North Yorkshire trainer Bryan Smart expects a strong display from Alfa McGuire when the talented colt attempts to preserve his unbeaten record at Beverley on Thursday (April 26).
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 (2.35pm).
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.
Smart said: “He’s a lovely horse and has done exceptionally well over the winter. Alfa McGuire has to give weight away, so it won’t be easy as there are some nice horses running. mBut he looks fabulous and this is a nice opportunity for him.”
Richard Fahey has won the race for the last two years and is responsible for Shazzab and potentially exciting filly Exhort, who carries the famous Cheveley Park Stud silks. Faithful Promise (Mark Johnston), Mont Kinabalu (Kevin Ryan) and Placebo Effect (Ollie Pears) complete a fascinating line-up.
Smart could have a profitable afternoon at Beverley as he also sends three other Hambleton runners on to the Westwood.
He said: “Aerosphere is a first-time-out two-year-old filly, who has been going OK, and we also have Straightothepoint, who runs for the same owners (Crossfields Racing) in the five-furlong handicap.
“Trevithick won at Newcastle in November and is in good form, but he has to give a lot of weight away (in the Whistlejackets Craft Ale Bar Novice Auction Stakes). We’ve some nice chances at Beverley and I’d be perfectly happy to let the horses do the talking.”
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.”
Beverley's first meeting of the season last Wednesday (April 18) had to be abandoned as small areas of the course were waterlogged. There are, though, no problems anticipated ahead of the track's eagerly anticipated return to the Flat calendar.
Beverley head groundsman John Morley said: "The track is in great nick. We had 10 millimetres of rain on Tuesday night and the going is now good to soft, good in places. We might get a few more light showers, but Thursday looks a decent day with sunny spells and highs of 14C. The problem areas last week have now dried beautifully and it's all systems go."
Beverley's eight-race card on Thursday starts at 1.30pm, and also features two divisions of the Rapid Lad Handicap over a mile and a quarter.
The two races again recognise the remarkable achievements of course maestro Rapid Lad, who won 12 races at Beverley between 1983-89.