General Sago owes me one and I’m ready to accept his marker when the twice-raced Fascinating Rock gelding attempts to go one better in a thirteen-runner Novice Stakes over six furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Doncaster tonight; experienced Northern-based Donald Nolan takes over from Shane Gray and it represents a bonus in my book.
Nolan has been ‘around the block’ for some time as a ‘journeyman jockey’ but his consistency and earnest work ethic have attracted the likes of high-profile trainers such as the indomitable Richard ‘winning machine’ Fahey, and now prolific David O’Meara has booked David for an urgent mission; progressive General Sago has a chance second to none judged on his actual time-figure when beaten comprehensively, two and three-quarters lengths behind 1/4 favourite Twilight Calls, over course and distance a fortnight ago.
Previous winners Rogue Bear and Skyrunner are penalised 7lbs, which equates to at least two lengths, and though both are likely to be ‘on the premises’ they will be hard-pressed to cope with General Sago if he replicates his recent mark; hopefully front-running tactics will be used again.
Fastidious combing of several fixtures this ‘Super-Saturday’ has unearthed The Gatekeeper, one of six runners for a Conditions Stakes over six furlongs of ‘good to soft’ Newbury; this twice-raced Excelebration colt, a debut Musselburgh winner, visited nearby Ascot last month but was just unable to cope with unbeaten Chipotle, impressive in the ‘Brocklesby’ on Town Moor in March and now destined for Royal Ascot.
They were engaged in a ‘battle royal’ as Mark Johnston-trained The Gatekeeper attempted to make all under Ben Curtis but Eve Johnson Houghton’s charge was determined and led close home for a length victory. Great stuff for two-year-old aficionados like myself.
Dairerin and Dukebox, first-up winners at Ripon and Kempton respectively can’t be dismissed and two well-bred newcomers are apparently fancied but what beats timep-handicap ‘best-in’ The Gatekeeper will win.
Mellow Magic represents my absolute ‘favourite’ trainer/jockey combination, Andrew Balding and David Probert, in an eight-runner Newmarket 3-y-o Maiden Stakes over twelve furlongs of a ‘good’ surface and this Nathaniel filly must not be opposed with good reason; I don’t know of one!
‘The Probe’ is indeed ‘Magic’ to watch, so cool, calm and collected.
Selections, Newbury, 1.15 The Gatekeeper; Newmarket, 4.25 Mellow Magic; Doncaster, 6.35 General Sago (e.w).
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019