No surprise in the first Group 1 of the new flat season: Evens favourite Cloth Of Stars delivered the goods for Godolphin, Andre Fabre and Mickael Barzelona in the Prix Ganay.
Ridden patiently, Barzelona waited for the right moment to make the decisive move. Once in the clear the Son of Sea The Stars powered home strongly. A first success at the highest level for Cloth Of Stars.
But should it have been a first taste of Group 1 success for last years French Derby runner-up Zarak? Probably. Soumillon in the saddle had to sit and suffer at a crucial stage of the race while Zarak finished like a train eventually – unlucky!
No problems for Minding at Naas. She did it as easily as it gets in the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes and she clearly has not lost anything over the winter.
She made all from the front and the moment Ryan Moore gave her a little squeeze she stretched swiftly clear. Granted, she was shorts odds-on an clear on the ratings, but still on her return to win so easily is impressive.
Next stop on the agenda is the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Currag. The Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot are most likely the subsequent summer target.
Stable mate Johannes Vermeer finished last but got a very light ride with the future clearly in mind. I expect him to come on quite a bit for a run and would not lose hope in him yet.
2.30 Brighton: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
I look forward to see Equiano son Otomo return to the track as a three year old now dropping to six furlongs for the first time. He showed promise as a juvenile, was twice narrowly beaten here at Brighton, although over 7f, and ended the season with two more decent performances.
In all his races he showed plenty of early pace but did not quite get home, so he looks ready-made for sprinting. An opening mark of 67 seems reasonable, and any age- plus trip related improvement should see him run a big race.
It’s noteworthy that the Hide yard is in good form, with a fantastic record at this track and with Liam Keniry in the saddle. Also Equaino offspring tends to perform incredibly well at Brighton.
10pts win – Otomo @ 6/1 Bet365
4.20 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f
Well bred Secret Soul was relatively well fancied in her three career outings so far but despite two decent performances she never came close to win. However it’s fair to assume she simply needed the experience and now going handicapping with a pipe opener already under her belt she could improve.
She is fitted with first time visor as a reaction to her most recent fourth place at Kempton where tried to make all from the front. It may keeps her focused on the job when it really matters.
Given what she has achieved an opening mark of 68 seems slightly on the stiff side. However she ran in and around that level on RPR’s the last two times and clocked fair speed ratings too, so potentially she could be well in, if the combination of experience, race fitness, suitable trip and headgear sees her putting the best foot forward.
10pts win – Secret Soul @10/1 Bet365
6.30 Wolverhampton: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 4f
If anywhere near full race fitness Brimham Rocks should be able to exploit his potentially very lenient opening mark here. His three maiden runs last year have been nothing of note but they were more of educational nature, over partly wrong ground and trips too short anyway.
H’s been a very late foal who’s sure to improve as a three year old once stepping up in trip, given this well bred son of Fastnet Rock is out of an Oaks trial places mare. So the 1m 4f trip should suit hands down.
Also Brimham Rocks’ sire has a 43% strike rate with offspring at Wolverhampton over this distance. All points toward that this lad is certainly well handicap on his handicap debut.
10pts win – Brimham Rocks @ 5/2 Skybet
9.10 Chelmsford: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 6f
I feel Addicted To You has a pretty good chance to follow up on a recent maiden success over 12f. At Lingfield this Medicean colt made all from the front. He got a bit idle in the closing stage which meant a closer from behind got a bit too close for comfort eventually, but overall it was a convincing win.
Now of a 75 rating he could still be undervalued even more so as he steps up in trip which should suit more than it is a problem. He’s got the profile to improve with age and according to sire stats the 1m 6f trip, particular around Chelmsford, should suit.
Given Addicted To You’s two sisters both achieved RPR’s of 80+ it is fair to assume that he can still find a bit to get off the mark in handicap company now.
10pts win – Addicted To You @ 7/2 Bet365