RICHARD Hannon couldn’t have wished for a better start to his training career when winning his first Classic within months of taking out his licence. And he could be celebrating a second Group One prize in the space of a few weeks in tomorrow’s JLT Lockinge Stakes (3.50pm) at Newbury.
OLYMPIC GLORY, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, is comfortably the top rated horse in the line-up and he is strongly fancied to follow in the footsteps of recent winners Farhh, Frankel and Canford Cliffs.
The ground drying out isn’t ideal, but he has some solid form on a decent surface and he simply has to be the bet at even money with Titan Bet.
Grade One-winning US import Verrazano has his first start for Aidan O’Brien and a number of Ballydoyle runners have needed their first run this season. This will also be Verrazano’s first start on turf, having raced exclusively on dirt in the States, so he is passed over.
Tullius and Montiridge, Olympic Glory’s stablemate, finished first and second in a Group Two at Sandown last time, but this is a big step up and I can’t see them putting it up to Olympic Glory who should be set for a very successful campaign.
A cracking field has assembled for the JLT Aston Park Stakes (2.05pm) and Melbourne Cup third Mount Athos is sure to be popular with punters.
He has won on his only visit to the track and will love the drying ground. However, I’m slightly concerned about the 1m5f trip as he surely needs a bit further these days.
The one to take him on with is Nicky Henderson’s FORGOTTEN VOICE, who showed an electric turn of foot to land last year’s Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Although a nine-year-old, he has only had 24 career starts and was unlucky in both his races out in Australia last winter. He is another who needs good ground, so the forecast is positive, and I just think he’ll have too much speed for this bunch of stayers.
If you can’t make it to Newbury tomorrow, there is also a great card this afternoon and make sure you don’t miss Hannon’s ALEDAID in the opening maiden (1.30pm). The yard have a great record in the race, winning a division of it four times in the past six years.
Aledaid, a son of Acclamation, has reportedly been working very well and it wouldn’t surprise me if this fellow turned out to be their Coventry horse for Royal Ascot.
Later on the card Hannon can land the Listed Bathwick Tyres Carnarvon Stakes (4.45pm) for The Queen with the progressive MUSICAL COMEDY. Softer ground would have boosted his chances, but it shouldn’t be too quick and this doesn’t look the hardest of races to win.
Over at York, the Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup (2.45pm) is the highlight of the final day of the Dante meeting. Tac De Boistron was a hugely impressive winner of the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot last time, but he needs plenty of cut in the ground to perform at his best and, with the ground drying out all the time, I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Sir Michael Stoute has always been a master at training older horses and GOSPEL CHOIR looks a typical Stoute improver.
The five-year-old comfortably beat Pether’s Moon and Trading Leather at Newmarket on his reappearance at the Guineas meeting and he should appreciate the extra two furlongs this afternoon. The 5/1 with Titan Bet is a fair price.
ALEDAID 1.30pm Newbury (today)
GOSPEL CHOIR 2.45pm York (today)
MUSICAL COMEDAY 4.45pm Newbury ( today)
FORGOTTEN VOICE e/w 2.05pm Newbury (tomorrow)
OLYMPIC GLORY 3.50pm Newbury (tomorrow)