On days when there are big festivals often the value lies elsewhere as the newpaper/online tipsters tend to ignore the “away” meetings, so while the Thursday cards at Goodwood and Galway are very good, I am steering away from those meetings.
11.40 Clairefontaine: – Thousand Grands:
I started this Thursday column last week with a nice winner in a juvenile claimer in France last week and I will look for more of the same at Clairefontaine – the lesser-known sister track of Deauville on the Normandy coast where the racing is of a slightly lower quality.
One successful angle I follow in France is “German-bred/trained runners in claimers” and Thousand Grands is just that. He unseated his rider, after clipping heels, on debut at Strasbourg but then was well backed for a maiden at Cologne only to finish third - however the runner-up has won since. Trainer Henk Grewe has booked Maxime Guyon and this drop into claiming company may pay dividends.
5.05 Nottingham – Casterbridge each-way:
Sprint handicaps in the 0-75 band do not usually float my boat, but I think a return to a flat track on soft ground should really suit this five-year-old, trained by Eric Alston.
I consider his last three runs at Hamilton “throw aways” and three of Casterbridge’s four victories have come when Thursday’s jockey Neil Farley has been aboard. In a field of eight I am hoping for some each-way value, given he takes on two in-form rivals in the shape of Rainbow Orse and Major Valentine who are now both rocketing up the weights.
6.55 Epsom – Doublet:
Member of the first crop for Australian sire Epaulette, he broke his maiden well over course and distance last month by making all the running. He has the potential to make all of the running again in this novice stakes from stall two with front-running maestro Silvestre De Sousa aboard for the first time. Trainer Mark Johnston is unlikely to leave Sussex to come up and see Doublet run, but the fact that he has been entered in this race instead of one of the Goodwood nurseries suggests that Johnston thinks he can win at Epsom.
7.06 Saratoga – Hogy:
A six-time stakes winner, this son of Offlee Wild is dropping out of stakes competition for the first time this year in this Allowance Optional Claimer over 5 ½f on turf. He has already won a stakes race this year at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and is now dropping down in grade and distance after a slightly disappointing run last time in the Grade Three Jaipur at Belmont (6f). In that contest he could not run down two subsequent winners in a race where the North American 6f record was broken. His return to Saratoga is noted, as the only previous time he ran at “the Spa” he won the Listed Troy Stakes over course and distance back in 2013.