Four To Follow takes us all around the country this week, as we get more Derby and Oaks trials from Lingfield. Big field handicap action comes from Ascot, and a trip up North for a Premier Handicap Hurdle. Here are my four selections for Saturday’s racing.
ASCOT – 2:40, Victoria Cup (Premier Handicap) – Safe Voyage @ 14/1 (William Hill)
The Victoria Cup is one of many seven-furlong handicaps throughout the season, and somehow always favours those drawn high. Safe Voyage is one of those, and despite being a 10-year-old he seems to be running alright. He ran in the Thirsk Hunt Cup last week and came a respectable third. It shows he hasn’t lost any pace and can mix in with the best. The ground is soft after torrential rain, and should remain that way through Saturday, so ground isn’t a problem. He checks all the boxes, despite being an old boy.
Spycatcher is another I quite like. Like Safe Voyage he ran last week at Thirsk, and ran to form. He stays at the same mark, with the same jockey on board and fits the profile of many of the previous winners of the race. He has had one run at Ascot, but was way above his level in Group Three company. This is more to his level and can overcome a low draw to be in the mix at the finish line. A decent each-way pick at 16/1 (Boylesports)
One at a price I really like is Darkness for David O’Meara. Never count out O’Meara in any Ascot handicap, particularly later on in the season. He’s never managed to win this race, but Darkness is one who looks like he needs the soft ground. Given that he’s fully into his season, there isn’t a question about fitness, and his last run at Newmarket wasn’t bad at all, losing by two lengths into fourth. I’ll have a small wager at 33/1 (BetVictor)
LINGFIELD – 3:00, Lingfield Oaks Trial – Eternal Hope @ 7/2 (William Hill)
Lingfield’s card on Saturday is now switched to the all-weather, which means it’s a little more of a level playing field. One who could benefit is the Godolphin runner Eternal Hope. She’s by Teofilo, who hasn’t yet sired an Oaks or Derby winner, but has sired many Group One winners. The damsire for this horse is Dubawi, so there is some staying form in the bloodline. She’s had two runs on the all-weather, and the form from her last run at Chelmsford was backed up by the second. However, on paper, this doesn’t look the strongest Oaks trial we’ve had.
HAYDOCK – 3:15, Swinton Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) – Onemorefortheroad @ 11/1 (William Hill, Boylesports)
Onemorefortheroad is finally below a mark of 130. What’s more, he’s at a winning mark of 127. And, despite a deluge of rain at Chester, the rain hasn’t hit Haydock and is set to go off good to soft which means that he’s got his ground. He’s had a slight layoff, and this race feels like it’s been targeted by Neil King. Jack Quinlan is back on board, and should deliver for the lightly raced Onemorefortheroad.
Hurricane Ali takes the eye further down the market. He hasn’t been seen since November 2022, and reappears fresh and with plenty of form to perform on. He finished behind Filey Bay, who franked the form, as did El Borracho on the flat at Thirsk. Hurricane Ali is at the start of his season and isn’t too bad at this time of the year either. He’s on a good mark with 5lbs been taken off by Alan Doyle. Watch out for him at 25/1 (William Hill, Boylesports)
LINGFIELD – 3:35, Lingfield Derby Trial – Military Order @ 11/10 (General)
Once again, it doesn’t look the strongest trial on paper. But, Military Order is a deserved favourite after winning brilliantly on reappearance at Newbury. The breeding is unquestionable, by Frankel and a brother to Derby winner Adayar. There doesn’t look to be any challenge, and the real test for Military Order will be on the Downs in June.
The very best of luck!