Experienced Utley can leave rivals in his wake
ON Valentine's Day this year, I presented the missus with a trip to Oslo and by the time you read this article, I should be sitting in some bar drinking one of those nice pale pilsner beers, which are extremely popular in the Scandinavian region.
Lads, take note: by booking the trip for May but presenting it to her in February, I get brownie points on two separate occasions -- once on Valentine's, and once again when we actually go away!
A mate of mine who lives there tells me that there's only one racecourse in the country, the Ovrevoll Galoppbane, but I can't for the life of me figure out if there are any fixtures on this weekend. So I doubt I'll be going racing.
Those aforementioned pilsners cost 80 kroner a pop (about €10) so when I get back on Monday and check the weekend sporting results, I'll be hoping that the John Gosden-trained Utley has done me a good turn in the Stobart Group King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket (2.15).
He's trading around 13/8 in the early markets but if some money arrives, as expected, for his nearest rival in the betting, I Love Me, a daughter of Cape Cross, you should be able to get a better price.
That one ran reasonably well in the 1,000 Guineas and despite letting favourite backers down, she looked impressive in third previously in the Rockfel Stakes, behind Cape Dollar and Cochabamba.
The selection, however, is expected to come on for his career best run when third in a Listed handicap last month and has plenty of experience under the belt, taking in some tricky races last term including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
Over time, I think they should step him up in distance, but for the moment a race like this is within his grasp and my own ratings have him around 4lbs clear of the field.
Later on the same card, the Godolphin colt Neebras should have what it takes to land the Southend Airport Perfect Flying Conditions Stakes (4.35), albeit at a restrictive price of even-money or thereabouts.
Don't be put off by his eighth place from 11 runners in the Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Sprint last month, as he missed the break badly and was never going to recover.
He's unproven at this trip but was a good second in a Group Two on the July course last year -- and with Frankie Dettori back on board today, he should prove hard to beat.
The Dee Stakes third, Tinkertown will give the boys in blue the most to worry about. He's proven over a mile and appears to be getting better with every race, but I've watched some replays of last week's outing and I'm slightly concerned that it took a bit out of him.
Seattle Drive is another one to note, but David Elsworth is yet to have a winner this season so his horses are probably best watched for now.
Mark Johnston managed to get a couple of all-weather wins out of Abergavenny, and his new trainer Brian Ellison has been keeping him fit at Hereford and Wetherby recently with two very easy wins over hurdles priced at even-money and 1/6 respectively.
He's back on the level today for the Eddie Stobart Stakes Handicap (2.50 Newmarket) and this versatile sort should be lower than the 6/1 on offer with most firms.
2.15 Newmarket: Utley
2.50 Newmarket: Abergavenny (e/w)
3.45 Newbury: Canford Cliffs
4.35 Newmarket: Neebras
5.55 Bangor-on-Dee: Ice Tea