The Cheka is the call at 14/1 against Paco Boy in the Lockinge

Bill Esdaile
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PACO BOY couldn’t have been more impressive at Sandown on his reappearance over a mile last month and Richard Hannon’s five-year-old will take plenty of beating in the Lockinge tomorrow. However, he was a beaten short-priced favourite in this very race 12 months ago, albeit on soft ground, and he’s a bit too short for me at 10/11 with William Hill.

That said, it’s not easy finding anything good enough to beat him. Sir Michael Stoute’s Zacinto is the obvious alternative, but that’s reflected in the prices. Pipedreamer looks interesting on his first run for Kevin Ryan, although I think one mile will be on the short side for him and he’d prefer an extra furlong. Ouqba doesn’t seem like a miler and Lord Shanakill may well need the outing.

THE CHEKA looks the most interesting alternative to the favourite even though Eve Johnson Houghton’s son of Xaar was put firmly in his place by Paco Boy at Sandown last time. I think Newbury will suit far more than the Esher track and there is every reason to think he can finish closer to the favourite tomorrow. He may well come off the bridle pretty early, but he’ll find and has the perfect pilot in Kieren Fallon. In-running traders on Betdaq may well get a massive price half a mile from home and there won’t be many finishing to better effect.

Regular followers of this column will remember I held Richard Hannon’s PLUME in high enough regard to recommend backing her for the 1000 Guineas. Sadly, she never made the line-up at Newmarket a few weeks ago, but she makes her eagerly awaited seasonal reappearance in Newbury’s 4.15pm contest tomorrow. She gets in off what could be a frighteningly low handicap mark and should take this on her way to the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Looking at today’s action at York and I’m prepared to side with in-form Henry Cecil’s MANIFEST against Godolphin’s Kite Wood in the Yorkshire Cup. The former has had the benefit of a run this season and the form of his second behind Harbinger at Newbury was boosted at Chester last week.

I’ll also be having a few quid on Michael Dods’ THIN RED LINE in the one and a half mile handicap at 2.10pm. He won a decent handicap at Chester with a far bit of ease and I’m not sure the handicapper has got hold of him yet. He comes from a stable in rude health and looks a decent each-way proposition.

Finally, looking ahead to Royal Ascot and I was taken by the way that John Gosden’s SHOWCASING ran on at the death over six furlongs at York on Wednesday. Last year’s Gimcrack winner looks all speed and will surely be aimed at the Golden Jubilee Stakes. He can be backed each-way for that race at 10/1 and I would be very surprised if he didn’t start at nearly half that price.

THIN RED LINE e/w York 2.10pm (today)

MANIFEST York 2.40pm (today)

THE CHEKA e/w Newbury 3.05pm (tomorrow)

PLUME Newbury 4.15pm (tomorrow)

SHOWCASING e/w 10/1 Golden Jubilee