The big betting race at Haydock on Saturday is the valuable 1m 4f Old Newton Cup Handicap (15:15), and the potentially well-treated Infrastructure looks worth a punt at the 10/1 on offer with Coral.
This Martyn Meade trained four year-old took his form to a new level last season when sent handicapping, finishing a fine third to Ibraz at Nottingham before being beaten just a length when runner-up to Corgi at Sandown.
Corgi, from whom he was receiving 3lb, went on to finish a fine neck second in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and also ran really well off a mark of 99 in when fourth in Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at that meeting last time out.
That gives the form a solid look and Infrastructure went on to gain a deserved success over 1m 4f at Salisbury when only having to be ridden out to readily beat Mekong by 1 1/4 lengths.
Given that Mekong was giving him just 1lb and has won twice since, finished a fine fourth in the Melrose Cup at York, runner-up in a Listed contest at Haydock and second to Dee Ex Bee in a Group 3 at Sandown to be rated 109, it’s form that reads very well in relation to this.
It suggests that Infrastructure should be more than capable of winning races off his current mark of 90.
There was lots to like about his reappearance run at Newmarket when a keeping on and not knocked about fourth over 1m 2f.
That should have put Infrastructure spot on for this and the step back up to 1m 4f is sure to suit.
Darragh Keenan takes off a handy 5lb with his claim, so there’s lots to like about the chances of Infrastructure.
Old Newton Cup top weight First Eleven feared
The market is headed by First Eleven, a top-price 4/1 with William Hill, and he looks a huge player despite having to shoulder top weight of 9st 10lb.
This John Gosden trained son of Frankel progressed throughout last season when winning twice and posting some fine efforts in defeat.
They included when an unlucky in-running neck third of 18 to Baghdad in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot.
He also filled the same spot behind Laraaib in a Group 3 at the Berkshire venue on his final start of the campaign.
First Eleven appealed as the type to do even better as a four-year-old, and that view was confirmed when he landed a highly-competitive 19-runner handicap at York on seasonal reappearance in May.
After travelling well in mid-division under Frankie Dettpri, he made good headway two from home to take up the running approaching the final furlong and then found plenty for pressure to hold off the persistent challenge of Fujaira Prince by a neck.
It was a most taking performance and a 5lb rise in the weights to a career-high mark of 109 does not look harsh.
First Eleven is likely to prove better than a handicapper and it’s interesting that he holds entries in two Group 1s, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot and the Irish St Leger at the Curragh.
So, with the stable operating at a strike rate of 30 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing, there is simply nothing not to like about the profile of First Eleven and a bold bid looks assured.
Aquarium the pick of Johnston Old Newton Cup pair
In-form trainer Mark Johnston has won three three of the last six runnings of the race, including last year’s renewal with Rainbow Rebel.
His two representatives this time around are Aquarium, and Charles Kingsley. Preference is for the former, who can be backed at a tempting each-way price of 16/1 with BetVictor. They pay five places on the Old Newton Cup.
This four-year-old is a five-time winner and impressed in the last of those successes at Chester back in May when staying on strongly from off the pace to beat Epaulement by half-a-length off a mark of 101.
He then ran badly next time up when a well-beaten 10th of 11 to Soto Sizzler at Epsom, but like many from the yard quickly bounced back and ran very well last time out at Royal Ascot.
Aquarium was a keeping on 4 3/4 lengths seventh of 10 to stable companion Baghdad in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes off his current rating of 103.The form of that race reads well in relation to this.
As Aquarium was rated as high as 106 last year, there is no reason why he should not be up to winning a race of this nature off his current mark.
Franny Norton also has a healthy 28 per cent strike rate on him having won four times and been placed on four occasions from 14 rides.
This race should also be run to suit, so Aquarium looks a lively outsider and capable of hitting the frame at least in a wide-open renewal.
Kelly’s Dino has an each-way shout
In a race in which a case can be made for most of the 19 runners, Kelly’s Dino is another that looks well worth considering each-way at the 16/1 on offer with Paddy Power who also pay five places.
This Karl Burke trained gelding had a terrific 2018 following a lengthy absence, progressing throughout and winning four times.
In the last of those successes at Ascot, Kelly’s Dino stayed on well to beat the useful Atty Perse by 1 1/4 lengths in a decent class 2 handicap.
He went on to round off the campaign with a solid 4 1/4 lengths third of 18 to Titus in a competitive class 2 at York off a mark of 95.
The six-year-old now has to race off just 2lb higher, but there was lots to like about his return to action at Wolverhampton in March when chasing home Mootasadir.
It’s fair to say that the son of Doctor Dino was then disappointing in his next two starts, but he looks to be going back in the right direction judging by is run last time out at Ayr following wind surgery.
Kelly’s Dino travelled like much the best horse at the weights before going down by just three-quarters of a length to Island Brave.
He had the re-opposing Charles Kingley and Grandee behind in fifth and seventh respectively, and there is no reason why he should not confirm the form with that pair.
If building on that, Kelly’s Dino looks weighted to go well in the Old Newton Cup under regular pilot Ben Curtis, who has a 38 per cent strike rate on him having won five times and been placed on four occasions in 13 starts.