Escobar can hit the bullseye

Both Goodwood and Galway continue in top gear and Steve Hughes has his best bets for Friday

Galway stages one of the strongest cards of the week and I have two against the field in the Galway Blazers. The feature at Goodwood is the Golden Mile and again I have two lined up for this, plus a best bet elsewhere. After several near misses this week we finally nailed a big one with Tudor City taking the Galway Hurdle (advised 14/1).

Goodwood 3.00: Seniority & Escobar

Two old hands at mile handicaps are favoured.

Seniority’s big day to date came when winning this race twelve months ago and off just a 3lb higher mark can be given a big chance again here. A sharp mile suits him ideally and he was a strong second on his comeback at Epsom at the Derby meeting. The Tapeta surface at Newcastle did not seem to suit him as well last time, but fast ground turf is what he wants and a middle draw is no disadvantage.

Escobar loves a strongly run race and will surely get that in this big field. I fancied him for this race last year but he got no run at all when travelling well throughout the final two furlongs. He did well to win at York last time given a steady pace and small gallop and is only 2lbs higher today. Those eyecatching dartboard silks should be seen to good effect here.

Goodwood 5.15: Country

A horse that has caught my eye on a couple of occasions, Country looks to have been found a nice opportunity for his handicap debut.

Weak in the market and green in the race, he could only finish sixth on his first run at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the season. However he knew much more when winning cosily at Redcar next time in the style that marked him down as a perfect improving type for a big handicap in the future.

He was found an easy race to follow up at Ripon recently and duly justified short odds. He is difficult to rate from a handicapping perspective and I hope a starting mark of 88 might underestimate his true ability.

Galway 6.15: Minella Beau & Mindsmadeup

I am having two onside for the Galway Blazers, essentially a consolation race to the Plate for staying chasers.

Given his cracking record fresh Minella Beau has to be worth a punt. His record under rules after more than two months break reads 1101, that defeat coming in an ultra competitive Punchestown Festival hurdle. Significantly two of those wins have been at this meeting – the last coming in a beginners chase last season. A faller when favourite for the Cork National last autumn, he seemed to lose his confidence after that. However he will be refreshed and he has a good record on good going.

A more solid each-way option is Mindsmadeup who looks to have improved since joining current handler Matthew Smith. He won his first chase for the yard by the small matter of 17l at Downpatrick in June and followed that up with a good second at Limerick. That form was franked by the fine run of Ravenhill in the Plate on Wednesday and this gelding has been very consistent throughout his career on faster going.

Recommended bets:

0.5pts each-way – Seniority – 3.00 Goodwood – 11/1 general (Skybet 1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Escobar – 3.00 Goodwood – 8/1 general (Skybet 1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt win – Country – 5.15 Goodwood – 9/2 general

1pt win – Minella Beau – 6.15 Galway – 8/1 general

0.75pts each-way – Mindsmadeup – 6.15 Galway – 8/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)

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