Steve Hughes looks ahead to Saturday’s action
With no real standout meeting I have a selection each from four meetings across Britain on Saturday. Harome (advised 17/2) was a winner in the previous column on Thursday.
Musselburgh 2.30: El Astronaute
One of Musselburgh’s feature races of the year is the relatively new Scottish Sprint Cup and this can go to the in-form El Astronaute with so many factors in his favour.
John Quinn’s sprinter has been in terrific form all spring, headlined by an all the way win at York last month. He so nearly followed up over the same course and distance the following week, off today’s mark of 101, only to be collared on the line by Mr Lupton.
One of the fastest horses in the country, particularly at coming out of the stalls, El Astronaute will appreciate this sharp track and has an excellent draw close to the near rail to maximise his likely head start. He does have a tendency to hang to his left under pressure, but that near rail will mean he can’t drift too far.
Newmarket 2.35: Baron Bolt
Despite finding one horse too good on his last four starts, I don’t have any doubts about the resolution of Baron Bolt and he can finally get the win his recent form deserves at Newmarket this afternoon.
Versatile as regards ground conditions he was narrowly defeated in a classy handicap on the Rowley Mile last month in his seasonal debut and backed that up with another narrow failure at Newbury. He is 4-17 on turf though so it is not as if he does not know how to win, or is happy to follow the leader.
This is the first meeting of the year on the July Course so draw advantage is something of an unknown. However Baron Bolt will have the benefit of the far rail to run against which could prove to be a nice bonus.
Haydock 4.00: Dutch Connection
There have been few more horses better suited to this 7f in recent years than Dutch Connection and a return to this distance can pay dividends for connections again.
He made a fine return to the track when fourth in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes last month, but that trip always just places too much of a strain on his stamina resources. Indeed he is now 0-11 at 8f whilst his record over 7f reads 5-8 in completed starts including four wins at group race level.
He might have too much tactical pace at this distance for the unexposed Emmaus (unproven on fast ground) and Tabarrak (best on a stiffer track/mile) and he escapes a penalty for his August Group 3 win at Goodwood as the cut-off for carrying extra weight was just four days after that victory.
Stratford 6.35: Voix D’Eau
Despite being without a win in over two years, Voix D’Eau is supremely well handicapped and could benefit from the sympathetic handling of new jockey Aine O’Connor.
Seen to great effect with wins on Drumcliff and On the Fringe in recent days, O’Connor can still claim the full 7lb allowance and is more than value for that. Her mount is not the most reliable these days but a second place at Southwell last time suggests he is on the right mark.
A good ground performer I think he will appreciate a strongly run race around this sharp track and looks sure to get that with confirmed pacesetters Imperial Presence and Princeton Royale in the field. Their battle up front could well soften them up for a fast finisher such as Voix D’Eau.
1pt win – El Astronaute – 2.30 Musselburgh – 5/1 general
1pt win – Baron Bolt – 2.35 Newmarket – 4/1 general
1.5pts win – Dutch Connection – 4.00 Haydock – 15/8 general
1pt win – Voix D’Eau – 6.35 Stratford – 7/2 general