We have some tremendous action to look forward to on ITV Racing on Saturday and Kevin Blake is keen on a couple of runners at Lingfield and Ascot...
"His middle draw will give his rider more options than most and it wouldn't surprise to see him run well at a big price."
The weather should be a key consideration when looking ahead to the racing this weekend, as a big, dirty, miserable band of rain is currently gathering in the Atlantic and is due to dump its substantial contents onto Ireland and Britain in the next 24 hours or so.
With many of the tracks already being on the soft side of good, we can expect the ground to be more like soft at best at the likes of Ascot and Lingfield which are the main focus of attention on ITV on Saturday.
Blues can produce a career-best performance
The Chartwell Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield (15:25) brings together an interesting bunch of fillies and the one I like is the Andrew Balding-trained Bounce The Blues.
The daughter of Excelebration progressed rapidly to win a Listed race at Naas when trained by Johnny Feane last year and was sold to join her current connections soon after. While she has yet to win in three starts for them, she has brought her form forward and shown significant promise.
Crucially, this is likely to be Bounce The Blue's first chance to run on rain-softened ground since joining Balding. She lifts her knees quite high and showed her best form for Johnny Feane on soft ground, so the change in surface could well help bring about a career-best performance.
This drop back to seven furlongs isn't a concern and the race should set up well for her towards the near side rail which is likely to be favoured on the day. She looks to have an excellent chance.
Softer surface and dropping turf mark make Soldier a bet
The big betting race of the weekend is the Victoria Cup at Ascot (15:40) and I'm going to have a swing at one at a wild price in the shape of the Archie Watson-trained Stone Soldier.
The four-year-old has found notable improvement since joining Watson late last year, winning three of his five starts with all of those wins coming at Southwell. Those performances have seen his all-weather mark rise from 80 to 100, but the handicapper gave him a chance back on turf by splitting his marks and allowing him to run off 91 in a seven-furlong handicap at Musselburgh last time. The ground was good on that occasion and that has never seemed to be to his liking, so it wasn't a surprise that he failed to capitalise on the opportunity.
The handicapper has dropped his turf rating by 3lb for that run and he is now 12lb lower on turf than the all-weather.
However, the return to this softer ground will be in his favour and could well be key. Of course, the fullness of time could well reveal that he is just a better horse on the fibresand at Southwell than elsewhere, but he is worth giving a chance to on this softer turf surface at the sort of price he is.
His middle draw will give his rider more options than most and it wouldn't surprise to see him run well at a big price.
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