One trainer, one jockey, one horse and one race to watch on Saturday
One trainer . . .
The now-retired Ulysses was Sir Michael Stoute's only Group 1 winner last season. However, hopes must be high that at least two of his four-strong Newbury team will be capable of cutting it at the highest level this term.
Crystal Ocean is the red-hot favourite for the Aston Park Stakes (2.25), and it's not hard to see why. Last season he won the Group 3 Gordon Stakes in fine style before signing off with a creditable second in the St Leger, where he was just beaten by a stronger stayer in Capri.
Victorious on his return at Sandown, it would be a big surprise were Crystal Ocean not to take this en route to a crack at the top middle-distance prizes later in the campaign.
Crystal Hope, whose dam is a half-sister to Crystal Ocean, could scarcely have created a better impression when staying on strongly to beat Musidora winner Give And Take on her return at Sandown and she is a leading player in the fillies' Listed race (4.50). She's not entered in the Oaks but has huge amounts of potential.
Stoute's Newbury team is completed by Eqtidaar (1.50), who was a creditable second to a well-regarded rival at Ascot, and Mekong (3.00), who has progressed with each start and won on his return at Leicester. Both have good chances in competitive races.
One jockey . . .
Most of the attention will be focused on Newbury, but ITV4 are showing three races from Newmarket, in which William Buick appears to hold strong claims.
Newmarket has been a happy hunting ground of late for Buick, who registered a four-timer on 2,000 Guineas day. His full book of rides on Saturday starts with Old Persian (2.05), who is likely to be an odds-on favourite for the opening 1m2f Listed contest having run well in defeat behind a well-regarded stablemate two weeks ago.
Buick then rides Aurum in the 7f Listed race (2.40), who makes the jump from maiden company after a decisive course-and-distance success on debut, before taking the ride on Red Roman for the in-form Charlie Hills stable in the valuable 6f sprint handicap (3.15).
If his first three go in the bookies will be getting twitchy about the prospects of his next four.
One horse . . .
There is no established star among the older milers so it wouldn't come as a surprise were Addeybb, who won the Lincoln Handicap less than two months ago, capable of making his mark in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (3.40).
A progressive three-year-old last season, Addeybb has clearly thrived over the winter as he made a mockery of a mark of 99 at Doncaster before staying on stoutly to rout his rivals in the Group 2 Sandown Mile last month.
The big question is whether the son of Pivotal, who has proved so effective with give in the ground, can produce his best form on a quick surface. If he can, he might just be able to give the mile division a much-needed shake-up.
One race . . .
The London Gold Cup (3.00) may be a handicap but it tends to be won by a Group horse. Last year's winner Defoe was a comfortable winner of the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on 2,000 Guineas day and connections are hopeful he can strike at the highest level, while other winners on the recent roll of honour include Time Test, Cannock Chase and Al Kazeem.
Finding the wolf in sheep's clothing is not easy, however, as a number of these unexposed, lightly raced three-year-olds look potentially better than their ratings.
Likely market leader Masaarr did well to win at Doncaster and may thrive for the step up in trip, Chief Ironside was a wildly impressive winner at Chester this month, while Mekong has improved markedly with each start. Whichever horse prevails is well worth noting.
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