ITV Racing features a bumper schedule on Saturday. Ten races will be screened live, with five from Haydock, two each from Goodwood and York, and the Irish 2000 Guineas from the Curragh as well.
Gustav Holst (1.25 Haydock)
The first at haydock was a late introduction to ITV Racing this week and looks a competitive handicapping opener.
The two value options appear to be Screaming Petrus and GUSTAV HOLST, with the latter narrowly preferred. Richard Hannon’s charge is back on an alluring mark and can make his presence felt.
Screaming Petrus could easily come on for his turf debut now that he is race fit, but you are taking that much on chance, whereas the form with Gustav Holst is there to see. He has been frustrating, as he is without a win in nine career starts, but he was consistent as a novice three-year-old last term and has performed at his best over trips close to 1m4f.
That was never more the case as when a narrow runner-up at Windsor in April off this mark. He was up in class when well beaten at Doncaster, but slipped up badly at Newbury last time when travelling well. Despite that near fall, he finished a decent sixth of 15 and is another 2lb lower.
Alotaibi (1.45 Goodwood)
ALOTAIBI has proved somewhat of a contradiction so far. His early maiden and novice form strongly suggested he would be up for Group race company as a juvenile.
He defeated the now 92-rated Oh Herbert’s Reign on debut, before finishing second to Wanees under a penalty on his second start. Behind him that day was Hannibal Barca, who would finish fourth in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Doncaster by the end of the season.
Both races saw him put up extremely strong performances, but in York’s Listed Rockingham Stakes he was disappointing. Perhaps the drop to 6f was too sharp for him, but he had not seemed short of pace on his opening two starts.
Nevertheless, he bounced out this season, finishing a neck second on his handicap debut and has now earned a rating of 90. He could easily progress beyond that, and with a run under his belt, that seems likely in this race.
Bandinelli (2:00 Haydock)
Charlie Appleby has made a superb start to the flat season and he can land another winner with BANDINELLI. The Dubawi gelding is 2/2 over the trip and although that was on the all-weather at Kempton, he does have form on turf too, with two wins on turf towards the end of last season.
He never wins by far, but always tends to be in the mix of things – in fact, all five of his wins were by less than a length. However, he’s consistently in the thick of the action when it matters, with his last placed finish at Salisbury last year on unsuitably softer ground was the only time he’s finished outside the top two in the last twelve months.
His reappearance winning run at Kempton back in March proved he’s still in good form, and he won on his sole appearance at Haydock last season. Everything points towards another solid run from Bandinelli and he’s our pick to land this.
Movin Time (2.15 Goodwood)
Of those towards the head of the market, MOVIN TIME is the only one who would prefer the good ground currently prevailing at Goodwood to anything rain-softened. That could make it interesting given the current weather conditions, though there is no definitive proof he will not handle it.
His maiden win last season looks terrific in hindsight, as he won easily from Kemari, now a Group 3 winner for Charlie Appleby. Two subsequent efforts in Pattern company for Movin Time produced decent performances, albeit in defeat in strong races.
His fourth place to Real World at Newbury last season can definitely be upgraded, as he travelled into the race smartly, while he probably overraced on his comeback in a handicap at Newmarket. The return up to 1m2f should suit in terms o distance, as long as he can settle.
Should he do that, he has the scope to prove very useful. Victory Chime, as a Listed winner over course and distance already, rates the danger.
Mighty Ulysses (2:35 Haydock)
John & Thady Gosden’s MIGHTY ULYSSES should be far too good for the rest in the Silver Bowl Handicap. He is the class horse in the race and his 101 rating is clear of anything else, with the next best being Outgate, rated 93.
After finishing fifth in the Blue Riband Trial on reappearance over an unsuitable 1m 2f, the drop back to a mile trip next time out showed him in his best light. He could have been called the winner a long way out, finishing over four lengths clear of second placed Devoted Poet and a further eight and a half lengths clear of First Ruler.
His challengers here aren’t in the same league as him currently, with perhaps the unbeaten Whoputfiftyinyou giving him his biggest test, but Mighty Ulysses should be able to prove his class here and win convincingly before going on to bigger and better things in the future.
Night On Earth (2:55 York)
This looks wide open and a chance is taken with Michael Appleby’s NIGHT ON EARTH. His recent turf form reads 333, but the horses to have finished above him have been racing in much higher quality races since (notably Twilight Calls) and the hope is he will show his quality in this.
His most recent run at Chester was impressive, finishing comfortably clear of Blue De Vega, who won a similar race to this the time before. He drifted to the right around the turn that day, and if he had kept closer to the rail would’ve likely finished closer to the front two.
Young apprentice jockey Harry Davies is in good form and takes a handy 7lb off, which should be enough to reverse placings with Look Out Louis. Night On Earth is weighted to go nicely here and in such an open race, he looks worth siding with.
Wings Of War (3.10 Haydock)
El Caballo, Flaming Rib and Go Bears Go may all have own on their most recent starts coming into this, but in finishing last of four behind the last-named, WINGS OF WAR may have blown away the cobwebs.
Clive Cox’s grey, deserted by Adam Kirby who rides Caturra here, may have more in his locker though. His recent performance at Ascot did not look to be because he had not trained on, but he was under a 4lb penalty against some useful horses. He kept on under gentle handling in the closing stages when beaten.
He will race on level terms here, as he is back in Group 2 company. He won at this level in the Mill Reef Stakes last season, as well as on his second start as a two-year-old. Altogether, he promises to show significantly more than on his seasonal debut at some point this year.
The price discrepancy between him and Go Bears Go looks too stark here given the conditions of their meeting last month.
Imperial Fighter (3.20 Curragh)
Of course Native Trail is the likeliest winner and he is one for any short-priced multiples over the weekend. However, there is no value in tipping a 1/3 shot on his own.
Instead, with Buckaroo seemingly the only serious challenger according to the market, we will look for one who looks each-way value. IMPERIAL FIGHTER, the only other British-trained runner in the field, may just be the one.
He kept very good company last season, winning his maiden, before running exclusively in Group races. In every single contest, the form was subsequently franked. Firstly, he was second to Royal Patronage in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York, that winner claiming the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes next time out.
Subsequently, Imperial Fighter was second to 2000 Guineas hero Coroebus at Newmarket, then finished a close-up fifth in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes behind Luxembourg. All of those were performances that read well enough for his places in the context of this relatively weak Classic.
He was below his best on return when only third in Listed company, but he finished off that race well after initially finding racing room at a premium. That should set him up for a decent run here though and a decent pace to aim at would help even more.
Believe In Love (3:30 York)
This pick is all about the ground – Roger Varian’s BELIEVE IN LOVE is well worth siding with, providing the ground stays good. If ignoring his debut run, his form on good or firmer ground reads 1131. The third placed finish was back in 2020 in a Group 2 over a slightly longer trip than he’s used to, and he was only narrowly beaten in the final furlong.
His most recent run on good ground was in the Group 3 Stanerra Stakes last summer at Leopardstown, beating Forbearance in the process, who then went out to win the Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes at Newmarket.
Although we say it’s all about the ground, his form on soft ground isn’t exactly poor. He was only just beaten at Longchamp in the Group 1 Pris de Royallieu towards the end of last season, which is by far the best form on offer here.
Having blown away the cobwebs on his reappearance run and on much more suitable good ground, Believe In Love looks a solid choice to resume winning ways.
Twilight Calls (3:45 Haydock)
Favourite Winter Power doesn’t have the best of form away from York, so we’re siding with Henry Candy’s TWILIGHT CALLS. He had no luck with the draw when fifth in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last time out and with a better draw today, we should hopefully see him go much closer here.
Even with a poor draw, he still performed admirably, finishing 5th but only around a length behind the winner Khaadem. He still comfortably beat Came From The Dark (who he faces again here), but finished behind Existent (who finished second that day). Existent has had five races already this year so the chances are Twilight Calls should strip fitter for that run and reverse placings with the Stuart Williams runner.
There is no doubt Winter Power is the class horse in the race, but away from his beloved York and having been off the course for 230 days, we’re happy to avoid him and Twilight Calls looks the best option to take him on with.