RACE 2 2.35pm
Investec Woodcote Stakes
NORTH Yorkshire’s most successful trainer, Mark Johnston, is double-handed in today’s Investec Woodcote Stakes.
Jockey William Buick will be wearing Sheikh Hamdan’s yellow cap aboard BURATINO, while it’s Adam Kirby who will be in charge of Aleko for the second race on today’s card.
Franny Norton didn’t have to draw the whip on Aleko when winning his Newbury maiden a fortnight ago, and I think there is more to come from this colt.
He has a very nice pedigree, being by top miler Cape Cross out of a Machiavellian mare, and I see him making a better horse over seven furlongs or a mile at three.
While Aleko looks a horse to follow, his stablemate Buratino is the safer bet today and I’ll be backing him at 100/30 with Betway.
Experience can count for everything on the Downs, with no horse in the last seven years winning the Woodcote Stakes on only their second start under rules.
Buick’s Buratino has four runs under his belt, including two wins and a second behind the well regarded King Of Rooks, which is strong form.
The tricky course and buzzy atmosphere can be the undoing of less savvy two-year-olds, as was the case with Mick Channon’s Riverboat Springs in 2013.
Away from Johnston’s duo, you can’t preview this race without mentioning the Richard Hannon stable. The yard have won the last two renewals and today Hannon Jnr fields recent Goodwood winner Nelspruit.
However, I’m not sure that his maiden win at Goodwood came in the hottest company, and the step up to six furlongs will have to bring about some significant improvement.
Former Irish champion apprentice jockey Ben Curtis has been worth following so far this season, boasting a strike rate of 20 per cent or better at no less than nine UK racecourses.
He’s yet to ride a winner on the Downs from four attempts, however, and his mount Be Bop Tango is unlikely to get the soft conditions he needs.
After a four year wait, I think the Woodcote Stakes will be returning to Middleham thanks to Buratino.