The £90,000 Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes is Saturday’s TV feature race, the Haydock Park highlight at 3.45pm being the seventh and final race on the day’s terrestrial roster.
Still buzzing from winning the Newmarket Guineas with Galileo Gold, man of the moment Hugo Palmer has the favourite, as the Newmarket man bids to make it six wins on the bounce for Gifted Master.
He’s fit, bang in form and clearly won’t be easy to beat, but the top-rated horse in the field is also the last horse to beat him…
Step forward the Mark Johnston-trained Buratino, rated two pounds above the market leader, and who beat Gifted Master in a Newmarket novice 12 months ago.
Since then he’s won a Group 2 at Royal Ascot, plus has traded blows with the likes of Air Force Blue (in the season he was champion juvenile) and Shalaa at Group 1 level.
Forgive him his stamina-sapping experiment up in trip in the Guineas, and instead focus on the fact that with a run under his belt and ground drying out, he could pose a massive danger to the favourite.
Buratino looks great value at 11/2 each way (three places thanks to the dead eight) with any of BetVictor, Hills or Skybet.
Also at Haydock, it’s fascinating to see legendary Irish trainer Tony Martin in town, as the Meath maestro brings over Laganore to contest the mile and a half Pinnacle Stakes at 2.35pm.
Unlike Buratino, it’s a step up in trip which has been the making of her, running out a convincing winner the last twice, as she has tackled handicaps at Leopardstown and Navan.
This is a jump in grade as she takes on a proven Group 1 performer in the shape of John Gosden’s Journey, but if Martin is ready for her to take the plunge then she looks worth following, especially with Kieren Fallon up and the mare crossing the Irish sea to run here.
There could be more improvement to come as she takes in this mile and a half test for the first time, and don’t forget Martin has lofty ambitions for her, as displayed by her upcoming entry in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Lastly, over the sticks at Ffos Las there could be a winner to be had on Saturday night, with the Dr Richard Newland inmate Gran Maestro fancied in the two mile handicap hurdle (8.35pm).
The winner of a listed summer hurdle at Market Raspberry last year, he’s fit from a recent run, has dropped a couple of pounds, and now has Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle.
He isn’t the easiest horse to catch right, but Newland and Twiston had a good winner together at Fakenham on Sunday, and can make it two for the week.
8.35 Ffos Las – Totepool Handicap Hurdle – 3 Gran Maestro (win)