Racing: Wednesday preview

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Hawkesbury can outmanoeuvre a strong field declared for the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.

The six-furlong Group Three looks bang up to scratch, with the unbeaten Limato probably the pick of the crop.

But with trainer Henry Candy not quite convinced he has the three-year-old gelding right where he wants him, Hawkesbury is taken to capitalise.

Godolphin’s inmate has only raced five times, but he showed as a youngster that this step into Group class should not be an issue.

Second-placed finishes behind Belardo and Fannaan add weight to that theory, while he might also be a shade fitter than most of his rivals after having won a decent conditions stakes at Wolverhampton in January.

Charlie Appleby’s grey son of Shamardal is undeniably progressive, with the decision to have him gelded looking a wise move judged by his Wolves rout.

This is much tougher, of course, but he is well admired by his in-form trainer and has winning form on fast ground, when he breezed seven lengths clear of the 102-rated Russian Punch at Doncaster last June.

The outcome of the Longines Sagaro Stakes could be dependent upon the ground, which is currently on the brisk side.

There is rain forecast, though, and that would be a significant boon to horses like Tac De Boistron.

Be that as it may, a fully-fired-up Forever Now may prove a little sharper at this early stage of the season.

Pleasant Valley had a good time of things last year, progressing to a mark of 90, and is a trustworthy ally in the Ladbrokes Mobile Fillies’ Handicap at Pontefract.

Selections -

Ascot: 2.25 Gifted Master, 3.00 Hassah, 3.30 Forever Now, 4.05 HAWKESBURY (NAP), 4.35 Infantry, 5.10 Saigon City.

Pontefract: 2.00 Sixth Sense, 2.35 Fallen For A Star, 3.10 Westwood Hoe, 3.45 Pleasant Valley, 4.15 Sparring, 4.45 Special Venture, 5.20 Pabusar.

Cheltenham: 4.50 Noble Ben, 5.25 Legal Legend, 5.55 Repeat Business, 6.30 Consigliere, 7.05 Kazuri Kate, 7.40 Gotoyourplay, 8.15 Gauvain.

Lingfield: 4.40 Masipa, 5.15 Steppe Daughter, 5.45 Francisco, 6.20 Dat Il Do, 6.55 Euthenia, 7.30 Nigel’s Destiny, 8.00 El Duque.

Punchestown: 3.40 Egyptian Warrior, 4.20 Aklan, 4.55 Shaneshill, 5.30 Don Cossack, 6.05 Charbel, 6.40 Bright New Dawn, 7.15 First Figaro.

Wolverhampton: 1.45 The Happy Hammer, 2.15 Rocky Rebel, 2.45 Frontier Fighter, 3.20 Midlight, 3.55 Lucky Clover, 4.30 Doc Charm, 5.05 Kingswinford.

Double: Hawkesbury and Forever Now.