The Mark Johnston juveniles have very much hit the ground running so SAM BELLAMY is selected to make a winning debut. Out of a two-year-old winner at 6f, he is bred to be sharp and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the market. Rishworthian is another who ticks plenty of boxes on paper, while Karl Burke’s Inhaler could also have a say if taking his chance here rather than at Haydock.
HEATHERDOWN MATRON has a speedy, precocious pedigree and her stable had an impressive winning two-year-old at Yarmouth last week, so she might be worth chancing if solid in the market. Deep Impression could potentially provide stern opposition representing a powerful stable from the ideal draw.
Those with experience don’t set an exacting standard, so this could fall to one of the well-bred newcomers, with SILK LACE making plenty of appeal on pedigree, being by Shamardal out of a Ribblesdale winner. This trip might be on the sharp side, but Pontefract has a stiff finish and Shamardal can inject speed as well as stamina into his offspring. Recurrent is another likely type being a half-brother to smart 6f winner Victory Day.
The newcomers look the ones to focus on and MOTION, from a fine winning family – closely related to smart 5f winner Fountain of Youth and a half-brother to the yard’s very smart Elarqam – and a daughter of 1000 Guineas heroine Attraction, is taken to go in at the first time of asking. Mark Johnston’s filly shouldn’t get things all her own way though as Richard Fahey saddles Sands of Giza, a half-brother to his high-class sprinter Sands of Mali. Dream Together looks the pick of those with experience.
There’s surely more to come from LION TOWER who can complete a hat-trick now handicapping for his in-form yard. Leapers Wood is well treated on his peak 2-y-o form and, from stall 1, could pose a threat having joined sprint specialist Paul Midgley. Richard Fahey saddles four, with perhaps the most interesting being Exceptional who has been off since contesting the Albany at Royal Ascot last June.
An open handicap, but OLEG is the least exposed of these – on the Flat anyway – and will remain of interest following an effortless win on handicap debut at Southwell in March. Admittedly, he has to prove he is as effective back on turf on the Flat, but he has won twice over jumps on a sound surface, and the feeling is he has more to offer. Oleg is 12 lb higher in the weights, but is still fancied to come out on top. Sassie and Anyonecanhaveitall look most interesting of the opposition.
BALLYLEMON let his supporters down on a few occasions in handicaps last term but is perhaps worth one more chance back at the scene of his maiden win last September. The return to a mile and a half looks a good move as he was often too keen up in trip towards the end of last year. Christopher Wood has achieved some very useful form over hurdles for Paul Nicholls and is an interesting runner back on the Flat, while former Ebor winner Nakeeta is dangerously well-treated having rejoined Iain Jardine.
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Ready preference is for SHAUYRA, who was unsuited by the steady pace at Wolverhampton on her final start of 2019 but a strong end-to-end gallop is on the cards here. That form has worked out well, she is unexposed and her opening mark could turn out to be a lenient one. Defence Treaty shapes as though this trip will be within range and is next on the list ahead of The Navigator and Glasses Up.
Liam Bailey has made a good start to his training career and proved his string is in good order when saddling a winner at Newcastle last week. His new inmate STRONSAY was competitive off higher marks for Bryan Smart last season and, provided he stays on his first start at one mile, he ought to prove competitive. Turntable is another who should be winning races for his new yard this year and is feared most ahead of Mustaqbal.