Reading Time: 4 mins

9-4 NAP STRIKES AS DAQMAN WINS THE DEBATE: It was not quite midnight but the end of a long day nevertheless when Daqman’s reasoned arguments paid off twice in 25 minutes yesterday, opposing beaten 5-4 favourite, Vitare, at Windsor, and then napping a big-value Midnights Legacy (WON 9-4) at Haydock. There were no excuses for Vitare’s previous defeat and Midnight’s Legacy could defy a penalty for the step up in trip with his stable in cracking form. Bang on the button twice.

DERBY SPOTLIGHT ON A TOP TRAINER’S DILEMMA: Saturday’s Irish Derby is a race of virtual unknowns (don’t miss Daqman’s verdict) and new kids on the block figure in two more Derbys in nine days. Daqman picks one held in the highest regard and puts the spotlight on a trainer’s dilemma in this difficult season.


HELD IN THE HIGHEST REGARD

New kids on the block. In this truncated season, are they ready to do themselves justice, toe to toe with more experienced rivals, in the ring of big races which includes three European Derbys in nine days.

Newmarket workwatchers are particularly keen to see which way Sir Michael Stoute will go with Highest Ground.

Sir Michael has struck a seam of form this week with three winners out of four under Ryan Moore before his last runner, Sovereign Grant, was fatally injured at Haydock yesterday.

Stoute nurses and nurtures his horses with immense skill. He’s noted for his patience in developing the older horse, but is also the man who pounces with a virtual unknown when a Derby is up for grabs.

Which way will he go with Highest Ground, owned by the Niarchos family, already celebrating since the resumption of racing after their Alpine Star won an international victory in the Coronation Stakes, taking apart the best of America (Sharing) and a struggling English flag-holder, Quadrilateral?

Sir Michael won the Epsom Derby with Kris Kin (2002) after beating only three others at Chester in his prep race; following up immediately with North Light (2003), who had come to the big time after winning a five-horse maiden at Goodwood as a two-year-old.

When Workforce (2010) gave Sir Michael his Derby hat-trick, he, too, had won a Goodwood maiden as a two-year-old and been beaten in the Dante trial at York.

Frankel’s son Highest Ground had just one race as a juvenile, an impressive win at Leicester, and was kept to the lowest level for a recent confidence booster in taking a class-5 novice at Haydock, in what racereaders described as ‘a strong display of galloping.’

His entries in the next 10 days display the dilemma of what he might cope with at this stage: a Listed at Newmarket on Saturday or the Derby at the top of the grades the following weekend!

And the markets highlight Highest Ground’s potential: only 12-1 with the majority of bookmakers for the Derby; even nibbled at for the Arc de Triomphe at 33-1 and 40-1.


ALTHIQA BEST OF THE GIRLS IN BLUE

3.15 Haydock (Eternal Fillies’ Stakes Listed) A decent looking Listed event on the Haydock card and all eyes will be on the unbeaten Althiqa.

The Charlie Appleby trained runner made a winning debut at Thirsk but then was simply awesome when following up at Newmarket beating Cressida by seven and a half lengths in a novice event.

It was only a four runner contest so it’s probably wise not to get too carried away but she remains a smart prospect and should be able to handle this step-up in class. It’s interesting to note that she has had wind surgery since the Thirsk win and that already looks to have had a very positive impact.

The Appleby yard also run Spring Of Love in the second Godolphin colours. This one made a winning debut over this trip at Newmarket in the autumn and the form looks reasonably solid but she doesn’t hold any big race entries at this stage.

Boomer represents the 1000 Guineas form which, as I reported earlier in the week, is already looking a bit suspect. The Tom Dascombe trained runner travelled well enough but was ultimately outclassed finishing in 12th behind Love.

Jovial looks interesting for Sir Michael Stoute. She looks progressive and comes here seeking a four-timer but is taking a big step up in class.


ED DUNLOP FORM LOOKS RED HOT

3.45 Haydock Five non runners in this at the time of writing and the race takes on a whole new dimension.

The revised BETDAQ market is struggling to sort them out with Garden Oasis the new favourite – despite recent form figures of 5095335-5 and being a beaten favourite in his last two races.

I’d much rather look elsewhere thank you and Sootability has a big chance having only been beaten a neck in a class three at Redcar last week and Richard Fahey has her out again quickly before a 3lb hike in the weights takes effect.

I’m keen though on Ed Dunlop’s runner San Sebastian. The stable are in great form (5 wins from 21) and San Sebastian should fare better than he did on his handicap debut at York now dropped 3lb. He looks one of the few here capable of making quite decent progression.


BAKING HOT SUITS BAYSTON

7.40 Bath Officially good to firm for this evening’s meeting but on a baking hot day surely there won’t be much good left come post time?

Al Daiha is the favourite on BETDAQ but is 0-8 on the all-weather and was very disappointing when favourite at Kempton last time out. She looks a very risky favourite.

It might pay to oppose her with Bayston Hill who is a previous COURSE, DISTANCE and FIRM ground winner and those boxes might all get ticked here.

No world beater but she has run well fresh in the past and course specialists do well here. She is backed win and place to win 10 in both markets.

DAQMAN’S BETS (staked to win 10 points including place bet)
BET 3.3pts win (nap) ALTHIQA (3.15 Haydock)
BET 2.3pts win SAN SEBASTIAN (3.45 Haydock)
BET 1.8pts win and 6.8pts place BAYSTON HILL (7.40 Bath)


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