Racing expert Alan Thomson is on hand to mark your card and give you the best racing tips for the big races on ITV.
SEPAL (4.10) has made remarkable strides in the past five weeks and Iain Jardine hands his filly her hardest assignment to date in the 1m 6f handicap at muddy Haydock.
The four-year-old has scored at Ayr, Thirsk and Hamilton and although Sepal could be going to the well once too often, her ability to handle deep ground will be a considerable bonus. Jamie Gormley’s 7lb claim is another helpful tool and she can spike a few of the better fancied southern big guns.
There is every reason to think this longer trip may eke out another bit of improvement and Sepal has been finishing her races strongly.
Chester winner My Reward will ensure a sound gallop but is up another 7lb. Even so, he is in terrific form and he looks sure to be involved.
HARRY ANGEL (2.25) can overcome the attritional conditions to land the 32Red Sprint Cup.
Trainer Clive Cox has kept his cool as Harry Angel continues to drift in the betting on the back of fears that the brilliant July Cup winner will sink in the deep ground.
There has been sustained support for Brando, last year’s Ayr Gold Cup hero and a recent winner on a soft surface at Deauville. Harry Angel had Brando back in third at Newmarket and Cox’s flier has some backform on a softish surface. Harry Angel’s class can see him prevail and his sire Dark Angel liked it soft.
There are some difficult handicaps on the 32Red-sponsored undercard with CURLEW RIVER (1.20) taking a slight drop in grade after running fifth to in-form My Retreat at Chester last Saturday.
Mark Johnston’s filly was trapped wide for most of the race and she can return to the form which saw her record victories at Leicester and Brighton before being elevated in grade.
Favourite Time Chaser has won on soft for Roger Charlton and the daughter of Dubawi is unbeaten in three starts. Still, I wouldn’t want to go in at short odds, especially as this is a harder race.
CONFESSIONAL (3.00) ran at Chester seven days ago but enjoyed no luck in running down the straight. Tim Easterby’s old boy was beaten a head in this event last year by Soie D’Leau, who re-opposes, and Confessional is 2lb lower here. The form of his third to Guishan at the Roodee a fortnight ago received a boost when the winner went in again at Hamilton.
BENBATL (3.35) drops to a mile after running fifth to Enable in the King George at Ascot and although this is a drastic change in distance the Godolphin three-year-old landed the 1m 2f Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot. In any case, stamina will be a requirement this afternoon and Benbatl has a touch of class.
ARCHI’S AFFAIRE (4.45) takes a rise in class but may have slipped under the radar. Michael Dods’s three-year-old endured a stinker of a run at Hamilton when fourth to Sepal and is better judged on his earlier Hamilton success over Detailed as Joseph O’Brien’s filly has since scored three times.
Indeed, it would have been four wins on the spin if Detailed hadn’t been hampered by a loose horse in the final furlong at the Galway festival. She won her last race off a rating of 92, so Archie’s Affaire isn’t out of this on a mark of 89.
Great Sound has been installed overnight favourite, probably on the back of a soft-ground victory at Newbury, but runner-up Comrade Conrad made no show at Salisbury in midweek.
I’m a bit loathe to desert Taxmeifyoucan after he landed a nice bet at Hamilton last time and Keith Dalgleish will be hoping this step up in trip will suit as Taxmeifyoucan is a resolute galloper.
At Ascot, CAPE COAST (3.55) has a better chance than most in a highly competitive 1m 4f handicap.
Mark Johnston’s improving three-year-old did well from an awkward draw at Chester last Saturday, closing down trailblazer My Reward on the run to the line. He looks one to follow.