There is going to be plenty of rain at Haydock on Saturday if the weather forecasters are right and, with the ground already on the soft side, mudlarks should be in their element.
Bateel is 4-4 when she has run on ground that is good to soft, or softer, and Timeform described it as heavy when the lightly raced mare won the Fred Archer Stakes in tidy style at Newmarket last summer.
The daughter of Dubawi ticks the most important box, then, with Saturday’s Group Three contest in mind and, unlike some of her rivals, will have no problem coping with an attritional race over 1m4f.
Bateel followed up her win at Headquarters with a fine fifth to Speedy Boarding in Group One company over an inadequate 1m2f at Deauville, when beaten only two and a half lengths, and you can put a line through her below-par effort at Ascot on Champions Day because the fast going was all against her.
Since then, Bateel has been switched to Francis Graffard, in France, from David Simcock and she shaped with plenty of encouragement on her seasonal reappearance/stable debut when chasing home Marmelo over 1m7f at Chantilly at the end of April.
That form was franked when the winner subsequently went close in the Yorkshire Cup.
Oh This Is Us wins the Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes pic.twitter.com/lXSSfD1uoZ— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 13, 2017
Ajman Princess, the favourite, is unproven on deep ground, while Laganore, unraced beyond 1m2f, could have her stamina stretched. Maleficent Queen stays well but her best form has been on quick terrain.
Breton Rock is a confirmed soft-ground specialist and will be popular in the John Of Gaunt Stakes (4.05).
However, a best price of 3-1 looks on the skinny side because he has been beaten in the past three runnings of this race and his task is heightened by a 5lb penalty.
Preference is for Absolutely So, a 15-2 chance with Betfair who seems at home on any going and probably ran as well as well as he has ever done when beaten a neck by Oh This Is Us over the same course and distance last time.
He might well have won that day, too, had he not got hemmed in with a couple of furlongs to run.
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The reliable winner did his bit for the form when a close third to Sovereign Debt in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom last week.
Juanito Chico was also in action at Epsom - confirming himself in excellent heart by landing the concluding 7f handicap on Oaks day despite racing a bit keenly and meeting some traffic problems.
He put the race to bed quickly when getting in the clear and, with Silvestre de Sousa again in the plate, has bright prospects of defying a 7lb rise in the Animal Health Trust Celebrating 75 Years Handicap (2.30) at Newmarket. The general 9-2 looks fair.
My final fancy on a trappy day is the Charlie Appleby-trained Culturati, who is interesting in the Porsche Centre Cambridge Handicap (3.05) on the same card.
He was progressive as a two-year-old and signed off with wins at Ascot and York, showing a good attitude on each occasion.
I would not be worried about his fitness, despite a 20-month absence, and there might easily be plenty more to come from the son of Dubawi.
He is entered in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot but would need to win on Saturday, and pick up a 4lb penalty, to sneak into it. Bet365 quote him at 33-1 for that contest.
How to bet £20 on Saturday:
2.30 Newmarket: Juanito Chico £5 win at a general 9-2
3.05 Newmarket: Culturati £4 win
3.30 Haydock: Bateel £6 win at 100-30 with Betway
4.05 Haydock: Absolutely So £5 win at 15-2 with Betfair
£1 Win Lucky Fifteen
2.30 Newmarket: Juanito Chico
3.05 Newmarket: Culturati
3.30 Haydock: Bateel
4.05 Haydock: Absolutely So
Plus £5 win on 3.30 Haydock: Bateel
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