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Sunday 24 May 2015

3.55 Redcar, Monday, May 25

I’m not quite sure why, but the Racing UK Anywhere Zetland Gold Cop (3.55) at Redcar on Monday has always been one of my favourite races of the season; I think I just admire its general trickiness.

Anyway, it would appear that the 888Sport Stakes at York twelve days ago, in which Master Of Finance finished second, Silvery Moon sixth and Chancery seventh, would be the key to this race. It would, but for the fact that all three would probably prefer slightly slower ground, as would Libran, so it could pay to concentrate who like it rattling fast underfoot.

On that score, it may be unwise to write off Libran, who won his maiden on the prevailing good to firm going at Musselburgh last April, but preference on this occasion is for Fire Fighting at 7-1. Mark Johnston’s 4-year-old caught the proverbial ‘tartar’ when beaten 5¼ lengths by subsequent winner Collaboration at Epsom two starts ago and should be suited by dropping back in distance after tackling 1 mile 4 furlongs on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket last time.

The Soldier Of Fortune gelding remains 4lb higher in the weights than winning at Ayr last September, but still looks feasibly weighted on his recent form and provide another winner for Paul Mulrennan, who has a 7-8 (39%) strike rate for the yard in recent times.

Selection: Redcar 3.55 Fire Fighting to win

Wednesday 13 May 2015

3.15 York, Thursday, May 14

The Betfred Dante Stakes (3.15) at York on Wednesday features several unexposed, but potentially very smart, three-year-old colts. However, it could pay to side with Nafaqa, who may lack the superstar potential of some of his rivals but, consequently, may have been seriously underestimated by the bookmakers. The son of Derby winner Sir Percy has just a length to find with subsequent Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park on their running in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket last September, should be suited by stepping up to 1 mile 2 furlongs, and may have a fitness advantage over Andrew Balding’s colt – who missed the 2,000 Guineas because of the good to firm going – this time.

Barry Hills’ charge could only finish second, beaten 1¼ lengths, behind subsequent 2,000 Guineas also-ran Kool Kompany in the Craven Stakes on his reappearance at Newmarket four weeks ago, but it would be folly to write him off just yet. He faces stiff opposition, in the form of Elm Park, Golden Horn, Jack Hobbs and John F Kennedy, but 16/1 in the very early price lists is bordering on insulting. Barry Hills’ son, Richard, assistant manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan said recently, “He [Nafaqa] is stepping up in grade on Thursday, but he has every right to be there.”

Selection: York 3.15 Nafaqa to win (although, at 16/1 in a field of eight, an each-way ‘burgle’ is also tempting)