Six Wednesday selections covering both codes

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The horse racing ambassador picks out his fancies for Wednesday with flat racing at Newmarket and jumps at Cheltenham.

The weather might not have you believe it, but the seasons are a-changing and nothing really highlights this as much as this week’s racing, where Classic trials lie cheek by jowl with the final throes of the jump season and the trainers’ title going right down to the wire.

ITV4 have six live races on Wednesday from the headquarters of both codes, covering four from the middle day of Newmarket’s Craven meeting alongside two very competitive races from Cheltenham.

First up is a large-field sprint handicap where last year’s Ayr Gold Cup winner SIGNIFICANTLY


(13:50 Newmarket) makes his seasonal return. He ran second to Creative Force over course and distance at this meeting in 2021 when trained by Karl Burke. After losing his way, he was rejuvenated by the switch to Julie Camacho and ended the season with terrific runs in both the Portland and the Coral Sprint Trophy, as well as the victory at Ayr. The stable usually have their horses fit and ready to run and showed their ability with sprinters with their handling of Shaquille last season, and Montassib has already franked the York form with a dominant return at Doncaster.

Over to Cheltenham, where things are no less competitive for an 18-runner 2m 4f handicap hurdle. Here the main question is whether LALLYGAG


(14:05 Cheltenham) can recapture anything like the form he showed when third in the race last year after a season that has been very disappointing. This was partly due to him not looking to have the heart for chasing, but he fared little better on his return to hurdling at Taunton, although the ground would have been softer than ideal. A drying surface, a falling handicap mark and the fact that Paul Nicholls can do with every penny in the trainers’ battle means, at a double-figure price, he is worth risking against Titan Discovery – who has had a fine season but also several tough races – and the less exposed Sea Invasion.

The first of the three-year-old trials, the Fielden Stakes, is next up. This is usually just a minor skirmish in any Classic aspirations though Golden Horn did win the race in 2015 on the way to Derby and Arc glory. JAYAREBE


(14:25 Newmarket) and Native American can, however, provide a Classic pointer to Rosallion as they were behind him in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere last time. Jayarebe finished just one place behind Native American on only his second career start and he had made a very impression over on the July Course in August when shocking long-odds on favourite Broadway Act. Not looking short of stamina on either outing, he could run better than his odds suggest.

A stable tracker horse runs in the feature race at Cheltenham with IN EXCELSIS DEO


(14:40 Cheltenham), who looked unlucky not to be involved in the finish to the Plate at the Festival having been badly hampered four out before flying up the hill. Luck has hardly been on his side this campaign after he had come down at the last at Sandown when looking the likely winner. The return to 2m 4f looked to suit last time and he has a solid record at the track. A change of fortune should see him finally land a decent prize this term.

The last two races on the ITV coverage from Newmarket are both Group 3s, starting with the Earl of Sefton Stakes for the older horses over 9f. OTTOMAN FLEET


(15:00 Newmarket) may not have had the same sort of success in Dubai this winter, but has had time to freshen up after a rare below-par effort last time and can repeat his victory of twelve months ago. His overall profile is a consistent one and he has an excellent record at the track. It does look a stronger renewal than last year but Royal Rhyme would prefer softer ground and it may be Embesto who provides most opposition.

The major Classic trial of the day is the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn over 7f, and if there is a horse to make a ripple in the ante post markets for the 1000 Guineas it looks likely to be DANCE SEQUENCE


(15:35 Newmarket) who won both her starts at two, including the Listed Oh So Sharp Stakes here in October. She is around the 5/1 mark for the Guineas and has to win here to justify that sort of price. It is also worth repeating the Aidan O’Brien stat mentioned the other day – before Capulet’s defeat at Chelmsford – regarding his record on UK courses in the month of April. Just eight winners from 94 runners at an Actual/Expected ratio of just 0.41 suggests his runners during this month are usually just sighters for the better ones in the months to come.

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