A busy day although having looked at 7 races we are only fielding 5 selections in 4 of those.
A decent enough days racing and my main hope is that not too much watering occurs at either Haydock or Newmarket.
BetVictor Royal Ascot No Lose Hughes Stakes (Handicap) (CLASS 2), 2.05 Haydock
Beyond Conceit does not appear to stay as he has not challenged when tried further than a mile and a half. Andrew Balding has hit form and the horse has course form but stamina doubts rule him out. Palazzo Bianco does stay but has only won at Class 4 and is likely to struggle here against better horses. He does have one of the best apprentices in Robert Tart riding and that will help him here. Castilo del Diablo is probably the main challenger to Sun Central but having been beaten by him is probably still held despite a 5 pounds pull at the weights for 5 lengths. Brockwell is from the Tom Dascombe yard which punches above it’s weight at Haydock; however he would need to improve a lot to win this. His consistency should see him place at reasonable odds.
Sun Central is trying this trip for the first time but saw out 14 furlongs when winning last time. He still has potential to improve and Willie Haggas is in decent form and does well at Haydock.
Timeform Jury Stakes (Registered As The John of Gaunt Stakes) (Group 3) (CLASS 1), 3.15 Haydock
Premio Loco is now nine and does not have the sharpness for 7 furlongs and enables us to look elsewhere for the winner. Eton Forever is in form and Roger Varian has a great record with his runners at Haydock. He is the likely favourite but one big drawback is that he has not handled good to firm to date and he may struggle to keep up with a couple of these here. Libranno has a five pounds penalty for winning a Group 2 and runs off that mark today but he has not sparkled this season and the penalty makes this very difficult.
Pastoral Player gets a five pounds pull for 1/2 a length from Libranno and returns to defend his title having won this last year. He loves good to firm going and appears to have been prepared specifically for this race and has the excellent Graham Lee on board. I expect him to have too much speed for Eton Forever.
Betfair Supporting The Animal Health Trust Handicap (CLASS 2), 2.55 Newmarket
This whole race revolves around Enrol, which of course could be a Group horse lurking in a handicap; however he has only won at a lower level. The fact that he lacks experience at this level put me off backing him at skinny odds – he could win easily but the value lies elsewhere.
Mezzotint finished down the field when tried at this level for the first time on his last run. He faces similar conditions today and this makes him vulnerable against some experienced campaigners. Gramercy has been campaigned at a high level and is one of several runners for Dr. Koukash. He is now getting down to a decent mark again and could place here.
Of the runners not in the top five rated Nocturn could go close for the in form Jeremy Noseda and William Buick combination.
Valbchek is top rated and top weighted virtue of having two decent races winning a Group 3 as a two year old and running well enough at a higher level since. He has very few miles on the clock and can make his class tell here and could deliver a welcome return to the limelight for Frankie Dettori.
Heavy Metal ran a lot as a two year old and was pretty consistent which means he has a high rating here. I would have left him out if he was not at the crazy odds of 25/1 plus. He could just scoot clear here and end up winning and I would have kicked myself at that point.
John Sunley Memorial Levy Board Handicap (CLASS 2), 3.30 Newmarket
Parlour Games has disappointed for awhile now and only had one run last season which suggests a physical problem. He is tremendous value at the odds but I would like to see some evidence of his wellbeing before risking anything on him. Gabrial the Great and Angel Gabrial are again from the Koukash ownership and both Ian Williams and Luca Cumani are in form. Both horses have question marks against them with the former having only won on soft and Angel not having won off this mark although he is improving. Handsome Man is the second Godolphin horse but appears to be their first string and he appealed to me here but I think he actually needs further than this. He may just get found out for speed here if any of these press the button in the final furlong.
No Heretic won first time out and looks to be going from strength to strength and has William Buick up who may decide to make all or just hang behind the leaders. Going and distance are ideal and he can win this at reasonably generous odds here.
I am likely to release an ante post bet for the Ascot Gold Cup on Sunday so watch your email in box.