Jim Bolger can spoil Aidan O’Brien’s party at Doncaster by saddling Verbal Dexterity to win the Racing Post Trophy.
O’Brien fields four in the mile heat as he chases a record 26th top-level success of the year and while both Saxon Warrior and The Pentagon are well fancied, it is Bolger’s colt who brings Group One form to the table.
Verbal Dexterity was forced to miss his intended run in the Dewhurst earlier in the month due a minor setback, but Bolger has been very upbeat in his reports over the last few days and his confidence should prove well placed.
A nine-and-a-half-length winner of a Curragh maiden in June, the Vocalised colt then had to settle for second behind Beckford in the Railway Stakes before comprehensively reversing that form in the National Stakes. Verbal Dexterity seemingly improved for the step up to seven furlongs that day and given the way he stayed on in pretty deep ground, a mile would appear to hold few fears for him.
Bolger ranks this colt as one of the best juveniles he has trained, which is high praise indeed, and Verbal Dexterity can live up to that billing.
There are also juvenile Group-race honours on offer at Newbury and Vintager can spring a minor surprise in the Bathwick Tyres Stakes, better known as the Horris Hill.
David Menuisier’s charge really caught the eye with a cosy success on his debut at Newmarket in August, with six of those that finished in behind going on to score subsequently and give the form some real substance.
Vintager himself was then stepped up to Group Three class for the Solario Stakes at Sandown last month, but his high draw did not work in his favour and he paid for his efforts in trying to get on terms with a couple of furlongs to run.
He was not beaten that far in fifth and Vintager still looks a decent prospect, particularly when there is a bit of cut in the ground.
Best Solution can trump his better-fancied Godolphin stablemate Frontiersman in the Worthington’s ‘Indigo Leisure’ Stakes, aka the St Simon Stakes.
The conditions of the race give him a distinct advantage at the weights and while he has been falling short in Group One company on the continent, he can make the most of a drop in class.
Pulitzer is progressing with every run and she should savour the switch up to seven furlongs in the Listed Bathwick Tyres Stakes.
It is day two of the Showcase meeting at Cheltenham, where Bedrock can take full of advantage of Defi Du Seuil’s absence in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle.
The Dan Skelton-trained four-year-old has taken to the winter game with some aplomb, finishing third to the aforementioned Defi Du Seuil in a Grade One at Aintree in April on just his second start over obstacles.
He won at Warwick after that and made a winning return at Bangor earlier this month. That was not without a mistake along the way, but he overcame it to confirm himself a horse of some potential.
Two Taffs was last seen when winning a Listed event over fences at Ayr in April and he can pick up where he left off in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase.
The seven-year-old took a while to get his head in front over fences but looks capable of kicking on again this season.
TURF TALK TIPS
CHELTENHAM: 2.00 Doing Fine, 2.35 Bedrock, 3.10 Cobra De Mai, 3.45 Prime Venture, 4.20 Two Taffs, 4.55 Coeur Pensif, 5.30 Way Out West.
DONCASTER: 1.45 Mutaaqeb, 2.20 Rogue, 2.55 Ooty Hill, 3.25 VERBAL DEXTERITY (NAP), 4.00 Boundsy, 4.35 Sir Dancealot, 5.10 Pastime.
KELSO: 2.25 Echo Express, 3.00 Give Me A Copper, 3.35 Firth Of The Clyde, 4.05 Modulus, 4.40 Allez Cool, 5.15 Chapel Stile.
NEWBURY: 1.10 Hazarfiya, 1.40 New Empire, 2.15 Best Solution (treble), 2.50 Vintager (next best), 3.20 Storm Rock, 3.55 Pulitzer, 4.30 Highgarden, 5.05 Walsingham Grange.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Rapid Ranger, 6.15 Excellent World, 6.45 Perfect Spy, 7.15 Ted’s Brother, 7.45 Jasi, 8.15 Samovar, 8.45 Dreaming Time, 9.15 Graphite.