HAWKBILL should swoop to victory in the Al Rayyan Stakes.
He is at his best on soft ground and his win in last year’s Group 1 Coral-Eclipse shows the kind of form he’s capable of.
It’s hard to argue that was a vintage year for Sandown’s biggest prize but beating Sussex Stakes hero The Gurkha half a length was still a fine effort.
Hawkbill’s best form has come over 1m2f but I’m not too concerned about his stamina in this small field.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Across The Stars won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Plenty went his way that day and he does tend to pull hard early in his races.
I’m more worried about stablemate Midterm. He has a visor on for the first time after a modest comeback at Newbury. It’s too early to write him off.
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LOOK out for VISIONARY.
He has been in great form on the all-weather and he will love today’s soft ground returned to turf.
His close second to top sprint prospect Second Thought on Lingfield’s valuable Good Friday card gives him a great chance at this level.
Perfect Angel is another who will like the ground conditions. She was runner-up to Harry Angel in the Mill Reef over today’s track and trip in September and she went on to run solid races at Listed level.
Private Matter has to give weight to all his rivals after landing a French Listed prize last season. That makes life tricky.
Barrington is pretty unexposed. He’s one to keep a close eye on.
PUT your hands together for MUCHO APPLAUSE.
He landed a Salisbury maiden on soft ground last season and returned with a cracking effort at Sandown. That short-head second to smart prospect Atty Persse is hot form.
The step up in distance from a mile is a bit of an unknown but, if he stays, he’s got a great chance.
Century Dream also ran well at Sandown on his return to action. The Nottingham maiden he won on easy ground in October has worked out really well.
There was nothing wrong with Glorious Forever’s comeback run when second at Doncaster. He’s another who won’t mind getting back on softer ground.
Bush House is another with claims in a race that’s usually packed with future winners.
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GIVE the bookies a dig in the Ribs in the Lockinge Stakes.
RIBCHESTER developed into a top-class miler last season. After finishing third behind Galileo Gold in the 2,000 Guineas he landed the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He improved again to land the Group 1 Jacques Le Marois in France – a win that was sandwiched between half-length defeats in both the Sussex Stakes and QEII.
Soft ground is ideal so he looks rock-solid.
Galileo Gold’s form tailed off last season but he’s clearly smart. His Classic win was followed by victory under a superb Frankie Dettori ride in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot.
If he’s back to that sort of form he would have a decent shout.
Somehow came up well short when tried in Group 1s last season but those runs were over 1m4f. I’m not sure she’s a miler though.
The ground has gone against Lightning Spear and Dutch Connection has done all his winning over seven furlongs.
Templegate’s TV Tips
- 1.50 Newbury – Hawkbill
- 2.05 Newmarket – Call To Mind
- 2.20 Newbury – Visionary
- 2.40 Newmarket – Taamol
- 2.55 Newbury – Mucho Applause
- 3.15 Newmarket – Holmeswood
- 3.30 Newbury – Ribchester
CALL TO MIND is the answer.
He was well backed ahead of his debut at Newbury and he didn’t let his supporters down despite taking time to get the hang of racing. I’m expecting him to improve a stack for that first effort.
His brother Recorder won the Acomb on easy ground so the soft conditions should not be a problem. A lack of experience is a slight concern but I’ve no doubt he is smart.
The ground is the worry for Leshlaa. He did well to come from the rear when scoring at Newmarket two weeks ago. If he handles conditions he would have sound claims.
Desert Skyline and Valcartier both have the potential to be competitive at this level.
TELL the bookies – Taa very much.
TAAMOL won on soft ground on his debut at Newmarket’s July Course last summer. He came up short in a Doncaster Listed race in September but the going might have been a bit quick for him.
His comeback fourth on the all-weather at Newcastle might have looked disappointing but he failed to stay the mile trip. He’s sure to like the drop to seven furlongs.
Larchmont Lad sets the standard. He beat useful Whitecliffsofdover in a Newmarket Group 3 last season but that means he carries a 5lbs penalty today. #
Richard Hannon’s hope came up well short in the Craven and the 2,000 Guineas but he’s dangerous in this lower grade.
Desert Frost wasn’t troubled to score at odds-on at Doncaster. It’s not hard to imagine he’s up to this level.
HOLMESWOOD is where my heart is.
He showed some decent form in a couple of starts on Newcastle’s all-weather in the autumn. His comeback third behind Rich And Famous at Doncaster was a step forward and he should be sharper today.
That Doncaster form leaves him with a bit to find with runner-up Ekhtiyaar but the softer ground tips the balance in Holmeswood’s favour.
Esprit De Corps bolted up in a Bath maiden last month. This is obviously a much tougher race but young jockey David Egan is well worth his 7lbs claim.
Top weight Eqtiraan is the one I fear most. He beat subsequent Group 1 winner Rivet on his debut and he went close when returned to six furlongs last time out.
2.30 Lieutenant Gruber
3.05 Too Many Diamonds
3.40 The Clock Leary
4.15 Hill Fort
4.50 Desert Sting
5.20 Grania O’Malley
6.20 Flo’s Melody
6.50 High Hopes
7.20 Ahlan Bil Zain
8.20 What’s The Story
1.50 Hawkbill (treble)
2.55 Mucho Applause
3.30 Ribchester (nap)
4.05 Kit Marlowe
2.05 Call To Mind
3.50 Di Fede
5.00 Really Super
5.35 Acclaim The Nation
2.10 Pearl Acclaim
3.20 Edward Lewis (nb)
4.30 Key Bid
5.40 Blue Jacket
5.30 Zipple Back
6.35 Racing Pulse
7.35 Pension Madness
8.05 Bambi Du Noyer
8.35 Captiva Island