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A solid staying contest gets us underway with some very strong form from Chester and there’s also a couple of runners down the bottom who have won 10 races between them, in pretty quick succession. Amtiyaz is completely unexposed unlike the bulk of his competition and steps onto the turf for only the second time in his career. He doesn’t appear to be at his ceiling rating yet and can have too much speed for these over the mile and six furlongs trip
Raatea has very low mileage for a four-year-old and was picked up at the horses-in-training sale by new connections for a fair amount of money, 42,000 guineas. They obviously feel he has an upside and judged on his first display for the new connections, they will be confident that he can continue to climb the ladder. Soft ground is an unknown, but may well bring about some improvement as his pedigree suggests. The 7f trip looks ideal.
Desert Encounter has been a superstar for connections down the years and showed that he is no back number when finishing second in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown recently. A small field means this should be a tactical race from a pace angle and that will suit him. He loves to drop in and travel in behind the leaders until being played very late in the day. Martin Harley will have to do his best Jamie Spencer impression and he’s not too bad at it either!
Dash of Spice is another who recently changed hands at the horses-in-training sale for £29,000. He already has a Royal Ascot success to his name and for a long time found himself badly handicapped up in triple digit figures. He now sits on a very attractive mark of just 93 and with the application of a hood to help him settle better, the step up in distance looks to bring about some more improvement for the new Andrew Keatley team who were in decent form at the Dante meeting.
Tribal Craft put up arguably her best performance last time in defeat at Ascot when seven lengths behind an emphatic winner. However, she was clearly second-best after travelling ominously well in behind and putting clear daylight between herself and the remainder of the field. She is not the best runner on official ratings but that may well prove that her current rating (96) underestimates her true ability. Stepping up in distance with some cut in the ground is going to see another improved display.
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Raadobarg didn’t really break sweat when winning at Thirsk last time under a double handful in the closing stages. It was always going to be difficult for the handicapper to get a realistic grip on his true potential and being handed a mark of 88 may well prove very lenient indeed. He’s already proven under quick and soft conditions and has a pedigree that I would expect to see him continue to improve throughout the season. It’s no straightforward penalty kick as Headingley looks to be at the top of a bunch of dangers. He threw away a winning opportunity at Goodwood when hanging badly left late on.
It’s going to take a massive performance for Battleground to bounce back to anything that would give him a realistic chance of winning the Irish 2000. However, the yard’s runners have been improving in massive amounts from their first to second racecourse appearance this season. Sir Lucan did so when winning at Naas and improving around 30lbs, so don’t underestimate the multiple champion trainer Aidan O’Brien pulling another rabbit out of the hat.
He was unlucky not to win the Breeders Cup juvenile last weekend and I’m going to forgive him one bad performance when the yard’s runners were woefully out of form.
Method was a rocket juvenile last season and it was the right move to keep him sprinting towards the back end of last year. The Martyn Meade’s yard’s runners have not needed their reappearance efforts so we can expect him to be fit and ready for the challenge, admittedly in hot company. His second behind Winter power in the Cornwallis Stakes at HQ last October, now looks so good with that runner putting up one of the performances of the week at York.
Method can stamp his credentials for the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting with victory here.
Mondammej was unlucky not to win last time over this course and distance and still looks ahead of the handicapper despite a 2lb rise. He is becoming a little bit more tractable in his races and was ridden with too much respect in the early stages last time. He still will be held up but the waiting tactics from the gate won’t be overdone this time. The forgotten runner in the lineup is Sunday Sovereign who has been dropped 5lbs and was not beaten too far by the selection last time. He may fly under the radar at each-way odds.
Liberty Beach has some top-class form behind the best sprinters in recent seasons at the highest level. We don’t have to worry too much about this being her reappearance as she has a very decent record when fresh. Added to that, this sprint is loaded with natural early pace. She is not one-dimensional in her run style so Jason Hart, has the luxury of being able to track a very strong pace. Que Amoro and Jabbarockie will be zipping along on the front end and she can be produced inside the last furlong to win, yet again, on her return to the racecourse.
Jason Weaver’s best bets for Saturday:
Goodwood 13:40 – Amtiyaz
Haydock 13:55 – Raatea
Goodwood 14:10 – Desert Encounter
Haydock 14:25 – Dash of Spice
York 14:40 – Tribal Craft
Haydock 15:00 – Raadobarg
Curragh 15:20 – Battleground
Haydock 15:35 – Method
York 15:50 – Mondammej
Haydock 16:10 – Liberty Beach
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