Flaming June is going out with a whimper and soft ground is likely to be the order of the day at Haydock Park.
In the opener the classic generation have won five of the last six renewals but neither Shrubland, blinkered for the first time, or Raven banner have suggested they are a winner-in-waiting. Stoneboat Bill (2.00) is another blinkered for the first time and the four-year-old ran his best race of the season when third over a mile last time and today’s step up in trip will suit.
The selection is now 7lbs lower than at the start of the campaign and he has decent form on a soft surface.
Leontes (2.30) was only beaten six lengths in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and looks ready for a step up to 6f for the first time for Andrew Balding whose string remain in such good form.
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Winning Ways was beaten eight lengths on debut at Windsor by South Seas who is also handled by Balding so the yard should have a fair indication of where they stand with the William Haggas-trained colt.
The filly Miss Infinity was an impressive winner at Ayr last time but that was on fast ground and I’m not convinced she wants slow ground although her half-brother The Wow Signal was a Group 1 winner on soft ground for John Quinn a couple of years ago.
Regal Monarch (4.30) is a typical Mark Johnston improver and he can win his third race in his last four starts in the 1m 6f handicap for three-year-olds. Soft ground holds no terrors and the selection did win by no less than 9l at Newmarket last Friday.
There is also likely to be plenty of cut in the ground at Newbury where Yangtze (7.30) can break his maiden at the sixth time of asking for Sir Michael Stoute. The selection was well supported in a decent contest at Musselburgh last time and the booking of Ryan Moore is a positive.
Fort Jefferson carries a 6lbs penalty for his 11 lengths Leicester win on heavy ground last week and he can follow up although Carbutt’s Ridge is another facile recent winner turned out under a penalty but I favour the Balding animal running in the famous Mill Reef silks.
At Perth ,I like the booking of David Noonan for Gordon Elliot’s Lake Malawi in the conditional jockey’s handicap hurdle and it should be noted that the yard won the corresponding race 12 months ago. Marginal preference, however, is for Tantamount (4.40) who hinted at a return to form when third over today’s C&D for Lucinda Russell last month. The selection is 2lbs lower today, is a C&D winner and looks to be coming to hand.
At Epsom, Yensir has been off the track since running poorly over a mile here on his seasonal reappearance and his subsequent ten-week break suggests something was amiss. He would be worth an interest if the market spoke in his favour. The vote, however, goes to Grapevine (7.50) who was no match for a couple of progressive types at Leicester last time although it is possible that he faced an impossible task given the first and second (Gershwin and Banksea) could be better than handicappers.
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