Not so sunny Donny is the main venue for the televised Flat action today, with heavy ground the order of the day.
Three races are on telly, starting with the Listed Doncaster Stakes at 3.00.
Predictably, Aiden O’Brien supplies the favourite in Aesop’s Fables, the mount of Ryan Moore, which is currently around the 7-4 mark.
A 5lb penalty for winning a weakish Group 2 in August is not ideal and we prefer the chances of the apparent second string, Hispanic, the ride of Wayne Lordan.
The application of blinkers for his third and latest run resulted in a facile 8 length victory at the Curragh, putting this horse firmly in the ‘could be anything’ category. At 7-2 we think this is the value bet.
The Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at 3.35 also has an AO’B runner as favourite and a short one at that.
Auguste Rodin is the current ante-post favourite for next year’s Derby, after winning a 5-runner Group 2 last month which resulted in his being given a mark of 109. Frankly, 6-5 as a price doesn’t attract and we suggest an each way bet on the trainer’s other one, Salt Lake City.
First time on a race course, this son of Galileo finished a close second to Al Riffa, which won a Group 1 next time out and has achieved a rating of 115.
After a no-show in a valuable Maiden race at York on unsuitably quick ground, SLC won a strong looking Maiden at Navan by an easy 5 lengths and is likely to be given a mark in the high hundreds in the near future.
Wayne Lordan takes the ride and, hopefully, complete the double at 15-2.
Final race on the box is the 5f Vertem Handicap at 4.10, with a field of 13, just about headed by everyone’s favourite ‘cliff’ horse Count D’Orsay at 5-1.
Having given this horse on an earlier Preview, we won’t be doing it again – cue an easy win.
Our choice is the Karl Burke trained Lullaby Bay, which appeared to run well above her handicap mark when a nose second to a 100 rated horse and well in front of the 101 rated third last time out at Musselburgh.
Has to be said that the handicapper doesn’t believe it and has left her mark unchanged at 83, but this 3-y-o racked up a hat-trick of wins early in the season, including on very soft ground and we think the 6-1 on offer should be taken.
Two races are being televised fro Newbury, but with no clear view on one and an odds on shot in the other, we move swiftly on to the meeting at Cheltenham, where four races await.
The 888Sport Handicap Chase at 2.05 begins the coverage and, in this, we think Coeur Serein is a strong bet.
A 3-time hurdle winner last year, Jonjo‘s 8-y-o would have made a winning chase debut at Lingfield last season but for going rump over stifle when well clear at the last. It was back to hurdles at the end of the season, but this season will (hopefully) be a breakthrough time over the larger obstacles.
We recommend a fair each way bet at 9-2.
The Masterson Holdings Hurdle at 2.40 features a re-match between Pied Piper and Knight Salute, which dead heated at Aintree at the end of last season and one of them will probably win. Unfortunately we don’t know which, so we go ‘no bet’ in this race.
The 888Sport Handicap Chase (yes, another one) at 3.15 looks open and very competitive, despite the small field and we go Irish (and Dutch) by recommending each way bets on Dads Lad (5-1) and Effernock Fizz (10-1).
Finally to the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at 3.50, which has a field of 15 and, once again, we look across the water in suggesting each way bets on Shoot First (5-1) and Streets Of Doyen (12-1).
Now back to the cricket.
Hispanic 3.00 Doncaster 2pts win @ 7-2
Salt Lake City 3.35 Doncaster 1pt e/w @ 15-2
Lullaby Bay 4.10 Doncaster 1pt e/w @ 6-1 (4 places)
Coeur Serein 2.05 Cheltenham 2pts e/w @ 9-2
Dads Lad 3.15 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1 (3 places general)
Effernock Fizz 3.15 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 10-1 (3 places general)
Shoot First 3.50 Cheltenham 1.5pts e/w @ 5-1 (5 places 365/Paddy)
Streets Of Doyen 3.50 Cheltenham 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (5 places)