Belardo to stake Guineas claim in Greenham Stakes

ALTHOUGH the flat season started at the end of March with the Betway Lincoln, this is the week where racing on the level really steps up a gear.

The Guineas trials don’t always reveal live Classic contenders but that isn’t true of tomorrow’s Aon Greenham Stakes (2.50pm), which looks like a fantastic race.

Richard Hannon’s Ivawood will start a warm order as he had an excellent juvenile season and the yard have won four of the last eight renewals of this Group Three prize. However, stamina is a worry.

He has never raced beyond six furlongs and his sire Zebedee was a sprinter. There is some hope on the dam’s side, but I’m not willing to take a short price about him.

His stablemate Estidhkaar is respected on his Superlative and Champagne Stakes wins last term, but he disappointed in the Dewhurst and he may want softer ground.

The one to be on is the horse that won the Dewhurst last October. BELARDO suffered defeats to Ivawood in the July Stakes and then Estidhkaar in the Champagne, but he bounced right back to comfortably land the Dewhurst.

He wore a first-time hood that day, but he just looked like an improved horse and he will have strengthened up over the winter. He doesn’t have to carry a penalty for his Group One victory and Roger Varian’s runner is fancied to come out on top.

The Hannons are still expected to enter the Newbury winner’s enclosure during the day, though, as

WINDSHEAR looks a good bet in the John Porter (1.45pm).

He only won once last season, but he was incredibly consistent and he finished a solid fourth in the St Leger.

A winner on his reappearance at Doncaster in a conditions race, his main challengers look to be John Gosden’s Romsdal and Sir Michael Stoute’s Arab Spring.

However, the Hannons are dynamite at their local track and this looks a decent opportunity for Windshear to notch back-to-back successes.

The Spring Cup (3.25pm) is as competitive as ever and Richard Fahey’s Gabrial bids to follow up his win in last month’s Betway Lincoln. Paul Hanagan is on board this time, but a mark of 106 could prove tricky.

Fahey won this race 12 months ago with Gabrial’s Kaka and it is interesting that he has booked Ryan Moore for the ride on LOVING SPIRIT.

I have followed this seven-year-old over a cliff during his career and a record of two wins from 30 starts probably shows just how much I’ve lost on him.

He’s been hugely consistent, though, and on his first start for Fahey now is the time to try to recoup some losses. Take the 12/1 with Betway.

■ Pointers…
WINDSHEAR 1.45pm Newbury (tomorrow)
BELARDO 2.50pm Newbury (tomorrow)
LOVING SPIRIT e/w 3.25pm Newbury (tomorrow)