The feature race of the day is the Cocked Hat Stakes at 15:30, when Private Secretary will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins in 2019, after going back-to-back in April.
13:50 – Novice Auction Stakes
There’s a 6lb penalty for Copacabana Dancer after his success at Chelmsford, which may have provided his excuse at Brighton. However, Thomas Greatrex takes over the reins from Jason Watson to account for five of those.
The consistent Audio finished over six lengths ahead of his rival in that race and the former concedes an additional three pounds here, making it hard to put up a case for a reversal of that form. He was only beaten a neck into third that day and the second-placed finisher has since gone one better.
This is a good opportunity to get his head in front against an inexperienced field featuring three debutants. I’m never one for backing unraced two-year-olds and prefer a bit of experience in these novice races so just the two selections for me here.
Selections: Audio & Copacabana Dancer
14:20 – Primary Aggregates Handicap
A tough handicap to call with few jumping out at me. The seasoned Pour La Victoire chalked up an impressive five victories last season, four of which benefitted from Poppy Bridgwater’s claim. Two forgettable runs have seen him dropped to his last winning mark but, without a claimer onboard, he is high enough in the weights.
The other 9-year-old, Baltic Prince, is an unappealing proposition on a career-high mark whilst the last of the veterans, Charles Molson, poses plenty of question marks despite dropping further down the weights since his fourth run at Lingfield.
It’s a preference for the four-year-olds then and Dream Catching looks capable of much better than his last effort at Ascot, though others may be more progressive.
Wufud returns from a 248 day layoff after wind surgery and is very lightly raced. He is included whilst a chance is taken on Department of War, who drops back significantly in trip for a new yard.
Selections: Wufud, Department of War & Dream Catching
14:55 – Fillies’ Handicap
Desirious and Pennywhistle lock horns again, this time in handicap company off level marks.
Beckett’s charge took the spoils by ¾ of a length when they last met but Pennywhistle has had the advantage of a run since and was just a neck behind the 500,000 Guineas purchase Vivionn.
Seven pounds better off this time, Gosden’s filly should push Desirious all the way and these two should be clear of the rest. It’s likely that other players in the pool will agree with me here but I can’t look past these two.
Selections: Desirious & Pennywhistle
15:30 – Cocked Hat Stakes (Listed)
The feature race on the card sees Derby outsider Private Secretary take on six in the listed Cocked Hat Stakes, with Dettori taking the ride. A beaten favourite at Yarmouth, Private Secretary then chased home Space Blues on his final run last year.
He recently went on to win a Class 3 handicap at the Dante Festival in impressive style, showing a smart turn of foot late on after finding traffic.
Stepped up to ten furlongs, the Kingman colt has made an unbeaten start to 2019. His Redcar performance earned a mark of 83 and, after backing it up with a convincing victory at Sandown, he received a nine pounds hike from the handicapper. That makes him the lowest rated of those with a mark in this but with plenty of scope for further progression, particularly given that there is every reason to believe that the extra furlong will suit.
The aforementioned Spaces Blues was beaten by Fifth Position when odds on at Nottingham and he lines up here for Roger Varian, whose horses are flying.
Persian Moon is the most exposed in the field with Group 3 form in the book, he had Alfaatik three lengths behind when third of six at Sandown, though that was only the latter’s second run.
Selections: Private Secretary, Alfaatik & Fifth Position
16:05 – 6f Handicap
Victoria Cup runner, Lake Volta, was unable to justify favouritism at Thirsk when attempting to make all and is turned out quickly here after being dropped back to six furlongs. His form over this trip reads eight runs, two wins and three placings, immediately justifying a place on the shortlist.
The top rated Tis Marvellous is opposable on recent form despite experience in this company.
Enjazaat’s third in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot last May puts him right in the picture and, with that being his first run of the season, it gives hope that he will go well when fresh here after 300 days off, despite failing to fire through the rest of 2018.
Martineo has been in good form with 3/3 on the All Weather this year but he was unable to translate that form onto turf when third in an Ascot Handicap and this will be harder again.
Puds possesses perhaps has the best recent form in the race and a four pounds rise for his win at this track shouldn’t prevent him from being competitive again here.
Selections: Lake Volta, Enjazaat, Puds
16:40 – 2m Handicap
Perhaps the hardest of the six races in this pool to predict so I’ve held back three selections for this two-mile handicap, which I would expect to blow open the pool somewhat.
Elysees catches my eye back on the flat. He is a consistent type who usually finds the frame and is never far away. Second in a grade 2 over hurdles behind Quel Destin, he has a mark of 134 over hurdles after a productive winter and Alan King has a proven record with his dual code horses. His last run on turf at York saw him finish fourth and only half a length behind the winner, giving him a great chance.
Another returning to the flat scene is Blue Rambler. He has a run under his belt after a useful second place at Doncaster and can build on that.
Knight Crusader is five pounds higher than at his Kempton success in March over this trip, though that may not prevent him from playing for places but my last selection is October Storm. Mick Channon’s six-year-old has tasted success at Goodwood before and was third in this race in 2017. I love backing a horse returning to the scene of a previous success and perhaps he can go one better this time.
Selections: Elysees, Blue Rambler, October Storm