SUN-BAKED ground at Catterick should help Colway Ritz (3.45) turn on the style in the mile-and-six-furlong Pickhill Handicap.

Trained at Muggleswick, near Consett, by Wilf Storey, Colway Ritz has been a wonderful stable servant, winning ten races in a long and illustrious career stretching back to his first success over seven furlongs at Doncaster in 1997.

Nowadays the veteran nine-year-old needs much further and his latest victory came over course and distance in October, when battling on in tiger-like fashion to stave off the persistent challenge of Peter Cundell's useful stayer, Kent.

It's easy to forgive Colway Ritz's latest flop at Ripon, where he raced over a half-mile short of his optimum trip and had to contend with a bog-like surface.

He'll be far happier over this afternoon's much longer distance and faster conditions, hopefully setting up win number 11 for one of our region's most popular Flat campaigners.

In the closing Classified Stakes, Efidium (4.55), who did us such a good turn by landing the nap selection at odds of 15-2 last Saturday, is well enough in at the weights to follow-up.

Suzanne France, who gets on so splendidly with Efidium, will have to be out of the gates like greased lightning to overcome her problematical wide draw. Nevertheless her mount is as fit as a butcher's dog and since he doesn't mind being bustled up early on, the chances are the partnership will be hunting up the leaders from the word go.

There are a couple of top-notch sprints at Windsor, starting with the Tote Scoop6 Leisure Stakes, a Listed contest over six furlongs.

Trainer Nick Littmoden has already declared his attention to run Peruvian Chief (2.15) in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, meanwhile his in-form six-year-old, so impressive when scooting home at Kempton seven days ago, can pick up the £35,000 event.

The following £50,000 Gala Casinos Handicap is far more competitive, although Dubaian Gift (2.50) could just turn the five-furlong dash into a procession if in the same ebullient mood on show at Lingfield last time out.

On that occasion his rivals just didn't see which way he went, flashing out of the gate to record a truly breathtaking pillar-to-post win.

Newmarket opens with a red-hot one-mile Class C handicap featuring several previous winners.

With so many improving three-year-olds in the field there is always a chance something special may emerge from the line-up and Mark Johnston's Masterpoint (2.20) is one such example.

The giant chestnut only lost out by a whisker over track and trip last Saturday and he seems sure to go well at what should be backable each-way odds.

It will take a supreme act of optimism to envisage Henry Cecil's Tuning Fork (2.30) losing in the mile-and-a-quarter Fairway Stakes. Cecil's powerhouse beat all bar the leading Epsom Derby candidate Magistretti in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York and has a straightforward task with nothing of that calibre to face.

John Quinn, in the money with Fantasy Believer at Ayr yesterday, has an outside chance of making it an even better weekend with Coracle King (3.40) in the £40,000 Coral Sprint.

Coracle King produced a smart turn of foot to take the money at Thirsk in April and since the clock told us it was his best ever performance, there's absolutely no doubt the Malton-based gelding is on an upward curve.

Brian Ellison reports all of his string are "thriving" at present boding positively for the prospects of Batswing (4.35) in the day's only National Hunt meeting at Stratford.

Batswing, who failed to justify favouristism at Kelso ten days ago, perhaps failed to handle the sticky ground at the Scottish track.

If that was the case he'll be in clover hearing his hooves rattle for the George Jones Memorial Handicap Chase, steered round by the sublimely talented Timmy Murphy.

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