Friday, 17 August 2018

Saturday 18th August: Gustav Klimt To Brush Aside Hungerford Opposition

With York’s Ebor meeting just around the corner we have a slightly quieter than normal Saturday this week, at least in terms of quality anyway, but what quality we do have is covered here with value bets for Newbury’s three pattern races plus a well-bred juvenile filly set to reward our support.

There may be a great value bet down at Newmarket too as Richard Fahey sends a filly down there to contest the seven furlong nursery, but we start in Newbury where Charlie Appleby looks to get a busy weekend off to a flying start:

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1.50 Newbury (Denford Stakes – Listed Race) – GOOD FORTUNE

Charlie Appleby has a very busy weekend ahead of him on both sides of the English Channel and his exciting juvenile Good Fortune must rank as one of the biggest improvers in his whole yard.

Having made a below-average debut the son of New Approach took a wee step forward when third in a novice race at Newmarket before destroying his opposition by an eased-down 10 lengths last time out at Lingfield, a run which earned him a mark of 96.

Whatever the value of that form, he could win a nursery handicap off that mark no problem and so Appleby throwing him in here at Listed level is a sure sign he has improved yet again and he could get the better of impressive debut winners Boitron and Antonia De Vega.

2.15 Doncaster (Fillies’ Maiden Stakes) – MEHDAAYIH

As a filly, trained by John Gosden, foaled in April, by Frankel and not out until August it should go without saying that a whole lot of improvement from race one to race two is expected and I’m sure those at Clarehaven Stables will be very disappointed if she doesn’t come back with the spoils.

Although sent off favourite at Glorious Goodwood, she ran really very well in staying on into sixth place behind Accordance on her first outing and although that form alone gives her a chance here she is very likely to leave it well behind and kick on now under Rab Havlin.

Mark Johnston’s newcomer Quintada is one to watch in the betting and will be feared if the money comes, though our horse’s experience will count for plenty in this race and she ranks a fair bet.

2.25 Newbury (Geoffrey Freer Stakes – Group 3) – HAMADA

Despite being a Group 3 this race has consistently churned out very good winners, most of them Group 1 types in time and although it’s uncertain whether we will see anything of that quality come out of this year’s renewal we certainly have a decent little contest on our hands.

There are a few in here with chances, no doubt, with Raymond Tusk and Godolphin’s Walton Street certainly leading hopes however it’s the first choice of the boys in blue who looks the most likely winner.

The 4yo Hamada earned a rating of 107 last time after an improved display when winning a handicap but seems to be a deal better than that.  He’s not over the top having been off the track a while and then having just three runs this term, he handles softer going and no doubt has more in his locker so must be kept on side for now.

3.35 Newbury (Hungerford Stakes – Group 2) – GUSTAV KLIMT

On paper this is a very good Group 2 in terms of quality with four runners rated 113 or higher, however the ratings are the very angle I’ve taken and are why I’m backing Aidan O’Brien’s runner.

On the balance of things a run of somewhere between 115 and 118 is very likely from the Coolmore horse, something which puts him at good Group 2 or even Group 1 level, while the others in this race don’t look anywhere near guaranteed to run to their best mark in these conditions.

Sir Dancealot is currently on 116 but has hovered consistently around the 111-mark until the ground went fast, something he won’t get here, while Librisa Breeze’s similar rating seems false given that he achieved it primarily having won a Group 1 at Ascot in very soft conditions in a race which cannot be taken literally.  112 (ish) seems to be his real level.

Breton Rock remains consistent at around the 111/112 mark for the most part and the others are behind so all in all the numbers alone tell you what a solid chance the son of Galileo has.

Aside from all the other compelling reasons for backing Gustav Klimt this weekend we also shouldn’t lose track of a very simple fact; that this horse was the winter favourite for this season’s 2000 Guineas and remains the only horse in this field of Group 1 or at least potential Group 1 quality given a level playing field and good conditions.

3.55 Newmarket (Fillies’ Nursery Handicap) – AMBER SPARK

Richard Fahey doesn’t mind staying in the north and farming the races around York and Haydock and he is very good at it, so when he ventures down to HQ he doesn’t do it simply for the ride.

His 78-rated Amber Spark then looks to be great value in this fillies’ nursery given that many in the line-up would like things a little sharper; be it the trip, the course or the ground but there are no such worries for the daughter of Fast Company.

A constant improver since her debut in May, Amber Spark produced her best yet when staying on very nicely up the hill at Newcastle on standard to slow going over seven furlongs in a four-runner nursery, outstaying a Mark Johnston favourite in the process meaning few will be battling on as well as her at the business end of this race.

She is well up to this handicap mark and so should go close with Star Terms and Roxy Art perhaps giving her most to do.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Saturday 11th August: Cali To Burn Off Rivals At HQ

Ascot’s annual Shergar Cup takes place this weekend but as usual it’s a watching brief for most serious punters given the fact that almost none of the runners will have the assistance of their regular riding partners, though we do one have value bet in the international showpiece however in the stayers’ race

Mostly we turn our attentions to Haydock and Newmarket where there is a mix of pattern races and competitive handicaps, one including the well regarded Caliburn who as a son of Camelot is expected to reach a high level before too long.

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1.40 Ascot (Shergar Cup Stayers) – CLEONTE

All of these races are competitive but in the case of Cleonte we have a rock solid contender who most likely just needs to churn out another performance to a similar level as his others efforts this term and he’ll go very close to winning.

Ultra consistent this term without getting his head in front as yet, Cleonte has a liking for this track and stays the trip really well meaning he could give Per-Anders Graberg a much appreciated victory.  Jukebox Jive, Lord George and Hassle are chief among the competition.

2.30 Haydock (Dick Hern Stakes – Listed Race) – LA FIGLIA

Although to this point she hasn’t quite reached the heights we all expected, all is far from lost for the daughter of Frankel and on just her second run for Peter Chapple-Hyam she can show what she is made of at this level.

Beaten only a length and three-quarters in Listed company on her second ever start, La Figlia was expected to move up into Group company this year but after four runs the owners decided a change of scenery was in order and so she was moved out of Jeremy Noseda’s yard like so many others this term – though the exact reason is not known.

Her first run for her new yard was very encouraging; a comfortable novice race success under James Doyle marking her out as a future pattern winner having beaten the filly who was second to John Gosden’s well regarded Highgarden on debut.

Unforgettable Filly is one who could provide the biggest danger to our horse, while likely hot favourite Agrotera is far from a forlorn hope although the nature of her Royal Ascot handicap win was very different to this race and has perhaps led to her being overrated a tad, though she is capable of improvement.

3.05 Haydock (Rose of Lancaster Stakes – Group 3) – ELWAZIR

Owen Burrows’ son of Frankel has always been highly thought of but never rushed and having won in style on only his fourth racecourse start last time out he is a warm order to complete a hat-trick for the season in this race.

Despite his season opening victory Elwazir took a fairly big leap forward when scoring at Ascot last time and its notable that he did that when the ground got quicker.  Today’s fast going should be very much to his liking and it’s easy to see him getting a nice lead from one or two of these before quickening well to land a third consecutive victory and a first at Group 3 level.

Zaaki and Fajjaj look to be the biggest dangers this time while Mark Johnston’s improving colt Communique can come on again, however his latest rating of 103 may slightly flatter him and at any point he could blow up and put in a bad run before regaining his improvement.

3.10 Newmarket (1m2f Handicap) – CALIBURN

Always well regarded at home by Hugo Palmer, this improving three-year-old colt has been running over further and easily landed his novice race at Haydock at the third attempt before having his sets set a little too high in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy last time out.

Not only the level of the race but also the 1m5f+ trip got him comfortably beaten at Newmarket but it’s easy to see a) progress being resumed now he is down in grade and b) a much happier horse over 1m2f on softer ground in a faster run race.

While it’s true that his sire Camelot contested the St Leger, the fact remains he had the speed to win the 2000 Guineas at the start of his 3yo career and a look at the average distance covered by his progeny suggests that this trip is ideal for most of them and that can include Caliburn, so being asked to cover 1m4f+ so early in his career has likely blunted his performance thus far.

The fact he has been thought of as a group horse and yet comes into a handicap getting weight from chief rival Kaanoon means he could prove to be pretty well in and should be capable of landing this under Tom Marquand.

3.45 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – LA PELOSA

This is a well regarded filly of Godolphin’s who was so close to winning at Royal Ascot.  She was beaten over this trip at odds-on last time and flopped before that on this course however connections have not lost faith in her and neither have I.

She has some pretty lofty targets for later in the season and trainer Charlie Appleby thinks seven furlongs is ideal for her, something she may finally get the chance to prove today.

Inexperienced fillies Ejrar and Pennywhistle both have tons of potential but may lack a little something up against Brett Doyle’s mount, while Mark Johnston’s Ascot winner Main Edition has an obvious chance although she did not go well when asked to run here before and her 3lb penalty hardly helps matters either.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Friday 3rd & Saturday 4th August: Eminent To Return To Best In Glorious Stakes

With the Goodwood festival still very much in full swing there are arguably more betting opportunities on Friday than there are on Saturday, so with that in mind we start there on the Sussex Downs with four value punts before moving on to Saturday’s racing:

Friday 3rd August 2018

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1.50 Goodwood (Glorious Stakes – Group 3) – EMINENT

This looks trappy in that the principals all look like running within a few pounds of each other, however we always look for potential improvement when judging a future winner and on that score we could take a good price about this being the return to prominence of Eminent.

Last year’s Craven winner and Derby fourth had a great 3yo season but started off in dreadful fashion this term when running stone last in the Huxley Stakes at Chester.  He improved to run 5th of seven in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot before stepping down to a mile and running slightly better still in his four-length defeat behind Beat The Bank at Group 2 level.

He is coming to himself all the time and with the same rate of improvement he can reach a level close to what he achieved last season in this race, Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer being the obvious danger.

2.25 Goodwood (Thoroughbred Stakes – Group 3) – GLORIOUS JOURNEY

The chances of both Mark Johnston’s Threading and Aidan O’Brien’s Threeandfourpence are obvious, but in the hunt for value it’s hard to get away from Charlie Appleby’s contender Glorious Journey in this.

Looking like a leading juvenile after his Group 3 win at Saint-Cloud last backend, there was hope that this son of Dubawi would be a Guineas contender this term though his classic chances were dashed pretty early when he was well beaten in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

After that however he was only just run out of a Group 3 in France behind horses who have shown top class form since then and it seems that once he finally gets the conditions he prefers he will record a pretty impressive rating of somewhere over 112, enough perhaps to win this race at a good price.

3.35 Goodwood (King George Stakes – Group 2) – BATTAASH

A good winner of this race last year as a 3yo before going on to smash the opposition in the Abbaye on Arc day, Battaash can sometimes let you down but no more than most sprinters and only when conditions aren’t quite 100%.

That was the case at Royal Ascot in the King’s Stand when he was once again a little lit up and on the very fast ground his searing pace only ended up setting the race up for others, though back here it’s that lightning turn of foot which is in fact required.

In terms of ratings a run approaching the mid-120’s is on the cards and so even with a Group 1 penalty to carry, there should be nothing in this race to touch him unless he does something silly or falls foul of a bad trip.

4.40 Goodwood (Oak Tree Stakes – Group 3) – POETIC CHARM

It could be close between several of these improvers, One Master, Sequilla and Pretty Baby all being in with a live chance however the Godolphin filly Poetic Charm is the one who has always been thought of as a one for this level at least and can score.

With the benefit of hindsight this filly was a handicap blot when winning off 96 at Newmarket last time out and she’s worth a lot more than that now that she is maturing – something she can prove in this race at a nice price here.

Saturday 4th August 2018

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2.05 Newmarket (Chalice Stakes – Listed Race) – CRIMSON ROSETTE

I’m loathe to go against John Gosden’s filly Highgarden who, as expected given her breeding and her yard, is improving however I think there’s much more to come from Charlie Fellowes’ filly and she is definitely the value in this race this time.

Her close second to God Given at Haydock at Group 3 level now reads very well and her run last time can be significantly upgraded; the slow pace in a four-runner race definitely not to her liking and now she’s back in a more competitive environment the daughter of Teofilo can take a step forward and show her class in this field under Stevie Donohoe.

3.00 Goodwood (Gordon Stakes – Group 3) – SUN MAIDEN

In many ways this race revolves around Mark Johnston’s Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee, especially given his as usual great form at this meeting however his run at Epsom perhaps gives an unrealistic impression of his overall ability.

The bare fact is that he achieved a rating of 118 in the Derby and we can’t deny it, however that track can make or break horses and another fact is that in five outings this season he has not won a single race as yet.

On the balance of things he isn’t quite as good as the rating he received after Epsom and remains vulnerable should something improve – case in point Sir Michael Stoute’s filly Sun Maiden.

Having routed a maiden field she was kept for Royal Ascot where she ran extremely well to be placed in the Ribblesdale Stakes, only her third ever run, and looks like reaching a very similar level to the Johnston horse about now so with the 3lb fillies’ allowance she seems like a very good value second favourite.

Yet another classy filly could be added to the Yorkshire Oaks reckoning if she takes this race, so watch out for her and for what Sir Michael says after the contest.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Friday 27th & Saturday 28th July: Elarqam Back With A Bang

Saturday afternoon sees the main middle-distance summer showpiece, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and we have a tasty bet for the big one itself as long as the ground comes in our favour.

It’s not all about the King George though with the quickest juvenile fillies around going in the Group 3 Keeneland Stakes as well as a big field of handicappers contesting the £150,000 International Stakes at the Berkshire track.

Up at York we’ll be witnessing the long-awaited return of one-time classic hope Elarqam in the York Stakes (Group 2), Mark Johnston and his team desperately hoping for a return to form before the son of Frankel gets back on the Group 1 trail.

We kick off with a pair of good value punts on Friday’s racing at Ascot though, both of which looking great value; here are the weekend’s best bets:

Friday 27th July

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3.35 Ascot (Valiant Stakes – Listed Race) – BESHAAYIR

Having been tipped up on these pages before but having disappointed her backers, William Haggas’ three-year-old filly was stepped up in trip to a mile last time in an Ascot handicap and finally showed what she is capable of with an authoritative victory.

She won that race ever so impressively despite drifting across the track and there is still plenty of improvement left in her in conditions she likes.  The main danger may well be Pontefract winner Clon Coulis who should also appreciate this fast ground, however our filly carries quite some confidence into the race.

4.10 Ascot (1m4f Handicap) – ATTY PERSSE

Roger Charlton’s four-year-old was well fancied to restart his career with a first time out win in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock and, though he was beaten that day, the Frankel gelding stayed on nicely for third and will have improved a fair bit for that run.

His overall profile is one of a horse who can keep improving well beyond the reach of today’s rivals, though First Nation in the same colours can himself do better this year but will be doing this without the benefit of a run.

The Charlton yard know their stuff when it comes to these middle-distance and staying types, as we’ve seen with Withhold of late, and so once again the yard will be very confident.

Saturday 28th July

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3.15 York (York Stakes – Group 2) – ELARQAM

Owners and trainers don’t get it right all the time, we know this, and we have the issue of this horse going up in trip to 1m2½f for the first time but Elarqam really could end up making his price of anything odds-against look silly.

If you asked the average punter how many times Elarqam has run, especially given that he’s from the Mark Johnston yard, they would take a guess at 6 or 7 I’m sure.  It is in fact 4, making him a very inexperienced horse but one with tons of improvement still to come and especially now he’s going up in distance.

His performance in last autumn’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket (Group 3), arguably on unsuitable ground, was excellent as in its own way was his fourth to Saxon Warrior first time out this season in the 2000 Guineas where he was beaten half a length by Derby winner Masar and beat Eclipse winner Roaring Lion home.

That form is rock solid and he was always going to go up in trip, so a performance of around 120 and right in the Group 1 category would be more than enough to take care of Euginio and Forest Ranger and if he manages it, his price for the Juddmonte International will tumble.

3.40 Ascot (King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes – Group 1) – CRACKSMAN

There has been a lot made of Cracksman’s participation in this race, or the potential lack of it at the time of writing, for although he has been declared at the overnight stage his owner is still not keen to run unless the ground eases somewhat.

On that score we trust the trainer and so the deal here is that if Cracksman does run, we back him.  I am of the view that it was as much the 1m2f trip that got him beat behind Poet’s Word at Royal Ascot as it was the very fast ground while, although he prefers a little juice, he simply wants more of a stamina test than his Prince of Wales’s Stakes conqueror who was more suited by overall conditions that time.

Cracksman slammed Poet’s Word in last season’s Champion Stakes and although that was also a 1m2f race, it was run in stamina sapping conditions and it’s worth noting that Cracksman got upsides with two furlongs to go before making his staying power really count.

He may not be as good as that on faster ground, but the mile-and-a-half trip could make all the difference as well as the fact that John Gosden noted that his stable star was too busy looking at the fillies and not concentrating on racing at the Royal meeting so some improvement is expected anyway.

If he fails to run, Sir Michael Stoute’s other runner CRYSTAL OCEAN could be the one to be on rather than Poet’s Word, again because he will see out the trip much better than his pal though his price wouldn’t be much to write home about if Cracksman defects.

 

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Saturday 21st July: Haggas To Show Class In Irish Oaks

Saturday sees more classic action as the Irish Oaks takes place at the Curragh, though despite the usual strong presence from the home team it could be an English raider taking home the prize this time around.

Domestic action is strong and we see the return of a potential Group performer for Godolphin at Newbury as well as perhaps witnessing the coming of age of a very promising sprinter in the Hackwood Stakes at 3PM.

We have five value bets in all on what looks like a great racing day, starting with a decent Listed race.

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1.50 Newbury (Bet365 Stakes – Listed Race) – EMOTIONLESS

This five-year-old has been kept in training by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin and we may be about to see why as he makes a long awaited return to racing in Britain.

Looking top class as a juvenile when winning the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in very good style, things went wrong for the son of Shamardal after and his short three-year-old career was particularly underwhelming.

Having started to look something like his old self last winter in Dubai, he hit another problem and afterwards was gelded and held back for this year.  In January he put forward his best performance for well over two years when chasing home Benbatl at Meydan, the winner going on to Group 1 glory and as long as the change of scenery suits him he should go well.

He’s been held back until now for a return which for some is a negative but even a conservative guess at his performance level now puts him a few pounds ahead of Autocratic and as long as the price doesn’t collapse too much he should be worth a punt.

2.25 Newbury (JLT Cup Handicap) – QULOOB

Despite the presence of Willie Mullins’ Stratum, one of last season’s big handicap improvers Quloob could be the one to be on now getting a step up to a two-mile trip.

Having landed a hat-trick last summer before being beaten narrowly by Dubawi Fifty, Quloob started his season in June but in truth the signs were there that he would take some getting ready and so was sent off a 6/1 shot before running perfectly well in fifth behind Amazing Red.

The extra couple of furlongs and the extra time on his back means we should see a much improved performance this time from Hamdan Al Maktoum’s colt, one which should put him somewhere around the 100-105 mark so off a handicap rating of 98 he has a cracking chance and looks excellent value under Jim Crowley.

3.00 Newbury (Hackwood Stakes – Group 3) – EQUILATERAL

Charlie Hills’ sprinter has been thought of as a potential Group 1 horse ever since his devastating debut last season at Bath, the son of Equiano holding entries in the Nunthorpe and the Haydock Sprint Cup.

His grandsire is Oasis Dream and he behaves in such a similar way and after putting the now 102-rated Newmarket Winner Foxtrot Lady well and truly in her place at the beginning of the season (8 lengths, easy) it would have been no surprise to have witnessed him win a Group 1 already.

Alas he wasn’t at his best at Royal Ascot behind Eqtidaar in the Commonwealth Cup but he can bounce right back to form in this with what could be a devastating performance all going well.  Projection and Yafta are more favoured for the minors than Wokingham winner Bacchus who won’t get quite the breakneck speed he did at the Royal meeting.

4.45 Newbury (Fillies’ Handicap) – CEILIDHS DREAM

It may be worth taking a chance on a couple of things here; taking the form of Ceilidhs Dream’s win over Sea Of Class literally and that the return to a mile for her will be what she needs.

Ignoring her performance at Ascot over a mile when she did not give her running, the mile trip is what Ralph Beckett’s filly beat Sea Of Class (see below) over at Newmarket and on a line through others in that race, she also looks like having a few pounds in hand on the admittedly improving Homeopathic, who rates the main danger.

Whatever her form in the spring tells us, we know she is better than her current handicap mark and so on that basis alone she is worth a bet, especially if she does not jump off favourite.

5.30 Curragh (Irish Oaks – Group 1) – SEA OF CLASS

It’s unusual to see the runaway Epsom Oaks winner as third choice in the market for this race, however a look at Forever Together’s profile overall suggests she was a tad flattered by conditions in early June and simply outstayed rather than outclassed Wild Illusion.

Her stable mate Magic Wand on the other hand put the same horse to bed in these conditions at Royal Ascot and in fact was seen as the yard’s main Oaks hope after her prep at Chester in May only for conditions to go against her.

She is the biggest danger here no doubt, however the progress still to come from William Haggas’ Sea Of Class is something I can’t get away from and she looks the one to be on.

A very good debut in the spring has been backed up by two very facile Listed wins, the style of which has led to her being underestimated on paper for what she has achieved and she still has plenty of improvement to come now she’s being dragged along by better horses in a proper Group 1.

 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Saturday 14th July: Eqtidaar To Be Crowned July Cup King

A very busy day of pattern action around the country with Newmarket taking centre stage for the conclusion of the July Festival, the Group 1 six furlong July Cup being the highlight.

We have a value bet in that one as long as bets from Ascot and York on what is a high class day with plenty of Royal Ascot runners now making their return to the track.  Here are six good bets for Saturday’s action:

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1.05 Newmarket (Superlative Stakes – Group 2) – QUORTO

As usual in these races it’s all about untapped potential and there is more of that in the once-raced Quorto than in anything else in the field.

Extremely well backed on debut here to put in a taking performance, he beat Handmaiden that day who in turn was runner-up to another well-liked Charlie Appleby newcomer on Thursday with the form looking very strong.

He beat that decent field easily first time out and is bred to want further so this step up to seven furlongs is another positive meaning he should have too much for the likes of Cape Of Good Hope and the improver Daafr whose Newcastle run is likely to have been underestimated by most.

1.20 Ascot (Summer Mile – Group 2) – BEAT THE BANK

Andrew Balding’s miler was behind a couple of these rivals when sixth in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot (Group 1), but that was very much an improved run from his seasonal opener and he gets better as the season goes on so it seems.

He was thought of as a Group 1 horse last year and while it hasn’t happened for him just yet, it surely still could and so running in a Group 2 without penalties for what he achieved last season could see him scoot a couple of lengths clear in this given that the rest do look like Group2/3 performers.

Lord Glitters and Century Dream are feared most, but watch out for a potential upturn in Derby fourth Eminent’s fortunes now he is trying a new trip so long as his brain is working ok.

1.40 Newmarket (Bunbury Cup Handicap) – MUBTASIM

Last season’s Jersey Stakes third has spent the last year in racing purgatory; considered too high in the weights for handicaps and just not quite good enough to win Group races.  He very belatedly makes a handicap debut here off a mark of 105 though and frankly I don’t think that alone is enough to stop him.

A quick ground, fast-run seven furlongs is utterly perfect for him and the booking of Donnacha O’Brien is a strange but good choice.  He may well go on to land this at the expense of Gilgamesh who has been well touted in the run-up to the festival.

1.55 York (City Walls Stakes – Listed) – MUTHMIR

Only the bad draw got Muthmir beaten last week and he is just the kind of sprinter you need to catch in hot form, which the 8yo is right now.

Even his 3lb penalty shouldn’t be enough to stop him with seasoned performers Take Cover and Mr Lupton perhaps not at their best while young pretender Stone Of Destiny was dragged along by a top class field last time and may not get the same sort of feel in this race.

2.15 Newmarket (July Cup – Group 1) – EQTIDAAR

This is a fascinating renewal even without Merchant Navy and Harry Angel, but it could be time for a new kid on the block to grab the baton anyway in the shape of Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar.

Even at 12/1 his win at Ascot wasn’t a surprise to anyone in Sir Michael Stoute’s yard as this horse put in arguably one of the top two or three debut performances last season as a juvenile and then just took a little bit of time to reach his early potential.

He has not reached his peak just yet, despite now being a Group 1 winner, and will have conditions perfectly to his liking.  That can’t necessarily be said for favourite Blue Point who perhaps had his five furlong King’s Stand win set up for him by Battaash while US Navy Flag isn’t guaranteed to take to sprint distances.

Aussie raider Redkirk Warrior may well not be as good as his reputation while Dreamfield is not a no-hoper here, but still looks a little way off Group 1 level just at the moment.

2.35 York (John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes – Group 3) – DAL HARRAILD

Despite having to come back from a 105-day break and a flop in Dubai, William Haggas’ five-year-old is now the best horse in this race and is one who arguably but in his best career performance over this course and distance last year, despite the fact that he has an improving overall profile.

Andrea Atzeni’s mount should have too much for this field with Scotland and Dylan Mouth perhaps the ones to give him most to do just as long as he’s ready to go now after his rest.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Saturday 7th July: Derby Hero To Confirm His Superiority In Eclipse Showdown

It’s Coral-Eclipse day at Sandown on Saturday and although the mile-and-a-quarter championship race is by far the biggest on the card, it’s a competitive full day of racing in Esher with plenty of value bets to be had.

Watch out for the early start once again, something designed in recent weeks to ensure the racing does not clash too much with the World Cup in Russia, and we get going very soon with a punt in the five furlong Coral Charge at 12.20.

Haydock Park provides the supporting cast with the Lancashire Oaks potentially an important race for the middle-distance fillies in the context of this season and that could be won by a very familiar face.  Here are Saturday’s best bets:

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12.20 Sandown (Coral Charge – Group 3) – MUTHMIR

In the absence of a future star, such as last year’s winner Battaash, this looks a tight little race and it could be one of the seasoned performers getting his head in front in the shape of William Haggas’ superb servant Muthmir.

Winner of a Listed race last time out at Haydock Park, he likes these conditions and the title of Group 3 doesn’t scare me off even given his age as he is in the sort of form which looks like being enough to get the better of Judicial and Mr Lupton with Sir Michael’s Dream Of Dreams not likely to love the faster ground.

Clive Cox’s three-year-old Koditime is not out of this at a big price but may be best watched for now until we see the sort of improvement he is threatening, so it’s the old boy for us with Jim Crowley aboard.

12.55 Sandown (Coral Challenge – Handicap) – POUVOIR MAGIQUE

A stable like John Gosden’s doesn’t want to get a win into a horse to get into the Royal Hunt Cup just for the experience, they don’t need that, they do it when they feel their horse can win the big one so in trying just that at Newcastle we can second guess where this horse is at in terms of his development.

It went wrong on the tapeta and so his Royal Ascot run didn’t materialise, however he is back over a fast ground mile now and should have the necessary improvement within him to make this handicap mark look a little conservative.

James Doyle’s mount can take this ahead of Chiefofchiefs and usual suspects Escobar and Via Serendipity before perhaps moving on to better things.

1.10 Haydock (Lancashire Oaks – Group 2) – PRECIOUS RAMOTSWE

Having previously landed a gamble for us, Precious returns to action and is downed in trip but upped in class for this Lancashire Oaks test and she looks terrific value to keep her career on an upward curve.

Her win last time out in a York Group 3 was impressive given she probably didn’t want that entire 1m6f trip and so we can probably upgrade a performance which landed her a mark of 100.  That, plus the significant improvement trainer John Gosden gets out of these fillies leads me to think she can run right up to 108-110 now and that should be enough to land this prize.

The 4yo is by Nathaniel and the memories are still vivid of him winning the Eclipse in 2012 on the very same day his full sister Great Heavens (John Gosden) landed this very race impressively.  Horseplay and Aidan O’Brien’s Flattering are likely to give her most to do.

2.10 Sandown (Coral-Eclipse – Group 1) – MASAR

Unfortunately for the sport overall, oh so seldom do we see a good Derby winner take the not-so-easy route next time and actually confirm their superstardom however this time around I feel it’s different and the excellent Charlie Appleby could be the one to supervise the feat with his Epsom hero Masar.

Having routed his opposition over a mile in the Craven Stakes, Masar was beaten comfortably enough in the 2000 Guineas behind Saxon Warrior before reversing the form and taking the Derby in good style over a mile-and-a-half.

On pedigree and running style I’d say this trip (1m2f) is his ideal and we can expect even more improvement now, something which would make him nigh unstoppable even in a quality Group 1 field.

Old foe Roaring Lion may also appreciate this trip but we pretty much know what to expect from him now and his best would put him close, though he would be relying on Masar not quite giving his running in truth.

Aidan O’Brien is doing the sport a massive favour by being brave enough to send Saxon Warrior out again only a week after his Irish Derby disappointment and he is another who will appreciate this trip, however running again so soon is almost certain to mean we don’t see the best of him and so he is likely to be found wanting once more.

Forest Ranger is a potential improver for Richard Fahey but may or may not be up to genuine Group 1 level while Godolphin’s second string Hawkbill is carrying some confidence into the race and is the main hope of the older generation, however in these fast conditions he is unfortunately liable to be half a stone below his maximum.

3.20 Sandown (Coral Marathon – Listed Race) – PLATITUDE

A lot has been made of whether horses improve first run or second run after a wind operation, personally I take little notice of the information at all though it was striking that at 20/1 this Platitude won first time out in a handicap at Goodwood in May having had said surgery.

The performance could be owed as much to a change of scenery and routine as anything else though, now with Amanda Perrett rather than Sir Michael Stoute this 5yo has more to give and looks the only potential improver in the race to perhaps score at the expense of last year’s winner Nearly Caught.

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