid-interrupted racing career. That effort stamped him as a smart sprinter in the making, but he has hit a couple of bumps since then and had a breathing operation over the winter.

While his two runs this season have been short of his best, one suspects his connections may well have had this race in mind for him all season. He is drawn high and might well be able to get the lead to himself to some extent. If he isn't hassled too much, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him run a big race.

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