Guessing what the weather is going to do is the hardest part of trying to tip a winner more than 24 hours ahead of the race in question.
Last week there was plenty of rain forecast at Doncaster, which led me to headline tip Order Of St George for the St Leger.
That rain never materialised, forcing connections to switch him to the Curragh the following day – obviously he bolted up.
Newbury has been heavily hit by rain this week, virtually ensuring that ground will be soft for both this afternoon’s and tomorrow’s fixtures. That makes things a little easier as we are now at a time of year where the ground doesn’t dry out as fast.
When TOP TUG beat Cloudscape in a 10 furlong handicap at Newmarket some 16 months ago, he went into plenty of notebooks as a typical Sir Michael Stoute-trained improver on the fast track to Listed or Group company.
However, things haven’t quite gone to plan since as he’s suffered training hold-ups and was re-introduced in his first two starts of this campaign on ground that was blatantly too quick for him.
Importantly, he wasn’t knocked around on either occasion and has been generously dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper.
On his penultimate start at Glorious Goodwood, he found no luck in-running and would have certainly finished a lot closer if the gaps had appeared at the right time.
The 10 furlong trip appeared perfect and the cut in the ground seemed to help too. He ran well again at York last time, but the 12 furlongs may stretch him a little.
In short, 10 furlongs on a flat track in tomorrow’s Dubai Duty Free Handicap (2.50pm) with plenty of cut in the ground is ideal for him.
I’m prepared to forgive Top Tug all his expensive disappointments so far this campaign and step in each-way at 8/1 with Betway in the hands of Jamie Spencer.
Tom Dascombe’s Cymro could go well now that the rain has arrived and he too seems much happier on a conventional flat track.
I was expecting to put up Maarek in the five furlong sprint (3.25pm), after his excellent effort at the Curragh on Sunday, but he has surprisingly not been entered.
Spencer would have taken the ride, but the classy jockey should be celebrating anyway as he will be getting the leg up on STEPS, who bounced back to form in the Portland last weekend.
Roger Varian’s seven-year-old responded really well to a first-time visor. He’s a top sprinter on soft ground and tomorrow’s race doesn’t look that great.
Top Tug e/w 2.50pm Newbury (tomorrow)
Steps 3.25pm Newbury (tomorrow)