WE’VE still got the Grand National and Punchestown Festival to come but time now to get very much in Flat mode with the new season beginning at Catterick on Wednesday, writes Lee Sobot.
Tomorrow’s Winter Derby card at Lingfield is the perfect appetiser with Nideeb remaining a strong fancy in the feature (3.10pm) and Musawama looking the good thing of the day in the 3.40pm race.
It was plain sailing on the all-weather last weekend with the Barry Hills-trained Failasoof a winner at Lingfield and showing just why he has Group One entries.
And it seems likely that there will be the same conclusion with Musawama, who looks destined to win at the third time of asking tomorrow.
He still holds an entry in the Derby and while he is unlikely to be troubling the judge in that contest, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned animal did show plenty of ability as a two-year-old after finishing fourth on his debut and then second to the smart Shooting Gallery.
There appears noting of the Shooting Galley calibre in tomorrow’s contest and unless the Barry Hills-trained Tasheyaat is a potential top notcher, our fancy ought to make it third time lucky.
It was possibly slightly disconcerting to see Musawama’s John Gosden-trained stable-mate Tropical Beat stuffed out of sight the other night when well fancied, but Johnny G looks to have every chance of getting an early winner tomorrow.
Nothing has also changed regarding the Winter Derby fancy which remains Nideeb for trainer Clive Brittain.
All the main fanciers, including Dansili Dancer and Pachatttack, have stood their ground and a hot race looks in prospect, but Nideeb was recommended at 5-2 in yesterday’s Horses For Courses column and there seems no reason to change our mind.
This chap was a progressive performer last season, winning two on the spin before just being out-pointed by the Luca Cumani-trained Cheetah and Nideeb looks just the sort to prosper with another winter on his back.
Also highly encouraging is the vibes from the Brittain yard, the horse is said to be training well and looking primed to make a winning re-appearance under the excellent Phillip Robinson.
Winning was also customary for Vanguard Dream last season and the Richard Hannon-trained inmate will be fancied by many to land the Spring Cup at 2.35pm.
However, Hannon’s Dubawi Gold looks the stronger contender and can end his stable-mate’s unbeaten run.
Vanguard Dream won three out of three last season and can do no more, but the form of those wins was not strong and that makes him only the third highest-rated horse in tomorrow’s field.
Top two are Bathwick Bear and Dubawi Gold but the fact that Dubawi Gold was purchased for a whopping 130,000 guineas last October is a pointer to expect a big improvement in 2011.
He was a bit hit and miss last term when trained by Michael Dods but when he was good he was very good. It’s also a big tick that he won first time out last year, a pointer to the fact that it might happen again.
The excellent Jimmy Fortune does the steering and he can beat off his stable-mate who Hannon admits is pretty small and, therefore, in my book probably open to less improvement.
Best of luck with your bets and have a great weekend.