Senior form analyst Jamie Lynch reveals his runners to keep onside from Doncaster, Hereford and Newcastle, all live on Sky Sports Racing this Saturday.
1.20 – Newcastle
The Frankel in Franberri is starting to come out, that and lessons learnt from last time the reasons why she can reverse form with Quantum Cat, beyond the 2 lb turnaround at the weights.
Each of her last three furlongs were faster than Quantam Cat’s, but the game was already done, dropped out off a steady pace, on top of her lingering naivety, just four races into a career which only began in August.
Jack Mitchell, who won on her at this track earlier in November, is back aboard now and no rider has a better strike-rate than him at Newcastle (22 per cent) in the last three years.
The worry, looking at the likely pace, is that there again won’t be much of a gallop, but that’s where Mitchell’s nous comes into play, along with Franberri’s hardening experience edges. A mark of 79 won’t be anything like her limit.
2.05 – Doncaster
A corner turned for the Sue Smith stable was marked by Cerendipity at Wetherby, as there has been a further four winners (and two seconds) from a handful of runners since, a crest of a wave which Cerendipity can continue to ride, basically just getting going in life.
He needed this trip of 19 furlongs to win as a hurdler so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll improve a lot rather than a little for returning to it now, following his last-time win that probably wasn’t so workmanlike as it looked, especially as the ‘two-mile’ distance at Wetherby is much closer to 15 furlongs than 16.
A big horse who has been minded in his early days, Cerendipity is the sort of classic Sue Smith chaser who’ll keep finding in races and in ratings for a while yet.
2.13 – Hereford
His two goes over fences so far, both on stiff tracks, have been in races that have been 4.06 minutes and 4.04 minutes in their completion: this one on good ground at Hereford will be sub-4 minutes, a decisive difference to him.
All three of his hurdling wins were in contests that took between 5 and 15 seconds less than 4 minutes, and so it was a bit of a surprise that Carlisle and Sandown were chosen for his first phase of chasing, 13 lengths clear of the rest when giving Xcitations a race latterly.
Whizzing around Hereford will be right up his street and, even with top-weight, he should be too good for this lot.
2.40 – Doncaster
The Grade 1s passed him by in a blur at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, but it meant that no damage was done to his mark, a mark (of 136) for his handicap debut which looks lenient based on his Boxing Day defeat of Rubaud, now rated 149.
It wasn’t even close between them at Kempton, seven lengths the margin at the line, in a time only 1.7 seconds slower than Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle a couple of hours later.
He’s still in the deep end in the sense goes straight into a well-contested handicap for his reappearance, but he won first time out in both his previous seasons, plus he’s 1/1 at Doncaster, and Bradley Roberts effectively reduces his mark to 131, which undersells him by some way.
2.48 – Hereford
This is his first marathon, but it might be what Bertie Wooster has wanted all along, still a maiden but placed in every handicap he’s contested and going closest last time over the longest trip he’s tackled, here at Hereford.
A strong finish saw him beaten just a nose by the thriving Mactavish, the pair some 26 lengths clear of the rest, leaving the handicapper little option but to put him up another 6 lb, maybe insufficient, and he still gets 4 lb in the handicap from Norton Hill.
The same day at Hereford, Norton Hill won over this distance, though neither his jumping nor the time were impressive, and Bertie Wooster may be in the right place at the right time for once.
Watch every race from Doncaster, Hereford and Newcastle all live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday, December 16