On a Haydock card that also includes a race called the Achilles Stakes, it’s no surprise that the boffins upstairs have given GOD GIVEN the verdict in the opening ITV4 race at 14:50.
Known as the Pinnacle Stakes, the race has had more sponsors than Robert Downey Jnr, but has been won by some classy mares in recent years, notably Journey and Bateel, both of whom went on to win at the top level.
God Given chased home that pair in last year’s Prix Vermeille at Chantilly during a season in which she improved a lot, and this half-sister to the top-class Postponed looks sure to continue progressing as a four-year-old, especially now with a run under her belt. The dual listed winner Fosun, from the German stable of Markus Klug, is respected.
‘Klug’ in German translates to ‘clever’ or ‘smart’, and it’s the smart performer (on Timeform’s scale) FINAL VENTURE who is fancied to win the Achilles at 15:25. Last year’s winner is taken to successfully defend his crown after a cracking run in a hot big-field York handicap a fortnight ago. Alpha Delphini and Judicial were both placed in the Palace House and have leading claims on that form, while Muthmir is the class act but needs to step up on the figures he’s posted in two runs this year – he’s in danger of becoming more disappointing than a shopping trip down the High Street.
Seven-furlong horses can endure rather nomadic campaigns, venturing to Ireland, France and beyond in search of their optimum conditions. This weekend, they head to Haydock for an open-looking renewal of the Group 3 John of Gaunt Stakes (16:00), featuring a mix of battle-hardened older campaigners and relatively unexposed four-year-olds.
One of those is EMMAUS, who hasn’t made the track often, but left the impression he could develop into a high-class miler when making a winning return at Leicester. Tabarrak and Dutch Connection are respected, especially the latter who normally runs in a higher grade; he could be the equivalent of when Paul Merson kept League One club Walsall in the league, rather than when Edgar Davids tried to kick people for Barnet.
Finally, MICKEY was more cartoon mouse than racehorse when well beaten at Chester last month, but he quickly dispelled that blip with a solid fourth at Doncaster, a race which has the makings of solid form. He’s dropped in trip and refitted with a visor so looks sure to make a bold bid in the sprint handicap at 16:35. The in-form Summerghand (whose name looks like a typo, but, for once, isn’t one made by me) arrives at the top of his game and is feared, whilst Pennsylvania Dutch and Calder Prince aren’t dismissed lightly either.