GO for Gold in the £500,000 Cesarewitch at Newmarket (3.40).
That is what ace Irish handler Tony Martin is doing as the increased prize money has encouraged him to have a crack with GOLDEN SPEAR and everything is in place for him to run a stormer.
Last month’s Trial over the big-race course and distance saw Stars Over The Sea pinch lengths at the start and make all for a 10-length win.
He is theoretically ‘well-in’ but this is one of the hardest races of the season in which to try and make all.
Golden Spear caught the eye staying on nicely to beat the rest and runs off a mark of 86, the same one from which he finished a strong-staying fifth in the race two years ago.
He has been lightly-raced since and, proven as he is in this unique event, he looks to have been aimed at today by his shrewd trainer.
Willie Mullins’ Stratum had no luck in the Ebor last time, squeezed out against the far rail when trying to get competitive.
This stiffer test will suit and, representing the same owner who landed a monster gamble last year with Withhold, he is understandably favourite.
Prior to York he had won Newbury’s JLT Cup over two miles with Cleonte back in sixth.
That day it was Andrew Balding’s five-year-old who did not get the rub of the green and Cleonte, a winner at Ascot since, is a major player with a 5lb pull at the weights.
Stratum is one of seven Mullins’ runners and none can be ruled out.
Longer term, look out Flat trainers as the master of the jumps seems to be getting a taste for the summer game! With more than £300,000 going to today’s winner, who could blame him?
Just In Time is on a hat-trick and battled on well to win the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting last time.
However, his last defeat was when a well-beaten second to Vis A Vis at Kempton in August.
I spy an eyecatcher…
I was at Ascot last Friday and the star performer was undoubtedly Owen Burrows’ TABDEED, who took the three-year-old 6f handicap in great style.
He pulled hard, got stuck behind horses and momentarily looked in trouble. But when the gap appeared he was through and gone in a moment, winning cosily in the end, with plenty left in the tank.
He was heavily backed so this was no surprise to connections. He ran off a mark of 96 and, as this was just his fourth career start there is much more to come.
The Tin Man won the same race in 2015 (off just 91) and Tabdeed could also go on to be a Group 1 sprinter. He is one to follow in 2019 and will not be out of place in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot next June.
That form is solid with the third and fifth also winning next time and Vis A Vis is 7lb better off with Just In Time.
Silvestre de Sousa, who has won three of the last five runnings, has been booked and Vis A Vis must go well.
Only a neck behind Just In Time at Donny was Theglasgowwarrior, who was staying on strongly.
With a 2lb pull and a good 3lb-claimer aboard Jim Goldie’s progressive four-year-old is also not out of it.
Southern France, unraced at two, has made rapid strides, and was an excellent third behind top-class Kew Gardens and Lah Ti Dar in the Leger.
That form makes him look well-treated on a mark of 107 and Aidan O’Brien’s runners rarely fail for lack of stamina.
Too Darn Hot will be a warm order for the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes (3.00) which is understandable as the unbeaten colt has looked star material on his last two starts.
But the form of those wins at Sandown and Doncaster has not worked out and he has not faced any top-notchers yet.
That cannot be said of Aidan O’Brien’s main hope ANTHONY VAN DYCK who just lost out to Quorto in a fiercely-competitive Group 1 at the Curragh last time.
Third and fourth that day, beaten a further four lengths and more, were Christmas and Mohawk, who has since won the Royal Lodge. That is the best form on offer.
Sangarius, like the favourite has done nothing wrong, but his Doncaster win came in a modest event.
Advertise has only been beaten by Calyx at Royal Ascot but his latest narrow win from a filly, who was subsequently well beaten in the Cheveley Park, leaves him with a bit to find.
Mohawk’s Royal Lodge win could also be key to the Zetland Stakes (1.50).
In second in that mile event was SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE who was always close to the pace and stayed on when headed, shaping as if he is all about stamina.
As a half-brother to Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling he should be! He can put that theory to the test here as the stiff 1m2f takes some getting for two-year-olds.
The stable won this last year with subsequent Leger hero Kew Gardens and this is another juvenile prize that looks booked for Ballydoyle.
GABR has a great chance of picking up a Group 3 in the Darley Stakes (5.25).
Thought good enough to tackle Group 1 company at Royal Ascot he got off the mark for the year in Listed grade at Goodwood last time over 1m2f, his first start at further than a mile.
This stiff 1m1f should be ideal. He looks best of the three-year-olds and the older horses all look exposed as no better than useful.
At York PACIFY is the one to be with in the 2.05.
The six-year-old has been in the form of his life this season and ran another solid race when third, with Alternative Fact back in fourth, to Communique at Newbury last time.
The winner has gone in since and the second has filled that position again giving the form a reliable look. And Pacify saves his best for the Knavesmire where his form figures read 42214.
He acts on any ground so the weather need not worry us. Mountain Angel and Finniston Farm are both in good form but the proven track record of Pacify gives him an edge.