It’s Ayr Gold Cup day this Saturday but with that race on the impossible side of difficult from a betting point of view, these five little belters look the way to go when it comes to grabbing some good value this weekend:
1.45 Newbury (World Trophy Stakes – Group 3) – EQUILATERAL
When discussing Michael Dods versus Charlie Hills in a sprint race you’d be forgiven for thinking that the subject matter might be Mabs Cross v Battaash, but on Saturday it’s the turn of the respective yards’ slightly lesser lights to shine.
Dods is represented by the likely favourite here, Dakota Gold, a four-time winner this season who has simply gone from strength to strength since scoring at York in July. The five-year-old gelding went on to win the Great St Wilfrid, another valuable York handicap and latterly a Listed race back on the Knavesmire which is a track that has appeared to suit him well.
His trainer reckons this course, as well as the drop to the minimum trip, should be in his favour but while his form is admirably consistent it has arguably topped out now making him vulnerable to one that can improve somewhat.
That improver could be four-year-old Equilateral, Charlie Hills’ son of Equiano who went mightily close to beating Mabs Cross earlier this season in the Palace House Stakes.
He’s rated just 2lbs lower than Dakota Gold is now, he’s bound to come on from his own Listed win for which his trainer said he was undercooked, and in fact has always been thought of as a sprinter who could compete at the very highest level eventually.
On the balance of things Equilateral then, under Ryan Moore once again, is great value against Dakota Gold with the likes of Hit The Bid and Judicial potentially fighting on for place money.
2.20 Newbury (Legacy Cup Stakes – Group 3) – WADILSAFA
Formerly known as the Arc Trial of course, this 1m3f event is no longer seen as a viable stepping stone to the big one in Paris but yet it could still be won by a decent middle-distance type for the future.
I’m saying that because I believe it’s worth taking a little chance at small stakes on Wadilsafa. After beating fine prospect Herculean last season, the son of Frankel went on to win at Listed level before circumstances went against him, most notably the ground.
Having been campaigned largely over a mile it’s an interesting move of Owen Burrows’ to see him go up to this sort of trip on good racing ground, something that could bring the best out of a horse who is only four years of age and has raced just nine times to date.
To put the numbers into context, the strong favourite is Desert Encounter who has won his last two races. He’s officially rated 115 but carries a 3lb penalty. Wadilsafa has been rated 112 this term, effectively the same as his rival with the penalty taken into consideration, and he is yet to reach his peak.
These two aren’t alone in having an opportunity to win of course with the likes of Pondus and Waldstern not without chances, but at tissue odds of around the 8/1 mark in a five-runner race our boy is simply too good a price to ignore.
2.25 Catterick (Nursery Handicap) – ETON COLLEGE
This is only a small race, but it’s one in which Mark Johnston’s Eton College should simply outclass his rivals. Carrying 10st4lbs having reached a fair mark of 87 after a win at Ascot in July, he has a bit of a burdensome weight but also the class to carry it all the way home.
He was right back to form last time when staying on well in a decent race at Chelmsford over six furlongs and now he steps up to seven, something that should drag further improvement out of him and make him too hot to handle for the likes of Kuwait Shield and Little Ted. Franny Norton takes the ride.
2.55 Newbury (Mill Reef Stakes – Group 2) – PIERRE LAPIN
The obvious one on the book here is King Power’s Mystery Power, trained by Richard Hannon. Although well beaten behind Pinatubo at Goodwood, the No Nay Never colt had won his first two starts including the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at HQ over seven furlongs.
He steps down to six here, which may or may not be to his liking, and has a clear form chance but there are holes you can pick in his profile too.
A proper, close look at his Superlative win makes one think his subsequent rating of 112 was a little generous. He’s down to 111 now after a below-par run and is penalised 3lbs, leading to us being able to treat him as a 108 at horse at the very most, though probably a tad lower in all honesty giving rivals a reasonable level to aim at.
That brings in fine debut winner Pierre Lapin of Roger Varian’s yard. Having been very good when taking care of a Godolphin horse at Haydock back in May he’s been off the track, but he would not be thrown straight back in at this level if he weren’t showing the right signs at home.
He was always highly thought of, going off even-money favourite last time, and is entered in both the Middle Park and the Dewhurst Stakes later in the season. What we have to decide is; do we think he would have been rated higher than Mystery Power by now had he been able to run since May? The answer for me is yes and so I think he’s value to take this race. Shadn is next on the list.
4.00 ParisLongchamp (Prix du Prince d’Orange – Group 3) – DUBAI WARRIOR
This is a cracking Group 3 contest for the three-year-olds and it will be fascinating to see one-time Derby hopeful Dubai Warrior move up to a mile-and-a-quarter.
True, he was beaten in a handicap last time, but he’s on a sharp upward curve and can take a step towards competing in Group 1’s here which is what is ultimately expected of him. All things considered, Winterfuchs and Soudania are the best of the rest.