UK racing looks to the Guineas trials

Isn’t it amazing that every time I show off a little, in this case Dubai World Cup night, the world falls in on me and I could not tip rubbish – “pride comes before a fall” and all that and my Grand National selection was pulled up though I am guessing a lack of stamina as he seemed to be going well enough earlier in the contest before weakening after a relatively minor mistake.

Hats off to Tiger Roll on winning the race for the second time but that rounds off the jumps season for me and its time to move on with acres of coverage of him and his efforts elsewhere for you to read if you want to.

Personally, I can never quite work out why Ayr put on the Scottish Grand National a week after Aintree thus ruling out most if not all of the Liverpool contenders with two stamina sapping contests seven days apart too much for most horses, but I don’t  write the calendar and like you, have to deal with whatever is put in front of us. 

I was in Upper Lambourn earlier this week at a yard visit, all will be revealed in next week’s scribblings, and got chatting to a very well regarded Scottish journalist who gave me his views of the Scottish National – so I am stealing his ideas here and cannot even take either the blame or the credit. Crosshue Boy was the name I was given, all hush hush you understand, a winner here last year in a three mile novice handicap chase and possibly laid out for this race. Kept over hurdles so far this year and a solid if not spectacular third at Wexford last month, he looks all set to get the good ground he prefers at a track he handles, and at 11/1 how can I resist a little each-way on Saturday afternoon.

On to the flat next as we begin the build up to the first classics of the season and a decent card at Newbury despite the late absence of Too Darn Hot who remains favourite for the 2000 guineas for John Gosden. At this time of the season we do need to try to differentiate between a) who is running to get some money before the better horses appear, b) who is running because they are in ride health and c) who is running to get a race in to them to get them primed for later targets – not as easy as some would have you believe.

Two recognised Guineas trials await, starting with the Fred Darling Stakes (as was) at 2.10pm when the fillies take centre stage. The unexposed Dancing Vega looks interesting for Ralph Beckett and is one to consider as is Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect who has some good placed form in Group One company but isn’t really guaranteed to get the seventh furlong which has to be of some concern.

Nothing is a guarantee in this sort of field but with John Gosden’s horses seemingly well forward, an each way chance is taken on Muchly, a daughter of Iffraaj who still holds a 1000 Guineas and who won her second start over the mile here at Newbury by a neck with a bit in hand to call upon if needed. She clearly needs to find plenty of that to get competitive here but is bred to be better as a three-year-old and is worth a look even to the smallest of stakes.   

At 2.40pm it’s the turn of the colts (and a gelding) in the Greenham Stakes, but this looks even tougher which takes some doing. Hello Youmzain brings classy form from France to the table and more importantly did so on soft ground, and he could prove a very tough nut to crack this afternoon for Kevin Ryan but Richard Hannon thinks he has a class act on his hands with Urban Icon and if he is as good as they think he is, a win here is imperative. Admittedly he hasn’t been seen since last June at Salisbury but he was a big baby then and is far more furnished now suggesting a positive effort as long as he handles this softer surface.

Sean’s Suggestions Saturday:

Crosshue Boy each-way 3.35pm Ayr Saturday.

Muchly each-way 2.10pm Newbury Saturday

Urban Icon each-way 2.40pm Newbury Saturday

Have a good week everyone and fingers crossed.