Timeform look forward to a weekend featuring the final British Group 1 of the Flat season at Doncaster, as well as good cards at Newbury, Aintree and Chepstow...
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You know that the flat season really is drawing to a close when Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy takes centre stage. This year's renewal may comprise a small field but it's a very interesting race nonetheless, with the completely unexposed Camelot, trained by Aidan O'Brien, currently heading the market at 2.44.
Considering Camelot has only raced once, winning a fairly weak maiden, albeit impressively, there has been an inordinate amount of support for a horse that little is really known. Such a wave of support clearly suggests Camelot is potentially very good.
However, the value in the race surely lies elsewhere, possibly with the promising pair Fencing (tongue tied for the first time) and Encke. Both have impressed in their two starts in maidens to date and are open to improvement. More can be found on the race in Timeform's RP Trophy ante-post article.
Another race for two-year-old's at Doncaster on Saturday is the listed event over six furlongs. Of most interest looks to be the Clive Cox-trained Accession, who impressed when winning at Newbury in September by two and a quarter lengths from Glen Moss. Accession looks a useful prospect on that evidence, and is very much in the mix on Timeform ratings.
Of the others, Gusto looked promising when getting back on track in a minor event at Kempton last time and is one of the more experienced, whilst West Leake Diman, who won on his first two starts before disappointing slightly in August and September, seemingly ran his best race yet when seventh to Crusade in the Middle Park at Newmarket last time.
Moving on to Newbury, where the Group 3 Wothington's Champion Shield Stakes (St Simon) has attracted a number of good horses, including Godolphin's French Navy. Formerly trained by Andre Fabre in France, French Navy impressed in his two British starts, before a below-par effort in a Group 2 on Arc weekend at Longchamp last time. A winner of five of his seven starts, it would not be surprising to see French Navy atone for that recent disappointment.
The William Haggas-trained Beaten Up has won both of starts to date, looking a smart prospect in the process, whilst Barbican is chasing a four-timer.
There are also good juvenile races at Newbury, the Horris Hill Stakes for colts and geldings and the Radley Stakes for fillies. The former looks to be a competitive event, with a number open to improvement, whilst the fillies' race looks a good opportunity for Godolphin's Pimpernel, who finished second in a decent Group 2 at Newmarket last time.
The National Hunt season is becoming increasingly prominent with each passing weekend and takes another step up on Saturday with Aintree staging the Old Roan Chase. The top-class Master Minded makes his eagerly-anticipated seasonal reappearance in the race that has incorporated the popular grey, and three-time Old Roan winner, Monet's Garden into its title. Also entered is 2010, and 2011, Ryanair Chase winner Albertas Run, who will provide a stern test for Master Minded, despite also having his first outing of the campaign.
The feature race on Chepstow's card is a Grade 2 novice hurdle, a race headed by King Fingal and Sivola de Sivola. Another who is worth a mention is Charm School, smart on the Flat when trained by John Gosden, but making his hurdling debut for Evan Williams having not raced since landing the November handicap at Doncaster back in 2009.
There is also National Hunt action at Stratford and Galway in Ireland, before Wolverhampton gets underway in the evening.
Finally, it will be more than worth your while getting out of bed exceptionally early on Saturday morning to witness the action from Moonee Valley, Australia.
At 05:20 BST, the sensational Black Caviar will look to make it 14 wins from 14 starts in the Group 2 Schweppes Stakes. On Timeform world rankings she is bettered only by Frankel, and it will be an almighty effort from any one of the four in opposition to disturb her winning streak.
Black Caviar, however, is only an undercard attraction as the main event, the mile and a quarter Cox Plate is due off 07:35 BST. Favourite will be Helmet, who gets all the weight allowances being the only three-year-old in the race. Glass Harmonium, formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is one of his opponents.
We again visit Aintree on Sunday, where their card features several competitive handicaps. Arguably the most interesting race, however, is the novice chase over two and a half miles, as it's set to feature the second chase start of the promising Champion Court. He had jumped fluently until unseating on debut and may well be up to making amends. Also entered is last season's Sefton novice hurdle winner Saint Are, an interesting recruit to fences for trainer Tim Vaughan.
Wincanton also stages a National Hunt card on Sunday, where the feature is a handicap chase over three miles and three furlongs. Topping the weights is the Paul Nicholls-trained Gullible Gordon, winner of the race last year off just a 6 lb lower mark. Nicholls' runner are always respected at his local track, as his 26% strike rate over the last five seasons testifies.
There's also action at Galway on Sunday, where they stage a seven-race Jumps card.