Andy Stephens tipped 2000 Guineas runner-up King Of Change each-way at 80-1 last week plus Palace House winner Mabs Cross (6-1). Find out who he likes for Saturday.
Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-olds have been carrying all before them but I reckon Anthony Van Dyck is one to take on in the Lingfield Derby Trial at Lingfield on Saturday (2.30).
O’Brien is seeking a fifth win in the race since 2008, but he usually sends horses who are well down the pecking order at Ballydoyle.
Scratch below the surface and you will discover that none of his previous victors – Alessandro Volta (all out to win at 6-4 after the benefit of a run beforehand), Age Of Aquarius (scrambled home by a neck at 8-11), Nevis (beat three rivals at 4-9) and Kilimanjaro (racefit and went into the contest rated 87) - went on to finish closer than sixth in the Derby and they share the distinction of subsequently never winning again.
During the same period, he has had eight of his contenders beaten and their names no not exactly resonate. Don Carlos, Captain James Cook, Mekong River, Blue Hussar, Landofhopeandglory and Sir John Lavery were mostly well fancied, and mostly well beaten.
O’Brien did send over Kew Gardens last year, but the 8-11 chance could not lay a glove on Knight To Behold. He was then pretty much deployed as a pacemaker at Epsom the following month, where he finished a well-beaten ninth.
It could be that Anthony Van Dyck, who officially has at least 15lb in hand, is simply too good for his rivals but if he’d been sparkling at Ballydoyle this spring then I reckon he would have been on duty at either Chester, Leopardstown or York – in fact anywhere other than Lingfield.
His rating is based on his form over seven furlongs and I’m not convinced he will stay 1m 4f on easy ground because, for all that he is by Galileo, the dam’s side of his pedigree is all about speed.
Given doubts over his stamina, coupled with the fact that he lacks a recent run and the calibre of horse O’Brien usually sends, he looks one to avoid at a price fractionally above Evens.
The pair who look capable of upstaging him are unlucky Epsom loser Cap Francais, a general 7-2, and Pablo Escobar, chalked up at 8-1. At the prices, the latter has to be the bet.
Pablo Escobarr fluffed his lines at cramped odds on his first two starts for Mark Johnston last year but has been hard to fault since being switched to the yard of in-form William Haggas.
He was beaten half-a-length by Call Of Duty, Godolphin’s No 1 Derby hope, in a Goodwood maiden before signing off for the year with a victory on the same track, when equipped with a first-time tongue-tie.
On his first start this year, in a hot £50,000 handicap over an extended 11 furlongs at Bath, he pulled clear with Living Legend despite being a little fresh in the early stages and still a bit raw at the business end.
He might well have won on another day and Living Legend, who was receiving 7lb and had the advantage of a run/win beforehand, did his bit for the form when a creditable fourth in Thursday’s Dee Stakes despite the drop in trip being against him.
Having rambled on long enough about the Listed contest, I’ll try and save you time by being more succinct about my other fancies for the day.
The Racebets-sponsored Oaks Trial (1.55) on the same card features five runners in the main event at Epsom and looks booked for King Power, who is one of them and rates a decent bet at the general 11-2 on offer.
The daughter of Frankel, a half-sister to Oaks winner Talent, cost a whopping 2.5 million guineas and has won her connections only £1,925 in her first two races, but her reappearance effort, when chasing home Sparkle Roll (watch above) in a hot 1m 2f novice event at Sandown, was hugely promising.
I’m a fan of the winner, who is likely to run in the Musidora next week, and King Power is bred to relish the combination of stepping up in trip and some give in the ground.
The one niggle is that Silvestre De Sousa, retained by King Power Racing, is heading to Ascot, although his employers have two runners at that meeting and so perhaps it should not be viewed as a negative. The champion jockey’s loss can in this instance be David Probert’s gain.
Eirene also appeals as overpriced, at 10-1, in the Group Three race on the card (3.40) but it’s a competitive race and I’m loathe to take on Pretty Baby, the favourite, who has a smashing attitude and is probably unlucky not to be unbeaten in her first six races.
At Ascot, Daddies Girl is worth an interest at 10-1 in the St. James's Wealth Management British EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap (3.25).
Rod Millman’s four-year-old has a less-sexy profile than others in the race but she has her optimum conditions - a straight mile and softish ground - and won with something to spare on her return at Nottingham last month (watch below).
She’s up 4lb in a stronger race but she’s run well off higher marks in the past, including at Ascot last year, and promising 5lb-claimer Theodore Ladd, who partnered her for the first time at Nottingham, will again be on her back.
There’s a lack of front-runners in the Tote Victoria Cup (4.00) and I fancy those drawn low on the far side could end up at an advantage as Green Power, a speedy performer who usually races to the fore over six furlongs, is likely to give them a good tow.
That makes Cape Byron (stall ten), Caradoc (seven) and Via Serendepity (six) the most interesting, with the last-named impossible to resist at a general 33-1.
He has a cracking record at the track and is only 3lb higher than when winning over a mile at the Shergar Cup meeting in August.
The five-year-old is probably more effective at that trip, than 7f, but the easy ground will bring his stamina into play, especially if Green Power attacks from the outset.
My biggest concern is that this may be something of a sighter for next month’s Royal Hunt Cup but, equally, there’s a first prize of £65,000 up for grabs on his favourite track and his record fresh is also encouraging.
Finally, at Haydock, a couple of shorter priced fancies.
Laugh A Minute did not get home on his return over 7f at Leicester and will be hard to beat back over 6f in the Pertemps Network Conditions Stakes (3.45), with Emblazoned, opposable after his lengthy absence.
Suedois appeals in the Pertemps Network Spring Trophy Stakes (4.20).
He’s up against some younger, improving rivals but he has at least 6lb in hand according to the handicapper and the old boy has clearly returned in excellent fettle for his in-form yard. He should be favourite but 7-2 is freely available.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
1.55 Lingfield: King Power £5 win at a general 11-2
2.30 Lingfield: Pablo Escobar £4 win at a general 8-1
3.25 Ascot: Daddies Girl £3 win at a general 10-1
3.45 Haydock: Laugh A Minute £2 win at a general 9-4
4.00 Ascot: Via Serendepity £3 win and at a general 33-1
4.20 Haydock: Suedois £3 win at a general 7-2
35p Win Heinz on the six horses above (cost £19.95)