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Count on Octave to hit the right note

17 May 2018

Fresh from his success in the Betfred Dante Stakes, Oisin Murphy guides us through his Friday book of rides

The action comes thick and fast after the Series opening Guineas Festival at Newmarket. The Champions Series rolls on and  features not just one, but two races over Friday and Saturday. York’s Dante meeting features the MansionBet Yorkshire Cup on  Friday, before we head down to Newbury for the Al Shaqab Lockinge on Saturday.

The feature race on Friday gets the Long Distance category underway in 2018. It’s only an eight runner field but one that has a bit of depth to it. I’ll start with my guy, Count Octave, who I ride for Andrew Balding.  I was happy with him at Newmarket, I thought he ran very well. This is definitely more of his trip however, and he’s been working really well at home.

On all form Stradivarius rates the biggest danger in the race. He obviously boasts the best form in the book, but if there are any chinks in his armour Count Octave can genuinely beat him. Even if Stradivarius is at his best I’m confident that with a run under our belt; we should be going close.

Desert Skyline was a Doncaster Cup winner last season. He would definitely have a chance on his day, however there are a few nagging doubts about him coming into the race. He might have found the ground a little testing at Ascot the other day, but he’s going to have to really improve on that to get involved here. Also you have to keep in mind that that was only a week ago so this could come too quick for him.

Willie Mullins’ Max Dynamite on his Melbourne Cup exploits is entitled to be right there, but his form during the hurdles campaign has waned and age maybe catching up with him.

For me it’s John Gosden’s impressive stayer who we all have to beat.

The pick of my other rides on Friday is probably Angel Of Darkness who has run well at the track a few times. Her handicap mark looks fair and tactically if I can get it right, she could go really close.

Berkshire Spirit has taken a while to get the hang of things. He looked like he was going to get a win the other day at Wolverhampton but just got tired late on there. His handicap mark looks very fair in what looks a competitive affair, and if there isn’t a few well handicapped runners in the field I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have a good each way chance.