Tough going for wagers on the soft side

In a week of Derby trials and clues, the rains fell by the bucket full and unless the going is in the soft side at Epsom, possible, but unlikely on the fast draining chalk, then I rather doubt the form adds up to a whole hill of beans and we are none the nearer to finding the winner of the colts classic that is only a matter of weeks away now.

With 2000 Guineas winner Churchill seemingly unlikely to even try stepping up to the 2400m trip, the picture seems as clear as mud for now and as I have never been a great one for ante post bets, too may costly non-runners come race day for my wallet, I am happy to suggest we sit back and wait until nearer to race day when we have a better idea of the underfoot conditions.

The biggest news in my eyes this week just had to be the positive test for Nandrolone from Hughie Morrison’s Our Little Sister which could yet end his career as one of racing’s most popular trainers. The truth will out eventually but I can say that on a long list of trainers, Hughie would be close to the bottom of those who might drug their horses and is one of the gentlemen of the sport, and I am confident that there will be another reason found.

At the moment we have the makings of a Dick Francis novel with the police called in and suggestions of sabotage and someone deliberately trying to blacken the trainer’s name, but with a ban ranging from two to ten years mandatory there will be a few sleepless nights in East Ilsley as the experts attempt to get to the bottom of things with a £10,000 reward offered up by the clearly upset handler.

On to the weekend’s racing and there is plenty of action to choose from though discretion is the better part of valour and three bets backed in singles doubles and a treble seem like a fun solution.

With soft in the going description pretty much everywhere smaller stakes make financial sense but with William Haggas in top form courtesy of a 20% strike rate in the last two weeks and he will be hoping that Call To Mind can keep his unbeaten record in the colours of The Queen.

A son of Galileo out of a Danehill Dancer mare he is certainly bred to win decent races, and started off at Newbury in a mile maiden when produced with perfect timing by Ryan Moore to win by a neck. An added two furlongs this afternoon can only see more improvement on what we have seen so far and Jim Crowley will be expecting a steering job this afternoon in the 2.05pm at Newmarket with even nominal improvement.

Word in the Newmarket hostelries suggests that Desert Frost is pulling up trees on the gallops for Godolphin, you have just got to love all those racing phrases, and he is another unbeaten colt stepping up in class and looking to go on to even better things.

He was more workmanlike than electrifying when winning at Doncaster over a furlong shorter but took a while to get the hang of things that day and looked sure to improve considerably for the experience. Yet another blueblood as a son of Dark Angel out of an Exceed And Excel mare he doesn’t hold any fancy entries just yet, but looks the value option here as favourite Larchmont Lad drops in class but with plenty to prove after a nine length ninth of ten to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas.

Lastly, and trying to throw a bit more value in to the mix, Roger Charlton’s Esprit De Corps certainly caught the eye taking his maiden at Bath very easily last month and has chances on his handicap debut this afternoon.

A handicap rating of 87 seems about right on what we saw that day but jockey David Egan takes a valuable seven pounds off his back this afternoon which may make all the difference, and if he handles the cut in the ground, which is the big unknown for now, then he ought to be there or thereabouts grated a clear run this afternoon.

Sean’s suggestions:

Win Patent (three singles three doubles and a treble):

Call To Mind 2.05pm Newmarket Saturday

Desert Frost 2.40pm Newmarket Saturday

Esprit De Corps 3.15pm Newmarket Saturday