Hannon in double Newbury bid to win his first Group One

First published in Sport

IT MAY not be the greatest weekend’s racing but the Scoop 6 is likely to be won and good luck to all getting involved. The Lockinge Stakes at Newbury is today’s feature event, a Group One contest over the straight mile for four-year-olds’ and older horses.

Richard Hannon saddles two of the eight-strong field as he bids to win his first Group One since taking over the reins from his father who won the race three times including back-to-back triumphs in 2010 (Paco Boy) and 2011(Canford Cliffs). Olympic Glory is the Even money favourite at BetVictor and is the obvious starting point having run away with the QEII on soft ground back in October and the form of his short head second to Moonlight Cloud at Deauville on good ground back in August shows he does not have to have plenty of dig in the ground to be seen at his best.

Verrazano is the dark horse of the race and makes his European and turf debut for Aidan O’Brien; the yard have only won this famous race once, but that was with the brilliant Hawk Wing back in 2003, and we just don’t know how he is going to adapt to the turf. He has drifted out to 9/2 from an opening show of 3/1 at BetVictor and is overlooked with, seemingly, a lack of stable confidence.

The each way selection is Montiridge (9/1) the second of the Hannon runners and taken to reverse last month’s Sandown form back on a sound surface with his conqueror Tullius. The selection has a bit to find with his stablemate on official figures but has a run under his belt, will love the drying ground and, with the dead eight runners, will be very hard to keep out of the frame.

Battalion is a fascinating runner in the Aston Park Stakes but is reluctantly overlooked with the ground drying out all the time. Godolphin’s Sky Hunter was ill at ease on the soft ground at Sandown last time but cannot be backed with any confidence and the evergreen Mount Athos (2.05) gets the vote for Marco Botti.

The selection needs a strong gallop and it wouldn’t surprise me to see jockey Jamie Spencer make plenty of use on the 7-y-old who was pulled out of Chester’s Ormonde Stakes because of the soft ground last week. He ran well in defeat at Meydan earlier in the year and returns to the track following a seven-week break.

Windshear has been raised 11lbs for his fluent Sandown success last time but if he copes with the better ground this afternoon he must go close, but I was impressed with the debut win of Satellite (3.15) last time and he gets the nod for the yard of William Haggas. The selection didn’t beat much at Ripon but he did it in the manner of a useful colt and the handicapper had a difficult time assessing him.

At Newmarket Tropical Beat (2.20) has never won first time out but he ran well at Musselburgh returning from a 12-month lay-off back in August on his first start for David O’Meara and he runs off the same mark this afternoon. The Ebor looks the 6 year-olds primary objective for the season but he ought to go close if fully tuned up for his comeback.

The listed King Charles II Stakes is a modest renewal and a chance is taken on Toofi (2.55) who looks sure to improve for the return to 7f having finished runner up at Newmarket in a valuable sales race over six on his seasonal reappearance last month. Roger Varian won this with Aljamaaheer two years ago and the selection still holds an entry in the Irish 2000 Guineas next weekend.

Pinzolo (4.05) ran well enough on his reappearance and he is taken to land the listed Fairway Stakes doe Charlie Appleby and Silvestre De Souza, who must have been chuckling to himself when True Story flopped at York in the Dante, takes over in the saddle.

At Bangor Nikos Extra was a favourite when with Alan King but has conditions in his favour and is attractively weighted if retaining any of his old ability. Any market move would be worth following although he did blot his copybook when refusing to race last time and winning pointer Handsome Harry (3.05) can go well fresh and is taken to defy a near 600-day absence for Kim Bailey and jockey Nick Schofield.

For all your racing odds check out BetVictor.com

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