Betway John Of Gaunt Stakes (Group3) 7f Haydock Saturday – After the heady excitement of last week’s Derby, this Saturday’s offerings are of a much more pedestrian nature. Nevertheless Haydock’s Group3 John Of Gaunt Stakes looks a very competitive affair so let’s hope we can point you in the right direction.
David O’Meara won this in 2014 with that Grand campaigner, the 8yo Penitent, who passed the post at the rewarding odds of 33/1, and in the doughty 7yo So Beloved, he has a similar type to go to war with this year. The son of Dansili has a great track record with two wins and a place from four course appearances, and as he has won a Goodwood Group3 on soft ground the forecast rain for the weekend shouldn’t be a concern. He does have a little to find with Oh This Is Us on running here last month, but coming from this yard, and with conditions likely to be in his favour, it will come as no surprise to see him come out on top this time.
The aforementioned, Oh This Is Us, has been in great form this Spring, notching up two victories, and indeed looked a little unlucky not to have made it three when getting hemmed in, in last week’s Diomed Stakes at Epsom, with Pat Dobson in the plate. With Ryan Moore taking over the steering duties, he could be a danger to all but I wonder how he will cope with the likely conditions.
The Hugo Palmer trained Home Of The Brave won last year’s renewal, and the 5yo Entire, a son of Starspangledbanner, ran another very solid race when finishing second to Richard Pankhurst in a Newbury Group2 in August. He made a most encouraging reappearance six weeks ago when comfortably taking a Leicester listed contest in the manner of an improved performer and if handling conditions, must have a great chance of bringing off the double, (has won his only race on good/soft, but has never run on anything easier).
Charlie Hills is quite bullish about the chances of his lightly raced 4yo, Ibn Malik. The son of Ravens pass won the Free Handicap first time up as a 3yo, and followed that with a good 4th in Royal Ascot’s Jersey Stakes, less than 3L behind the winner, Ribchester. Well beaten in his only other start, he was put away for the season. Hills reports him in A1 condition following treatment for his feet, and as he won first time out last year has to be considered. However as a son of Ravens Pass he is always going to prefer a good racing surface.
If the forecast rain does materialise, conditions could prove ideal for the David Simcock trained Breton Rock. He loves to get his toe in and has won or been placed on six of the eight times he has raced on soft, and the only time he raced on heavy, a Newmarket listed race last June, he beat the very useful Adaay. He was only beaten a short head in this contest three years ago,(soft) but following a decent 3rd in the Group1 Lockinge three weeks ago, the 7yo son of Bahamian Bounty seems as good as ever. The only negative in his profile is the 5lbs penalty he has to carry for his Doncaster Group2 victory last September.
The Richard Fahey trained 5yo Growl has been campaigned at sprinting distances for most of his career but has been placed on one of his three attempts at 7f. However the way he ran on in last years Ayr Gold Cup to finish second strongly suggests that the 7f trip is within his compass, and in the hands of master trainer Fahey is definitely worth a second look.
The Andrew Balding trained Absolutely So is another who has done a lot of his racing at shorter than 7f, but did put up a very solid performance last time when going down by a neck to Oh This Is Us over the course and distance four weeks ago. He didn’t have the clearest of runs that day, and might handle the forecast conditions better than the winner, but if stamina is at a premium, which seems likely, I wonder if he will get home.
Given the wet forecast David Lanigan’s 5yo Mitchum Swagger (pictured above) is worth considering. Unraced as a 2yo, he made his racecourse debut a winning one when taking a 7f Newbury Maiden in May 2015. Despite some useful performances, including a head defeat by the useful Hathal in a 1m Group3 over the course on soft ground last September, his only other win was, again over the course, in a 1m handicap, off a mark of 87 in September 2015 on soft ground. He made a promising start to this years campaign when finishing 5th in a 1m Sandown Group2 in April but then, perhaps not surprisingly, made little impression in the Group1 Lockinge Stakes. He has got form at 7f, including that debut win at Newbury, and on the All Weather, so with his strong stamina credentials, if the conditions do deteriorate, he is definitely one to consider.
Selection : So Beloved
E.W. : Mitchum Swagger