Weekend Racing Preview: Finian’s Oscar Returns6 min read
One of the best weekends on the racing calendar with top quality flat action from Newmarket this afternoon and the return of some of the stars of the winter game at Chepstow.
The Dewhurst Stakes is widely regarded as the premier juvenile race of the flat season and today’s winner is likely to go into winter quarters as antepost favourite for the 2018 2000 Guineas back at Newmarket in May.
Expert Eye (3.00) is the best two-year-old I have seen so far this season although the late defection of Irish raider Verbal Dexterity means Sir Michael Stoute’s unbeaten son of Acclamation will start at prohibitive odds .
The colt was a bit keen in the early stages when winning a vintage renewal of the Vintage Stakes by just shy of five lengths at Goodwood at the beginning of August. That form has been well and truly franked and a repetition of that run will make him hard to beat, although after just the two career starts he is open to significant improvement.
The selection is currently favourite for the Guineas and I expect him to maintain his unbeaten record, although I don’t expect him to have it all his own way given John Gosden’s Emaraaty clocked a good time when making all at Newbury last time.
Kew Gardens (1.50) will appreciate the return to better ground and can land the opening Zetland Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. The colt is currently a shot for the Derby next summer and this 10f trip on good flat racing ground should suit.
The Cesarewitch is the big betting race of the day, the shortlist is long with Alan King’s Who Dares Wins , and Shrewd much respected. The each way vote, however, goes to Ian Williams’s Byron Flyer (3.40) who has finished runner-up in his last four starts but only went down by a head to Time To Study who re-opposes on 4lbs worse terms. The selection is well drawn in stall four, the stable are in form and he can reward each way support (we are paying places!).
At Chepstow Finian’s Oscar is likely to be all the rage for his chase debut after his excellent season over timber highlighted by a fluent win in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices Hurdle back in the spring. A winning point-to-pointer in his native Ireland he has the scope to jump a fence but he lacks the experience and race-fitness of Alcala (3.05) who is taken to land his sixth successive win over fences as long as the ground is no worse than good to soft.
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The selection is a wonderful jumper of a fence and he, and Aintree My Dream, are sure to make this a proper test. It is possible that the likely favourite will just brush them aside in the home straight but at the likely odds I just favour the Paul Nicholls-trained grey.
Nicholls has a great record in the Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Hurdle wining the corresponding race five times in the last decade and Dolos must go close despite top-weight. Champagne Street has been mopping up in modest company this summer and could make a mockery of his current mark over timber, but Dino Velvet (3.35) was a juvenile I felt had more to come from last season and he gets the vote for Alan King.
The Silver Trophy is an ultra-competitive 18-runner handicap and first time out might be the time to catch Tom George’s talented but quirky Sumkindofking and a market move would be worth noting. Bags Groove (4.10) looks well treated at present, however, and he can reward each way support for Harry Fry.
At Hexham Rose Dobbin has made an excellent start to the season and Minella Suite (5.10) has the scope to carry his 12st 2lbs impost in the Handicap Chase over the minimum trip – whatever happens to the six-year-old this afternoon do keep him on side this season.
At Cork Rickrack (4.30) lost little in defeat when runner up in maiden company at Tipperary last month and this filly can break her duck back in handicap company.
On Sunday, Moyross (2.40) is taken to follow up his recent Galway success for Noel Meade – the selection will only come into his own once jumping a fence, but I thought he showed a willing attitude and no little ability when scoring last time.