Friday, 20 September 2019

Saturday 20th September (Ayr Gold Cup Day): Equilateral Shaping Up Well for Hills

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.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Saturday 14th September 2019: Gosden Colt the Logical Leger Choice

In terms of quality we have not seen a weekend like this in quite a while.  Both the English and Irish St Legers are run as well as the Irish Champion Stakes and that trio of races are just the collective tip of the iceberg.

As for betting value some of these contests have provided us with some great opportunities to take favourites on, especially at Doncaster as you’ll see below, although in the Leger itself it seems Logician is very much the one to side with.  Here’s the best of the betting action on the flat: 

2.05 Chester (Stand Cup Stakes – Listed Race) – BEN VRACKIE

Three-year-olds Manuela De Vega and Durston will undoubtedly be dangerous in receipt of weight around here, but with a bright future still ahead of him over this mile-and-a-half trip John Gosden’s Ben Vrackie could prove to be just too good on this occasion.

His two main rivals have reached marks of 103 and 100 now while the selection is rated 106, but even on those numbers there is yet more we can pick apart.  Ben Vrackie reached 104 by the end of his 3yo campaign and started off this year with a very fine second to Baghdad at Royal Ascot, meaning that with natural improvement connections will expect him to reach 110+.

He’s only down at his current level because of a below-par performance at HQ and a 7th at York in the £1million Ebor, not exactly a bad run, but back at this trip he can reach his peak and that should prove too hot for the others to handle.

2.25 Doncaster (Park Stakes – Group 2) – TURJOMAAN

Assuming this race comes down to the selection and likely favourite Shine So Bright, this really is a great betting opportunity at the odds given that Turjomaan appears to be every bit as good as his main rival, possibly better in fact, and yet is in receipt of 3lbs in weight.

Shine So Bright nudged out Laurens last time over this trip across at York whereas Turjomaan was second in a Group 3 at Goodwood, although he will have come on since and will appreciate racing conditions here more.  He has had more time off the track to freshen up, will appreciate this drop down in trip and is simply overpriced at around the 3/1 mark for trainer Roger Varian and jockey Dane O’Neill.

3.00 Doncaster (Champagne Stakes – Group 2) – ROYAL CRUSADE

Both Threat and Juan Elcano are proven at this sort of level and both can eventually make their mark as three-year-olds, however taking into account his slow start and the way in which he finished his race the debut performance of Royal Crusade was one of the best you’ll see in a given year and he looks like a Group 1 horse for sure.

The son of Shamrdal is in the Middle Park and the Dewhurst at Newmarket with those races certainly looking his level and so he may take this race in his stride for trainer Charlie Appleby.

3.35 Doncaster (St Leger – Group 1) – LOGICIAN

True, he’s a very short price after his impressive Great Voltigeur win, but with some good value bets elsewhere to help boost the coffers it’s worth mentioning that Logician very much is the rightful shorty for the Leger and can be backed if prices remain at around the even-money mark.

Trainer John Gosden has been quick to point out that his staying the extended mile and six furlong trip isn’t guaranteed and that he’d be better with a little more juice in the ground, but on the former point his running style and profile suggest he’ll see it out as well as any rival in this field and on the latter it’s the same for basically the lot of them.

With those things in mind this taking roan remains the one to be on, with the race for second place being contested by several including Sir Dragonet, Il Paradiso and Sir Ron Priestley.

4.15 Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes – Group 1) – ELARQAM

This is a race chock full of quality, just as it should be.  We shouldn’t discount Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck here who has more to give yet, but it’s simply a mark of the level this race is at that Ryan Moore rides something else and Madhmoon, who chased him home at Epsom, is more strongly fancied at this trip.

Madhmoon warmed up for this race with an easy success over a mile and he is definitely a 120+ horse in the making, but to exactly what degree we simply don’t know.

Similar things can be said of the impressive looking Headman who has won two races in France very well when things weren’t in his favour at Group 2 level, but again while he is certainly a Group 1 horse in the making we don’t know just how far he can go or whether he’ll do it as early as this season with his trainer sounding cautious.

Ryan Moore rides the admirable filly Magical and they are very worthy favourites.  Not outside of the first two in eight runs since winning at Ascot last year, she has made a habit of chasing home Enable but while this would seem easier on paper it could also be true that horses such as Enable and Crystal Ocean have been rather “dragging” the best out of her.

Elarqam is a different proposition.  Eventually proving to be the horse we all thought he was before injury, a very fine win at Group 2 level at York was backed up by a rather unlucky-in-running third behind superstars Japan and Crystal Ocean and ahead of King Of Comedy in what looked a vintage Juddmonte International last month.  He can go one better here at Group 1 level to ultimately back-up his amazing breeding.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Saturday 7th September: Invincible to March to Group 1 Glory at Haydock

Saturday’s action is jam packed with plenty of competitive handicaps backing up some good Group race action, highlighted of course by Haydock’s Group 1 Sprint Cup at 4.10.

There’s lots of value to be had if you look around, but on a busy betting day it seems these six horses are the ones to concentrate on. 

1.50 Haydock (Handicap) - FIRST IN LINE

This 1m6f race could be quite some test for the field in the forecast soft ground, but in John Gosden’s First In Line we have a horse with all the right credentials to see this out right to the line.

Having only run four times the son of New Approach has plenty of improvement left in him yet this season and despite a good second at York on quick ground last time out, there’s plenty in his profile to encourage us as regards the going.

As well as his breeding we can point to what was a very easy novice win for the three-year-old at Doncaster two outings ago on rain-softened turf to make us believe conditions will be fine, while his new handicap mark of 100 still doesn’t really represent how good he is.

Both Alan King’s Truseshan and Ralph Beckett’s Moon King are on good runs and can be dangerous, though perhaps now just don’t have as much left to give as Frankie Dettori’s mount.

2.05 Kempton (September Stakes - Group 3) - ROYAL LINE

John Gosden of course won this last year with a genuine superstar and while Royal Line is no Enable, he doesn’t have a Crystal Ocean up against him either.

The lightly-raced Metropolitan and November Handicap winner had plenty of options in the book, but connections have settled on what looks just the right one in terms of ground, trip and class.

The likely favourite is Godolphin’s Best Solution based on his exploits abroad, particularly in Australia, but the thought is that he may just need this run and so will be vulnerable to a smart rival off level weights.

In a competitive renewal the likes of Mootasadir, Pivoine and the filly Sun Maiden cannot be ruled out, but at likely odds our boy seems value enough to shake them off.

3.15 Kempton (London Mile Handicap) - MOTAWAJ

Back on Kempton’s all-weather and despite this being a naturally competitive race, having been given a good draw Roger Varian’s Motawaj can regain his progressive thread after not doing so well on turf last time.

Back over this course and distance in July Motawaj routed his opposition in the style of a good animal, albeit at a lowly level, and now off a mark still some way short of what he’s capable of he can land win number three of his career under Jack Mitchell.

His opposition is plentiful of course so there are each-way bets to be had, Gossiping, Freeloading and Kuwait Currency all being expected to do well.

3.35 Haydock (Old Borough Cup Handicap) - ALRIGHT SUNSHINE

A difficult staying handicap to solve right enough, but as a progressive handicapper who is two from two in such races on the level and trained by a man in Keith Dalgleish who knows how to get the job done in such races this Alright Sunshine looks like a fair bet.

A winner at Ripon and Musselburgh already, the 4yo Casamento gelding could just take his form to a new level here when it’s needed and take care of the likes of Corelli and Reshoun for the win.

4.10 Haydock (Sprint Cup Stakes - Group 1) - INVINCIBLE ARMY

On initial ratings it seemed we had a steal in this race in the shape of Ten Sovereigns at 5/1, but with both he and Advertise now out a rethink was needed and yet we could still have a great value punt.

Khaadem is all the rage after his Stewards’ Cup win but in the end that was a handicap, making remarks about Invincible Army being unproven at Group 1 level look silly when so many are backing the jolly.

In one particularly good Group race win James Tate’s Invincible Spirit colt blew away a decent field at Newcastle, that success having been achieved on slower than normal going at Gosforth Park with an uphill finish to contend with which gives him plenty of appeal in these conditions.

He’s good enough, there’s little doubt about that, so with in my opinion the two best now not taking part he has a great chance of Group 1 success.  Waldpfad and Brando are rated next on the list.

4.25 Kempton (Sirenia Stakes - Group 3) - HURAIZ

Strictly speaking on the book Clive Cox’s Streamline is the one here after three good performances, improving each time including here at Kempton, but where juveniles are concerned there is always something to come out of the pack and surprise one or two and I think it could be Mark Johnston’s Huraiz.

He’s two from two himself, and while he only just got there last time in a novice stakes at Newmarket these conditions can bring out much more.

Johnston would usually be more than happy taking in a conditions race or a nursery had this son of Sepoy not been showing too much, but with fancy entries in the book and this track set to suit an early Group 3 success could be on the cards for him and jockey Joe Fanning.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Friday 30th & Saturday 31st August 2019: You Can Call Me Al at Sandown

Those punters looking for early Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe clues should cast an eye over the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sunday in which Ghaiyyath takes his chance, but closer to home there are some good value betting opportunities across Friday and Saturday starting with day one of Sandown’s classy meeting.

The winner of the Solario Stakes has traditionally gone on to be top class with recent winners including Too Darn Hot, Kingman, Fantastic a Moon and Ravens Pass, so that race has to be the main focus although we could find even more value in the fillies and mares event.  Here’s the best of the action: 

Friday 30th August

3.15 Sandown (Maiden Stakes) – DISCOVERY ISLAND

This really does look like your atypical notebook race; a maiden event chock full of potential with Group 1 entrants galore meaning the scouts will be out in force!

Sir Michael Stoute runs early Derby hopeful Mars Landing although he will surely be a work in progress, liable to improve over time, his stablemate My Frankel being a much more likely type for the yard on this occasion.

Regally-bred newcomers Palace Pier (John Gosden) and Lord Campari (Roger Varian) are both in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes among other things and should be forward enough to go very well on debut, but they could be up against an equally promising colt by the same sire whose experience could just make the difference on this occasion.

The horse in question is Godolphin’s Discovery Island, who was well fancied on debut at Newmarket but was just about touched-off in what looked a very hot race indeed.  At the rate of improvement usually seen by Charlie Appleby’s runners on their second outing he should be good enough to see off even these good looking rivals to make his mark.

3.50 Sandown (Handicap) – MARHABAN

A small and select three-year-old handicap, one in which we should witness a resumption in improvement from Charlie Appleby’s Marhaban, a two-time winner on the all-weather at the start of the year.

This will be his second run since being gelded and he can be expected to reach a whole new level now, potentially making him well-handicapped for this race and able to beat the likes of Gin Palace, Lyndon B and Reeth who made the shortlist too.

7.45 Newcastle (Future Stayers Novice Stakes) – CAPE PALACE

This horse and the aforementioned Palace Pier (Sandown, Friday) mark the first time that Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum has had horses trained away from Mark Johnston’s yard now that they under his banner rather than Godolphin’s, and this one makes perfect sense given that he is by Golden Horn.

John Gosden’s recruit begins a long journey towards hopefully emulating his sire in next year’s Derby in this breeding restricted race, one in which he has more potential to carry 9st 5lbs on debut on standard-to-slow ground across a testing enough seven furlongs than the rest seem to have and can be backed if not going off at prohibitive odds.

Saturday 31st August

2.25 Sandown (Handicap) – COUNTRY

This looks like a decent quality mile-and-a-quarter handicap in which, at the five-day stage at least, the three-year-olds dominated entries and either way it seems that it will need to be an improving type that wins it regardless of age.

William Haggas’ Dubawi gelding Country, himself a lightly-raced 3yo owned by Sheikh Ahmed, comes into this on a four-timer having scored in good style at Redcar (twice) and Ripon, his Newmarket trainer having had two possible races this weekend to aim him at.

He’s chosen this one and I think it’s a wise move given that this taking bay seems well ahead of the handicapper at this point and should be good enough to see off both Solid Stone of Sir Michael Stoute’s and Migration of the David Menuisier yard and keep his winning sequence going.

3.00 Sandown (Atalanta Stakes – Group 3) – DUNEFLOWER 

A decent renewal of this fillies and mares event, one that has been won by some very good types in the past although mostly when Sir Michael Stoute gets involved.  The crack Newmarket handler this year he has decided to run Jubiloso who looks set to go off a short-priced favourite, which is fair enough given her form.

She’s a filly I really like and she’s bound to come good at this level, but on this occasion she could be overtaken by the sharply improving Duneflower who is a much more tempting price at around 5/2.

I’ve written plenty of times about the fact that John Gosden, famously very good with fillies of course, doesn’t put them up in these races unless they’ve got a serious chance and in his daughter of Dubawi he has another who can reach a new level here under Frankie Dettori.

Jubiloso is of course next best on the list, with the others looking to potentially just have too much to do.

3.35 Sandown (Solario Stakes – Group 3) – AL SUHAIL

This is a race that has been won by some very serious juveniles in the past, often also when they’ve exhibited as much stamina in their breeding and form as speed meaning that is a crucial thing to keep an eye on here as regards the main competitors.

Charlie Appleby’s Al Suhail, by Dubawi out of a Shirocco mare, has just the right profile and it’s similar to the trainer’s winner of two years ago, Masar, who of course went on to win the Derby in good style at Epsom.

A very good debut at Newmarket when runner-up was followed by a bloodless win at Yarmouth by Al Suhail and it seems he has been put spot-on for this by his excellent trainer, Clive Cox’s likely favourite Positive and Mark Johnston’s lively Visinari showing up next on the list for minor honours.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th August 2019: Manuela to March to Goodwood Glory

With York’s fantastic Ebor Festival still going strong, we take in racing on both Friday and Saturday this week although given the prices we cannot possibly play in the Lonsdale Cup, suffice it to say that it would be brilliant for Stradivarius to do what Enable did on Thursday and get the job done at odds-on.

We are on a couple at the Knavesmire though and during Saturday’s excellent global action there are a number of good value bets to be had across a variety of tracks.

Friday 23rd August 2019

3.00 York (Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2) – THREAT

Richard Hannon’s colt is the obvious choice based on the formbook, but usually there is something in the profile of rivals to give us some encouragement but in this case, unless the son of Footstepsinthesand fails for any reason, they look to have far too big a hill to climb to get to him.

Despite the Hannon yard being tried and tested themselves at the top level, you can’t help but feel that had Threat been trained by John Gosden or Aidan O’Brien he’d be an even-money shot here, so at prices up to 2/1 he simply looks too big to ignore.

Having made an impressive debut Threat followed it up with a very good second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before going down narrowly again in the Richmond, but now he’s on a less quirky track we may see even more improvement from him which probably leaves the likes of Dubai Station, Pistoletto and Spartan Fighter with too much to do.

3.35 York (Nunthorpe Stakes – Group 1) – BATTAASH

This is a most intriguing Group 1, a five-furlong dash worth £400,000 and betting wise it appears to come down to Battaash, Ten Sovereigns and Mabs Cross.

Based on history as well as recent form, it remains possible that Ten Sovereigns could reach the very top of the sprinting game after stepping back in trip to great effect when winning the July Cup at Newmarket.  Aidan O’Brien pulled the same trick with Mozart and Stravinsky who both scored at HQ before taking this race and this son of No Nay Never has been priced up accordingly to repeat the feat.

Excellent mare Mabs Cross comes from a stable in great form, especially with sprinters, and as a Group 1 winner in her own right has to be considered.

Battaash on the other hand, as much of an enigma as he is, remains the fastest thing in the world on four legs and despite two past failures here there is no logical reason why he should dislike York as a venue.

He’s more mature now, so over this flat five furlongs we should see the Battaash that was rated 127 after winning the King George Stakes last year and that would be good enough to win this.

Saturday 24th August 2019

3.00 York (City of York Stakes – Group 2) – EQTIDAAR

Laurens will be all the rage here but I think she has it to do in these race conditions, while Speak In Colours and Shine So Bright are solid and have to be considered.

Eqtidaar though, a Group 1 Commonwealth Cup winner who has admittedly been disappointing since, has had a wind op and been freshened-up before returning.

Not only does Sir Michael Stoute improve horses plenty over time, but Sheikh Hamdan does not keep a talented colt in training all this time who could have gone to the breeding sheds unless they think there is more success to come on the turf and given time we should see more big performances from this son of Invincible Spirit who is overpriced.

3.50 Goodwood (March Stakes – Group 3) – MANUELA DE VEGA

This is a small field, but a good-looking one and while usually we’d be all over a John Gosden filly thrown into a pattern race, his Promissory really does have to reach a whole new level to take a hand here.

Sir Ron Priestley of Mark Johnston’s yard of course has to be considered and is, but Ralph Beckett’s Oaks fourth Manuela De Vega is the clear best of this field at the weights for me with the 1¾-mile trip looking right up her street.  She can take this before going back into Group 1 company, perhaps even in the St Leger at Doncaster over this distance in September.

6.20 Windsor (August Stakes – Listed Race) – WALDSTERN

John Gosden may fear the three-year-olds in the upcoming Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for his superstar mare Enable given the generous weight allowance they receive, but it’s something that he could use to his advantage here with Waldstern the beneficiary.

The visored gelding is a son of Sea The Stars and so while he didn’t perform too well over a rather extreme trip recently, he has continued to progress nicely at a mile-and-a-quarter and should take this extra furlong-and-a-half very well around Windsor.

Big Country, Crowned Eagle and with potentially more to come Lucius Tiberius are all very close ability wise and it could even be a lottery as to which of them is the most likely to challenge the selection.

10.44 Saratoga (Travers Stakes – Grade 1) – TACITUS

This is the best three-year-old race in the States bar the Kentucky Derby, and even without the presence of Game Winner or Maximum Security it’s a race that could produce the age group’s best challenger to the likes of McKinzie and Thunder Snow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Tacitus has done incredibly well in Grade 1 races this year without winning, but we have to bear in mind that as a large framed horse he has more improvement in him than his rivals and he has blown the start a few times and yet still gone close.

He wears blinkers for the first time, which he wore in his work this week, which should see him sharpen up and we could see a big performance.  Main rivals would seem to be Mucho Gusto, Code Of Honor and Tax.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th August 2019: A Divine, Wild and Glorious Message

It’s another terrific weekend of racing this week, if you look far enough afield that is!  With Glorious Goodwood behind us and York’s Ebor meeting very much around the corner we don’t get to see too many tip-top thoroughbreds running, but with pattern action in England, Ireland, France and the USA this weekend there is no shortage of quality.

Newbury stage the Geoffrey Freer Stakes on Saturday in which Morando and Sextant should have a good battle, but there’s no bet for us in that race.  Instead we spread our bets over two days, three countries and two continents in the search for value, begging with a juvenile of some promise at Newbury.

Saturday 17th August

1.50 Newbury (Denford Stakes – Listed Race) – JUAN ELCANO

Despite notable improvement from race one to race two when runner-up in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes over this seven-furlong trip at Newmarket last time on fast ground, Juan Elcano’s debut on a heavy surface at Haydock showed him capable of ploughing through a rain-softened surface and he will get home better than most of this field.

On top of that, he’s frankly the best horse in this race anyway with the contest representing a genuine drop in class for him, surely the idea being that he can grab a win here before perhaps being aimed at a Group 1 race at some point later this term.

Richard Hannon’s Sun Power and Thunderous of the Mark Johnston yard may prove to be best of the rest, though they’ll need to improve or rely on the selection being under-par.

3.25 Deauville (Prix de la Nonette – Group 2) – DIVINE IMAGE

Charlie Appleby loves a trip to France, usually getting a good deal of success and here we find out for sure whether this filly can handle group company on the turf by the French coast.

After a very taking debut on the all-weather at Chelmsford back in December, the daughter of Scat Daddy was sent to Meydan to contest races on the dirt track during the Dubai carnival where she improved greatly over the course of three runs, winning a Listed race and a Group 3 before things went wrong on Dubai World Cup night in the UAE Derby.

She has not reached her ceiling yet and will no doubt be brought into the race at just the right time from stall 7 under Will Buick, likely being good enough to see off Suphala and Etoile while John Gosden’s Terebellum is interesting and can show some serious improvement should the pace be sufficient.

3.35 Newbury (Hungerford Stakes – Group 2) – GLORIOUS JOURNEY

This chap may be a big price but he is potentially worth chancing to smallish stakes in what is a winnable Group 2.

I’d wanted to back him in the Group 3 Chipchase at Newcastle (may have got away with that one given the performance of Invincible Army), but instead he was sent to the seven-furlong Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in which he was beaten narrowly by Limato, a career best performance.

He was then given an assignment in the July Cup and I don’t believe it was frivolous entry, however in being on the wrong part of the track James Doyle had to try something different and decided to blaze a trail up the stands side, even going clear three from home before weakening out of the race.

Given the circumstances that day we can significantly upgrade his performance there, where he was beaten 5¾ lengths by Ten Sovereigns but more eye-catchingly in the context of this race, 3 lengths by Advertise who subsequently won the Prix Maurice de Gheest and had previously taken the Commonwealth Cup, both Group 1 events.

With the trip here arguably more to his liking, Glorious Journey is way over-priced to go well with Safe Voyage, Hey Gaman and Sir Dancealot all solid types at this level who represent the main dangers to the selection.

2.00 Del Mar (Del Mar Oaks – Grade 1) – HIDDEN MESSAGE

Yes, this is 2AM!  I’d recommend just waiting for the result on Sunday morning rather than watching live of course, but Hidden Message is worth a punt anyway.

When trained in England by William Haggas I liked this filly a lot; she made a decent seasonal debut when running on late and ran in a similar fashion next time out over in France.  With things much more to her liking for the Coral Distaff at Sandown on Eclipse day she was tipped again here and was extremely strongly backed for that Listed race.

Having gone clear of the field she had put the race to bed that day before just idling a little, so we can upgrade the bare performance and rating and with more improvement to come she’d compare well with most fillies in the States, certainly on turf.

Having moved over to Simon Callaghan now she will love the faster pace Stateside and she can prove her point right off the bat in this $300,000 race despite having to come wide from gate 14, Flavien Prat being just the right jockey to get her into a position to challenge.

Sunday 18th August

3.25 Deauville (Prix Jean Romanet – Group 1) – WILD ILLUSION

Strictly speaking and although they have the potential to improve, the likes of Worth Waiting and Red Tea don’t appear up to the task of winning a Group 1 while I Can Fly and With You possess the quality but have been beaten by the best fillies around, of which one is Wild Illusion when she is on her game.

Coronet is proven at this level but of course she is a recognised mile-and-a-half horse, whereas the selection has proven time and again that this 1¼-mile trip is right up her alley.

Wild Illusion has been a little disappointing this season in two starts but she’s been freshened up and remains a filly of some serious potential for the rest of the year, with hopefully another Prix de l’Opera targeted at ParisLongchamp.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th August 2019: Light Blush to Leave Backers in the Pink

Another major festival has come and gone and now the bandwagon rolls onto York as their Ebor festival fast approaches, in the meantime though there remain some solid betting opportunities on the flat.

The Arlington Million and Shergar Cup meetings are staged this weekend but neither has been kind in offering us a bet, Haydock and Newmarket on the other hand have and we kick off with the Listed Dick Hern Stakes and the return of a potentially very smart filly before we move to Sunday’s action across the Channel.

Saturday 10th August 2019

2.30 Haydock (Dick Hern Stakes – Listed Race) – FELICIANA DE VEGA

William Haggas’ Miss O Connor has been very well touted in advance of this race, understandably so having registered two wins from 2 since making her debut at Gowran Park.  Since transferring to Newmarket she has improved plenty, scoring by 11 lengths last time but there’s no guarantee she will improve sufficiently to win at this level.

John Gosden knows what it takes to get a filly up to scratch in Listed company and so his Muchly is respected every bit as much as the favourite, though they may both end up trailing in the wake of one who is potentially a bit special and goes well on the forecast soft ground.

The filly in question is Feliciana De Vega, Ralph Beckett’s three-year-old who made a great impression on debut last year.  She backed that up with a Listed race win at Deauville and now makes her eagerly anticipated return in a race she can take before moving up a level or two, perhaps even contesting Group 1’s before the year is out.

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

Addeybb is one of our old favourites and he will go off a short price for this race.  I’d still like to see him gain further Group race success, and his defeat on his favoured soft ground last time at York was as much about the class of Elarqam as it was about any of his own deficiencies.

That being said, he is a very short price against a competitive field and one that may be just as good, if not better in this ground and is a great value price to play at small stakes is this Wadilsafa.

Owen Burrows’ 4yo is rated only 4lbs lower than the jolly and has so far put in two performances that would make him competitive in this race, so bearing in mind that on slower ground he has the potential yet to improve even further he is great value to win this contest.

John Gosden’s Wissahickon is classy but is unproven on this ground and, while being by Tapit who gets plenty of success in the Belmont Stakes meaning he may want this extra test, there is no evidence to suggest he’s as good on turf as he is on the sand and so he’s passed over this time too.

3.45 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – LIGHT BLUSH

As is often the case with these juvenile races, a number of horses in this line-up are within a pound or two of each other in terms of private ratings, with West End Girl (Mark Johnston), Soffika (Sir Michael Stoue) and Dark Lady (Richard Hannon) all potentially capable of similar things.

The one for money will undoubtedly be Ed Vaughan’s Ultra Violet after her startling debut on this track over six furlongs in late June when she lost 4 lengths at the start, yet still managed to win the race by 8 at the line and comfortably too.  That is fantastic on paper, but she didn’t beat an awful lot and the performance doesn’t guarantee that she is Group class just yet.

Charlie Appleby’s Light Blush on the other hand is coming along nicely.  A very satisfying debut over this course and distance in mid-July was followed up a fortnight ago by a nice second in Listed company at Sandown, a race in which the daughter of Kodiac gave the impression she would come on again and that’s what I expect her to do under Will Buick, something that should make her good enough to score.

Sunday 11th August 2019

1.35 Deauville (Prix Francois Boutin – Listed Race) – KING’S COMMAND

Charlie Appleby does very well with his forays to France and this latest trip could yet be rewarded handsomely, firstly in this Listed juvenile race where the team’s King’s Command runs again under James Doyle.

After looking beaten on debut at Newmarket under Kerrin McEvoy having had a bad trip, the son of Dubawi rallied very well to win on the line.  He was beaten in the Superlative Stakes, though he was favourite to win that Group 2 event and if he’d even been placed that form would have been enough to win this.

So, with a return to form very likely he should have too much for the form horses here; Happy Bere and Coolmore’s Arapaho.

3.25 Deauville (Prix Jacques le Marois – Group 1) – LINE OF DUTY (each-way)

We’re stressing the each-way angle here, simply because at the anticipated double-figure odds we can play safe on Line Of Duty and at the end of the day this is a Group 1 and will not be easy to win.

What is not forgotten though, despite the disappointments of the Dante and the Derby where this horse ran poorly, is that Line Of Duty is a Grade 1 winner have taken the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs in fine style last November.

The drop back to this trip is in his favour, he’s been freshened up and will only have been thrown in at this level for his comeback if he’s still showing signs that he belongs in the top grade and let’s face it, he’s in a yard run by a guy who would know.

Watch Me, Romanised, Shaman and Study Of Man are all capable and will be among his challengers, but a place will be expected by the Godolphin team.