Red Hand: Double Up for the challenge at Newbury to set the tone for the summer
DOUBLE UP was a source of minor frustration last year but he has been cherry-picked a nice opportunity at Newbury to set the tone for the summer.
Roger Varian’s sprinter must have at least been expected to win a race in 2016, yet he was continually found wanting when it really mattered.
It was not that the six-year-old was badly out of sorts, though, and only moderate improvement will be needed from him to get back in the groove in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap.
After all, memories of his authoritative victory at Ascot in the summer of 2015, when he claimed an exceedingly valuable five-furlong heritage handicap, should not be forgotten easily.
Nor, too, should the fact he got to within just two-and-a-quarter lengths of venerable speedball Take Cover in the Achilles Stakes at Haydock on his comeback last spring.
That is an important point as Double Up tends to go well at this time of the year, which makes a 170-day absence not necessarily off-putting.
The gelded son of Exceed And Excel has also fallen slightly in the weights and runs at Newbury from the same mark off which he finished a close second at Glorious Goodwood in July 2015.
With the fast ground not an issue, Double Up has quite a bit going for him in an open-looking race.
Ryan Moore has a good portfolio of rides at Newbury, with Maths Prize perhaps the pick of the litter in the mile-and-a-quarter conditions stakes.
The Royal runner was not ambitiously trained as juvenile by Roger Charlton, yet he still looked the part when successful at Ffos Las and at Ripon.
He then signed off for the year in a one-mile nursery at Doncaster in September and again shaped promisingly.
Maths Prize came nicely from off the pace and stuck at his job to finish third behind Khalidi on ground that might not have been quick enough for him.
That run now looks even better as the winner that day claimed top honours in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket on Tuesday.
This step up in distance, allied to a brisker surface, should stand Maths Prize in particularly good stead in Berkshire.
Moore is also likely to fancy his chances aboard Rainbow Dreamer, who runs in the two-and-a-quarter-mile handicap.
Prominent jumps trainer Alan King loves a dart at something like this, so his horses should always be noted in staying races on the Flat.
Having been on the go over hurdles since October, the four-year-old gelding will be hard fit.
He also raised a few eyebrows back on the level at Leicester a fortnight ago when he flashed home for third place in a mile-and-a-half handicap.
Flexible in terms of ground, Rainbow Dreamer is only rated 88 and should be in his element over this longer trip.
It could be a very rewarding day for Double Up’s joint-owner Alan Spence, who can take Listed honours at Bath with Priceless.
Clive Cox’s four-year-old filly is burdened with a penalty in the Whitsbury Manor Stud & EBF Stallions Lansdown Stakes, but it was hard not to have been taken by her classy success at this grade at Doncaster last September.
IRISH NEWS YANKEE
Nap: Double Up (4:40: Newbury)
Double: Maths Prize (3:05: Newbury)
Treble: Rainbow Dreamer (2:30: Newbury)
Yankee: Priceless (6:00: Bath)