Sir Dancealot had a productive time last year and one can easily see why he would start favourite at Haydock for the John Of Gaunt, the feature race on this low-key Saturday. But he has had a few chances on soft without ever seeming to enjoy the experience and it will be properly testing at Haydock.
A few of his rivals make much more appeal on this ground but Safe Voyage (3.35) looks the pick of them. A Listed race winner over this course and distance last time, he has shown a deep love for the mud.
1.25 Beverley It has been an unusually slow start to the season for Richard Hannon, whose 16 winners in May is about half what he usually manages, but this last week has been a lot more encouraging. We can hope for a revival from his Qaysar, who is winless for over a year but showed promise in a much hotter Ascot race last time.
1.45 Haydock A refugee from Luca Cumani’s yard, Prejudice has moved across Newmarket to join the in-form David Simcock stable and should be able to show a lot of improvement now that he’s three. He’s a brother to the classy Postponed and a half-brother to God Given, who went so close in the Lancashire Oaks over this course and distance; both of them were comfortable on a soggy surface.
2.00 Beverley Moon Of Love is the unknown factor here but this is a stiff task for a filly’s first outing and Execlusive could make her experience tell. From the Archie Watson yard that does so well with its juveniles, she showed talent in scoring here last month and one imagines the trainer already had this target in mind.
2.10 Newmarket It took him a couple of runs to find his form but there was a lot to like about Gabrial The Wire’s success at Doncaster and he may be able to make it a quick double from a 6lb higher mark. He wouldn’t want dramatic amounts of overnight rain but the forecast for Newmarket is not so bad as elsewhere.
2.25 Haydock The comfortable winner of Listed races on her last three starts, True Self is the sort of Willie Mullins-trained mare that one does not lightly oppose. This Group Three race should be easily within the scope of the reformed hurdler and the ground has come right for her now.
2.45 Newmarket A fortnight ago, What A Welcome was going past his rival in a close finish at Goodwood but the line came about an inch too early. That was a big step forward on his seasonal return and shows that Pat Chamings’s handicapper, a prolific winner last season, is ready to go in again. This stiffer track should help.
3.00 Haydock The worry here is Danzeno, who hacked up in a handicap on Sunday and would be a danger to all if able to run to a similar level just six days later. That is asking a lot of the eight-year-old, however, so Stake Acclaim is probably the way to go, having had a more conservative 57 days off since his first success of the year.
3.15 Beverley If Moon Of Love lets him down, Richard Fahey may still have a two-year-old winner on the card with Summer Sands, who was green before running on into third in a hot race at York’s Dante meeting. Oh Purple Reign was runner-up in the Woodcote eight days ago but this step back in trip is not certain to help and nor is the forecast rain.