NORTH Yorkshire trainer Bryan Smart expects a strong display from Alfa McGuire when the talented colt attempts to preserve his unbeaten record at Beverley today.
The son of Lord Shanakill won twice at the East Yorkshire circuit as a juvenile and makes his seasonal reappearance in the £12,000 Alan McGuiness And Robin Lunness Memorial Handicap.
It’s the first meeting of the year on the Westwood after last week’s scheduled season-opener had to be called off because of waterlogged ground.
Alfa McGuire, who was considered good enough to run in the Grade One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last autumn, is one of six declared runners for the seven-and-a-half-furlong contest.
“He’s a lovely horse and has done exceptionally well over the winter,” said Hambleton-based Smart. “Alfa McGuire has to give weight away, so it won’t be easy as there are some nice horses running. But he looks fabulous and this is a nice opportunity for him.”
The season might still be in its infancy, but Smart already has one eye on the £60,000 Beverley Bullet on September 1 with Alpha Delphini, who won the big Listed race in 2016.
Partly-owned and bred by Beverley resident Marie Matthews, the seven-year-old sprinter is a half-brother to Tangerine Trees, who won the Bullet in 2011
Smart said: “Alpha was only just beaten first time out at Musselburgh last month, but he’s very well and will definitely be in the Bullet again.
“It would be fantastic if he could win that race again as it would mean so much to Marie after what ‘Tange’ did.
“Alpha Delphini is a bigger, stronger horse this year and hopefully he can have a great season.”
John Gosden’s Crossed Baton entered the Epsom Derby equation when landing Investec Blue Riband Trial yesterday.
Frankie Dettori’s mount made virtually all the running at Epsom, with Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee back in third.
And the jockey believes the Khalid Abdullah-owned runner still has plenty more to offer. He said: “He did it well, but he is still learning. He got a little bit unbalanced, but it was nice.”
Bellshill saw off stablemate Djakadam to claim the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup and boost the chances of Willie Mullins retaining his trainer’s title.