WITH just a handful of days to go until the start of this year’s Royal Ascot meeting, this weekend's racing is definitely the calm before the storm. That said, a 2/1 winner at Southwell on a wet Wednesday still pays the same as a 2/1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival and I hope I have picked a few likely sorts to help swell the coffers ahead of next Tuesday.
Let’s start off at Sandown this afternoon where Richard Hannon’s BUNCE can break his duck at the fourth time of asking in the 2.10pm contest. He has bumped into a couple of really useful types in his last two outings and with the benefit of experience is expected to get the job done today. The biggest danger will surely be the Mick Channon trained Extra Power and he looks the one for the forecast.
INVINCIBLE LAD looked an unlucky loser at Sandown last week when checked in his run on a handful of occasions. The six-year-old was eventually forced to switch wide under Richard Hughes and finished with a rattle to snatch fourth. He will be having his 31st career start at York this afternoon and will be looking for his eighth win. Pat Cosgrave has ridden the horse four times and won on each occasion. He takes over in the saddle again today which is an extremely eye-catching jockey booking to say the least.
Regular followers of this column will remember I put up PLUME for the 1000 Guineas a couple of months ago, so it’s frightening to think we can back her in handicap company this evening in Goodwood’s finale at 9.00pm. She will relish the drop back to six furlongs and still looks thrown in off a mark of just 82. She should make no mistake and looks the bet of the weekend.
Saturday’s racing at York looks impossible and I’ll be leaving it well alone. Instead, I’m concentrating on Sandown’s card and will be having a few quid on Sir Michael Stoute’s REVERED in the opening race. She looked really smart when winning at Newmarket last backend and she doesn’t look too badly treated on her handicap debut.
Later on the same card, I am interested in CYFLYMDER in the 2.55pm. The four-year-old showed that he is returning to the form that saw him win twice at Sandown last summer when running on late at Goodwood. He can play a part at what should be an attractive each-way price.
Looking ahead to Ascot next week and it may pay to take the 7/2 currently available with Stan James about STRONG SUIT in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday. We put up Canford Cliffs to win this race 12 months ago and Strong Suit hails from the same all-conquering Richard Hannon stable. He made a really impressive debut at Newbury last month and is apparently the best of the stable’s hugely talented bunch of two-year-olds.
BUNCE Sandown 2.10pm (today)
INVINCIBLE LAD e/w York 4.35pm (today)
PLUME Goodwood 9.00pm (today)
REVERED Sandown 1.45pm (tomorrow)
CYFLYMDER e/w Sandown 2.55pm (tomorrow)
STRONG SUIT 7/2 Coventry Stakes (Ascot Tuesday)