Night Of Thunder to whip up a storm in Newbury's Lockinge
This time last year, I mentioned how there are certain races throughout the calendar which appear to be punter-friendly and the Lockinge Stakes (3.45 Newbury) is definitely one of them.
Luckily enough, Olympic Glory won as advised beating some highly regarded horses including Tullius and Verrazano.
With an SP of 11/8, it could hardly be described as sensational tipping but it's a race I've always done well in down through the years and the fact that it's restricted to four-year-olds and over (since 1995) means that the form of each participant is largely exposed. If you ask me, that's the main reason there are very few shocks.
Other than fillies and mares which get a sex allowance, they all run off a level weight of 9st so it's a relatively straightforward race from a form study point of view - and exactly half of the last 18 winners were at the top of the market.
Indeed, the last horse to win at a double-figure price was Cape Cross back in 1998 and if backing the best horse in the race has mostly worked since then, I'm not going to try and fix something which isn't broken.
In some races, it's best to keep things simple and with a rating of 121, last year's Guineas winner Night Of Thunder is officially the best horse in the race. He's 2lbs clear of Toormore and is a worthy favourite at 9/4. Timeform concur and also have Night Of Thunder 2lbs clear of his stablemate.
Priced 40/1 with the bookmakers and over 60/1 on the exchanges, very few punters predicted a win for Night Of Thunder in the Guineas and although he hasn't won since, he proved it wasn't a fluke by placing in some top-quality races later on in the season.
Most recently, he finished ahead of Toormore when runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot to Charm Spirit and although there are never any guarantees that a horse will progress further as a four-year-old, if he runs to form he should win by a short margin.
Richard Hannon knows the sort it takes to land the prize and, including his father's wins, the yard has won this race four times so Night Of Thunder is a confident selection this afternoon.
As mentioned, mares get an allowance so Integral should make her presence felt at 4/1. She won a couple of Group One races last term although she failed to handle the soft ground in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, finishing well down the field.
Earlier on, Jungle Cat looks overpriced at 8/1 for the Listed Toronado Carnarvon Stakes (2.35 Newbury). Formerly housed by Mark Johnston, the colt was below par on his first start for Charlie Appleby in a Listed handicap last month but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he needed the run.
As a juvenile, he put in some good efforts in pattern company and he's worth another chance today at a reasonably high price.
John Gosden's Waady also has claims and should go off somewhere in the region of 3/1. He completed a hat-trick when landing a handicap at Sandown recently and would appear to be heading in the right direction.
At Newmarket, I like the look of Markaz in the King Charles II Stakes (2.50) at 7/2. He's related to a couple of decent sprinters but he stays 7f and is one to keep onside over the summer.
A son of New Approach, Dissolution went up 2lbs for winning at Newmarket last month. That seems quite lenient and allows him to slip in near the bottom of the weights for this afternoon's Al Zubarah London Gold Cup at Newbury (3.10) off a mark of 84.
The visor, which helped him win a maiden at Goodwood in September, makes a reappearance and although he's a shorter price than my usual each-way bets, I'll be very disappointed if I don't get a return on my money today at 6/1.
2.00 Newbury: Telescope
2.35 Newbury: Jungle Cat
2.50 Newmarket: Markaz
3.10 Newbury: Dissolution (e/w)
3.45 Newbury: Night Of Thunder
4.20 Newbury: Pamona