Sofia’s Rock (Timeform rating 137p) – Haydock, Saturday 11 May
The form that Le Patriote showed in winning Saturday’s Swinton Hurdle looks to be strong, and it’s likely that Galway will be under consideration for him next, though a big eye-catcher in behind was undoubtedly the front-running Sofia’s Rock in fifth, whose aggressive tactics caused a muddling finish to Haydock’s feature contest.
A useful handicapper on the Flat, Sofia’s Rock was handed an opening mark of 140 over hurdles after winning two of his three starts in novice company over the winter, one which looked fair on the pick of his form on the level, and he shaped well under an overly-positive ride; pressing on at the fourth and still clear at three out, before losing momentum at the last and having no extra. He certainly didn’t overdo the front-running role for all that he was allowed to build a long lead, and he showed more than enough to suggest he’s got handicaps in him from this kind of mark. Indeed, he looks a natural in this sphere, and will continue to be seen to good effect in races where speed is at a premium. Dan Skelton
Raising Sand (Timeform rating 113) – Ascot, Saturday 11 May
The form of Saturday’s Victoria Cup at Ascot looks rock-solid, something perhaps helped by the presence of a single group, where four of the first five home were all bona-fide big-field specialists.
One of those was Raising Sand, who thrives at Ascot, winning the Challenge Cup over seven furlongs there last October, and he produced a most encouraging effort to finish fourth after seven months off; he was set a lot to do in a race where the leaders didn’t come back to the field like they often do, and finishing with a flourish, thundering home nearest the stand rail. That run gives plenty of hope for next month’s Royal Hunt Cup, in which he will be able to race off the same mark as he did on Saturday. Jamie Osborne
Building Bridges (Timeform rating 79p) – Leopardstown, Sunday 12 May
Building Bridges looked one for the longer term when finishing down the field on his debut at Gowran Park last October, and having returned after the winter break, he has steadily improved in two starts so far this season, building on his reappearance run to finish fifth on his first try over a mile and a half at Leopardstown on Sunday. He’s far from the finished article yet, going in snatches and still showing signs of greenness on his latest outing, but it’s worth noting that he stayed on well in the closing stages without being knocked about by Tom Madden. He seems sure to show his hand in handicaps, and now qualified for a mark, he looks one to keep an eye on with more improvement to come. Jessica Harrington