Our first bet today goes in the opener at Doncaster, where Wild Hope looks a value alternative to the two three year olds at the top of the market.

The Kevin Ryan-trained son of Kingman produced a career-best when scoring on his only previous start here last July, winning off a 2lbs higher mark than today’s, on similar ground and in first-time cheekpieces.

Those cheekpieces returned for the first time in six starts over 7f at Leicester last time and he duly bounced back to form, staying on well in the final furlong.  The return to this trip is a big plus and it is interesting to see that blinkers are now tried – given the effect cheekpieces had first time, it could well bring about a little improvement.

That Leicester race couldn’t be working out much better – the first and fifth won next time out, while the sixth was beaten just half a length on his next start.  Dropped 2lbs in a slightly lower grade and with conditions in his favour, this looks a good spot for him and his rider, who looked capable enough when winning his first couple of races on the AW earlier this season, claims 7lbs.

1.40pm Doncaster – 1pt win, 0.5pt place Wild Hope @ 13/2 (William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Boylesports)


There is some really competitive racing at Newcastle this evening on day 1 of the Northumberland Plate meeting and I’m taking a chance on Astadash, who looks a big price in the Group 3 (7.20pm).

Unraced at two, she took an age to get off the mark for Kevin Prendergast last year, but did so on the AW at Dundalk in November on what was her final start for the yard.  Switched to Jessie Harrington by her owner/breeders, she looked the best horse in the race on her first start for the yard when fourth at Dundalk in April off a mark of 83, and showed marked improvement on that form when runner-up in a Listed contest over this trip at Ayr when last seen a month ago.

The bare form of that will need improving upon in this deeper contest, but she appeared to find plenty of improvement for the cheekpieces and saw her race out really well.  While more is needed, a Group 2 entry at the Curragh next month suggests connections feel she has improved again for that run and she her exceptional pedigree suggests there could well be more to come – her siblings include dual Group 1 winner La Collina, Group 2-placed Fox Chairman, Listed-winning Enstar and last week’s impressive Royal Ascot scorer Foxes Tales.  An eighth foal, the only two female siblings were La Collina (rated 111) and Entsar (rated 106, improved to win her Listed in first-time cheekpieces).

7.20pm Newcastle – 1pt ew Astadash @ 25-1 (Paddy Power, Betfair, 28-1 with Bet365, 22-1 elsewhere)