U S S Michigan can make his voyage to Chelmsford pay off in the Woodford Reserve Cardinal Conditions Stakes today.
Aidan O’Brien’s War Front colt has the chance to book his ticket for major assignments down the line too, in this competitive event targeted by several promising types from high-profile yards. A lovely-looking individual, the Ballydoyle runner is top of the list, after landing the cramped odds emphatically on his winning return at Dundalk last month.
The Kentucky Derby hopeful had made his racecourse debut at the Curragh more than eight months previously when he was caught close home after looking all over the winner.
He made no mistake at the same six-furlong trip last time, though, and the more experienced runner-up has since gone on to uphold the form in honourable defeat against a pair of useful winners.
Word has it further improvement is very much anticipated on this move up to a mile, enough certainly to warrant support in U S S Michigan’s latest mission.
On the same card, Unforgiving Minute is worth close attention in the Bet totetrifecta At totesport.com Handicap. John Butler’s gelding is giving years and weight to most opponents but has fared well in both attempts back at his old yard – having scored too in one of his two runs for Paul D’Arcy this winter. He remains below his best winning mark and, at his favourite trip, highly capable of an 11th career win.
Kimblewick has regal connections, owned by Princess Haya of Jordan, and is trained by John Gosden. But the three-year-old Iffraaj filly shares her name with the more parochial setting of a Buckinghamshire point-to-point – and she can do the Chilterns and Vale of Aylesbury proud in the Bet toteexacta At totesport.com Novice Stakes.
Kimblewick was sent off a 3-1 favourite against some likely types on racecourse debut and did not let her supporters down, despite a tardy start, with a ready victory over a mile at Kempton in November.
She had a subsequent winner back in fourth, and the extra two furlongs here in another decent race seem sure to play to her strengths.
Extreme Appeal brings some topical credentials with him into Newcastle’s Betway Stayers Handicap.
The seven-year-old stayer switches from turf to Tapeta, having tested the Polytrack too on his return to Flat racing last month after a four-year sabbatical in a variety of weird and wonderful alternative disciplines.
His trainer, Kelly Morgan, was responsible for last week’s Aintree Foxhunters winner Top Wood, while jockey Graham Lee’s original claim to fame was also over the big fences of course – as 2004 Grand National hero Amberleigh House’s big-race partner.
Of greater relevance here, Extreme Appeal was a tidy winner of an amateur riders’ handicap on the first weekend of the new season at Doncaster.
Wrong at the weights then, he carries a 4lb penalty this time but will not mind the extra half-mile at all and may well be capable of striking again in this class.
In the following Play 4 To Score At Betway Handicap, as is often the case, it may pay to side with Employer.
Formerly with Hugo Palmer, the four-year-old found just one too good on his first start for Jim Goldie.
That came after a five-month break, also in a Doncaster handicap, and Employer might have been even closer without a tough passage through the race.
He competes off the same mark, and may have a little in hand in his new surroundings.
Devil’s Angel has a mind-bending name, but that will not trouble him in his bid for a course-and-distance follow-up in the Ladbrokes Handicap after a highly-encouraging novice win at the end of January.
Over jumps at Wetherby, the consistent Las Tunas has his fair share of weight but sound prospects too again in the racingtv.com Handicap Chase.
In Huntingdon’s Little Stukeley Handicap Chase, Arthur’s Reuben can bounce back from an early fall at Warwick last time.
TURF TALK TIPS
CHELMSFORD: 2.00 Don’t Do It, 2.30 Kimblewick, 3.05 Goodnight Girl, 3.35 U S S MICHIGAN (NAP), 4.10 Unforgiving Minute (next best), 4.40 Hic Bibi, 5.15 Red Stripes, 5.50 Cash N Carrie.
HUNTINGDON: 1.40 See The Sea, 2.10 Jane Lamb, 2.45 Eclair Des Sablons, 3.15 Paddy’s Poem, 3.50 Third Estate, 4.20 Pique Rock, 4.55 Arthur’s Reuben, 5.25 Overflow.
NEWCASTLE: 5.30 Extreme Appeal, 6.00 Employer, 6.30 Devil’s Angel, 7.00 What Will Be, 7.30 Midnight Vixen, 8.00 Alnasherat.
WETHERBY: 1.50 Magellan, 2.20 American Tom, 2.55 Las Tunas (treble), 3.25 Zamoyski, 4.00 Jack Lamb, 4.30 Big Nasty, 5.05 Tanit River, 5.40 Border Victor.