Steve Hughes has two selections on a terrific day of racing on Friday.
This is as good a day’s racing as you could wish to find outside of a weekend. York stages some excellent racing with big fields, but is overshadowed by a terrific jumping card to round off the 2017 programme at Newton Abbot and a Newmarket card that provides top class racing in advance of an even better day on Saturday. I have selections from two of the best races under each code.
Newmarket 3.00: Dutch Connection
A true 7f specialist, Dutch Connection can make good his return to that distance after a recent fruitless trip to North America for the Woodbine Mile.
Defeat in Canada took his record over 8f to 0-10, but at this distance he is an impressive 5-8, all wins being gained on decent going. A dry and mild week will ensure conditions are in his favour at Newmarket. In truth he endured no luck in running last time, getting trapped for room until too late.
However prior to that he was a cosy winner of the Group 3 Supreme Stakes at 7f and now has four group wins to his name at this intermediate distance. He should enjoy a decent tow into the race with Dabyah and Gifted Leader likely to set a strong gallop – something that should play nicely into the hands of in-form jockey James Doyle on the selection.
Newton Abbot 3.10: Mighty Leader
An interesting race with the handicap skewed somewhat by the presence of one of the top staying hurdlers in Ballyoptic. He holds strong claims himself, but could struggle to cope with a sharp track and there are no worries on that score with recent course and distance winner Mighty Leader.
The 9yo lacks the class of most of these and runs from 3lbs out of the handicap, but has the advantage of being race hardened over the summer and he will love the drying ground. Brodie Hampson partnered him to success in a recent class 2 here and her 5lb claim means he gets no weight to carry.
Cheekpieces, applied in recent races really seem to have revitalised him and he showed real tenacity to hold off Solatentif last time. He stays forever and perhaps race fitness could see him outperform his current odds.
1pt each-way – Dutch Connection – 3.00 Newmarket – 7/1 William Hill, Paddy Power
0.75pts each-way – Mighty Leader – 3.10 Newton Abbot – 11/1 Bet365