Focus now on the Flat as we head to Newmarket this week-end

 In Latest News

May 2

Cheltenham and Aintree have gone, and now the focus here at Barbury is very much on the 2024 Flat season, and, with the Breeze-Up Sales coming up next week, we’ll be looking for Westerton to get May off to a flyer in what looks a very competitive Suffolk Handicap at HQ on Saturday.

Despite torrential rain and thunderstorms causing havoc around much of Britain, Newmarket has escaped a drenching, and early indications are that the ground for the three-day Guineas meeting might be no worse than good to soft.

The one bad run on Westerton’s 10-race CV came in testing underfoot conditions at Newmarket last back-end,  and, while it could be that he did not have the stamina for what was his first attempt at a mile and a half, Alan and his Aberdeen owners will probably be pleased to see the drying ground, especially in view of the fact that the official going was good to firm when Westerton won his only race at Sandown last July. He’ll appreciate the return to 10 furlongs.

The enthusiastic team behind the Henry Ponsonby syndicates might also be encouraged by the likely ground as their evergreen money-spinner HMS President, who is entered in the William Hill Heritage Handicap at HQ on Sunday, has run some cracking races when underfoot conditions were on top, none better than when beaten only a neck in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot last year.

HMS President, who has won his owners more than £200,000, might only have won four of his 36 races, but on no fewer than 15 other occasions he has finished in the first three.

They’ll also need no reminding that one of those successes came in this race 12 months ago. HMS President is 8lb higher now, so it will need a career-best performance, but he is the sort of horse who punters ignore at their peril.

Our other runner this week-end is Forever William over hurdles at Utttoxeter. He has been off since finishing lame at Taunton in November, but he had earlier dug deep to win at Plumpton, showing there that he runs well fresh, so Tom Cannon is looking for another solid effort.

We can’t sign off without mentioning Trueshan, who sadly did not fire as we had hoped in the G3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on Wednesday. Trueshan often needs his first run of the season, so, while he is an eight-year-old, he has looked plenty lively enough at home on the gallops, and he travelled well under the home straight at Ascot.

Obviously, Trueshan is losing some of his old dash, but he is still more than capable of shaking up the top stayers when he gets his right underfoot conditions. Don’t write him off yet,