1.50 Coral Charge (Group 3) 5f 10yds
The strong-travelling Mitbaahy has what is traditionally regarded as the best of the draw here, and while that advantage is not as significant as it once was at Sandown, he should benefit from it.
As the only course and distance winner in the field, he looks to hold leading claims for a yard in sparkling form.
Nymphadora ran a cracker in the Palace of Holyroodhouse Handicap at Royal Ascot last time, and has clearly trained on well in line with her physique.
She is widest of all on the track, but still rates the main danger.
2.25 Coral Challenge Handicap 1m
Plenty of chances in this mile handicap, and I can certainly see Ouzo bouncing back from a forgivable flop at Royal Ascot.
He was dropped to seven furlongs there having run so well in the Royal Hunt Cup last year, and that looked a mistake, as did the fitting of cheekpieces.
Before that he was a fine second to Via Serendipity over course and distance and will be competitive with a repeat.
Trais Fluor is also considered having won over course and distance in the past from a higher mark, and he has hinted at a revival more than once of late.
I’ll row in with Mostawaa, who also has excuses for a poor run (badly drawn) at York, and who has run well on both previous starts over the course and distance.
In fact, Mostawaa’s record right-handed in turf handicaps at 1m/1m 1f reads 244222, and he has run to a consistent level in gaining those figures. He’s likely to find one or two to beat him, but should run his race and is overpriced.
I’ll also play him in exotic bets with the other pair mentioned.
3.00 Coral Distaff (Listed) 1m
Heredia is unbeaten, and appeared to win with a fair bit in hand in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot. That makes her the clear pick on form, and while Sandown asks different questions, she is very hard to oppose.
She did well to come from right at the back of the field after an awkward start at Ascot, and while she’d not want to be giving others a start again, she is perfectly well-suited by waiting tactics, and fielding against her – even at skinny odds – seems somewhat contrary.
3.35 Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) 1m 1f 209yds
The lack of a front-runner in the Eclipse means it could turn messy, and several of the runners would be better suited by an end-to-end gallop.
Perhaps Tom Marquand can pop out in front on Alenquer and dictate, but Vadeni showed in the Prix du Jockey Club that he has push-button acceleration, and he looks the best option whatever tactics are used.
Vadeni was always handy when winning at Chantilly, and it’s worth noting that the first two home that day came from the lowest stalls, but what was most impressive was the manner in which he careered away in the last furlong when asked to quicken.
I can’t imagine Native Trail being able to pick up quite so quickly, for all he might benefit from this first try at 10 furlongs.
Mishriff’s domestic campaign is never helped by a need for him to compete in Saudi Arabia in February each year, and that puts me off him.
Lord North can be forgiven his effort in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes when Frankie Dettori seemed to take forever to get his hood off when the stalls opened.
He could surprise, but the feeling is that he would need everything to fall right in order to win, and that seems unlikely.
Bay Bridge is probably the biggest danger after finishing a creditable second in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, where the winner was given a superb tactical ride. He’s yet to win a Group 1, but that comment also applied to subsequent Eclipse winners Ela-Mana-Mou, Kalaglow, Solford, Mtoto, Elmaamul, Environment Friend, Halling, Compton Admiral, Roaring Lion, Ulysses, Hawkbill and Mukhadram, so I’m not sure it’s the hindrance it is being portrayed as, especially as he has now had that Group 1 experience at Royal Ascot.
2.05 Bet365 Handicap 1m 6f
Speycaster is a risky suggestion having disappointed at York in May, but it’s easy to forgive that effort, as his yard was under a cloud at the time, while he looked uncomfortable on fast ground there.
He’s since been gelded and given a short break, and with Ralph Beckett firmly among the winners, he’s taken to belatedly fulfil the promise of his return at Nottingham.
Speycaster is very much bred to improve for a test of stamina as a three-year-old, being a son of Highland Reel out of full-sister to Tercentenary Stakes winner Energizer.
He’s also bred along very similar lines to Thursday’s Tipperary hurdles winner Tory Reel and Naas November Handicap runner-up Exchange Rate, so I’d be very hopeful that he will improve for his first try at 1¾m.
2.40 Bet365 Lancashire Oaks (Group 2) 1m 3f 175yds
Others have much stronger claims on official figures, but Nell Quickly improved all through last year, and wasn’t suited by the slow pace when third to Se La Rosa over course and distance on her return.
Softer ground will suit, as will the likely stronger gallop, and Denis Coakley could hardly be in better form, with three winners from his last six runners.
Nell Quickly won twice on soft ground last year, so any further rain will be in her favour, and her official handicap mark looks lenient, which makes it all the more interesting that Coakley and long-time patron Chris Van Hoorn are trying her in Group 2 company.
Her future entries are at this level in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood, and in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, which makes it clear that she is held in high regard.
Her defeat of Crema Inglesa and Mellow Magic has been franked by that pair this term, and the daughter of The Gurkha is a late developer who can improve further as her stamina is drawn out.
She is certainly much better than her position in the market here.
3.15 Bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap 1m 3f 175yds
The Old Newton Cup hasn’t been a punters’ paradise in recent years, with only one outright favourite winning since Matador in 1992.
I fully understand why Gaassee is favourite, and his future appears to rest in group company with entries in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes (now scratched) and the Irish St Leger making that clear, but at 6/4 I cannot bring myself to back him.
Plenty of firms are betting extra places, and with the favourite taking a chunk out of the book, there is value in a few of the outsiders for those so minded.
I’m tempted by Morando, for whom more rain would help, and Liverpool Knight is almost certainly still ahead of his mark having won easily on debut for Kevin de Foy at Windsor.
I’d rather take a swing at a big outsider in Love Is Golden, who will stay out of trouble, and has been placed four times from his current mark this season.
He’s a frustrating sort, but is clearly very tough, and is in the mould of previous winners of this race from the Johnston yard.
There could be quite a lot of traffic to contend with in such a large field, and the jockeys will probably favour one rail over the other in a quest for better ground.
Being able to hold a prominent early pitch will be important, and Love Is Golden has the right draw and running style to be in the van throughout.
Speycaster 2.05 Haydock – 1pt win @ 16/1 (general)
Nell Quickly 2.40 Haydock – 1.5pts win @ 16/1 (general)
Love Is Golden 3.15 Haydock – 1pt e/w @ 50/1 (Bet365 5 places, 40/1 Hills, Paddy Power – 6 places)
Rory tipped two Newmarket winners last week, Lezzo (16/5) and Pogo (18/5)