Friday, 18 September 2020

Friday 18th & Saturday 19th September 2020: Lazuli the Call in World Trophy

With a bumper weekend of Group 1 action now behind us, it’s back to slightly more normal matters.

While the status of many of this weekend’s races are maybe a grade lower than last time, they do offer us plenty of betting options across both Friday and Saturday, Newbury in particular looking hot.

The Ayr Gold Cup takes centre stage north of the border, but further south we kick off in Berkshire with a potential Derby horse looking to overturn the favourites on Friday.

Friday 18th September 2020

3.40 Newbury (Conditions Stakes) – MEGALLAN

This looked a strange betting heat late on Thursday as the market began to settle down.  Of the five runners, four are very close in the market with Yibir being the one for money after coming in from 3/1 to 2/1.

While the Godolphin runner looks like an improving young horse, he isn’t really at the level yet that should make him favourite ahead of Baradar or Jumby, let alone Megallan who is the selection at a fair price.

Fancied by some for next year’s Derby, Anthony Oppenheimer’s Kingman colt made an impressive debut before perhaps not being suited by the all-weather track last time at Kempton.  John Gosden’s representative is potentially top class and will appreciate conditions here this time under a jockey in Martin Harley who is very belatedly getting some good chances.

4.15 Newbury (Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes – Listed Race) – JOVIAL

This is an interesting seven-furlong Listed event, one in which several crack types at the distance are out in Glorious Journey and D’Bai, both representing Charlie Appleby.  Those two are strong of course, though the former may prefer things softer underfoot while the latter has just lost form a little bit.

The once top class Jash has plenty to prove now having never got back to his two-year-old form, and it remains to be seen just how good the 2000 Guineas sixth Kinross is over this distance.

The one who stands out at the weights however is Sir Michael Stoute’s young filly Jovial.  In similar conditions to this, she was a close second in a Listed race already this term and she should appreciate the way things look here.

She has bags of improvement to come and her stable is in top form too, giving us plenty of reason to believe she can improve past the main players in the market for this event under Ryan Moore.

Saturday 19th September 2020

1.40 Newbury (World Trophy Stakes – Group 3) – LAZULI

I’m a big fan of Charlie Hills’ Equilateral and it would be great to see him win this race, however his standout run behind Battaash when he was second in the King’s Stand was achieved at least in part because of his stablemate who dragged him along and in lesser company he may just about run his usual race.

His usual level is still decent, but perhaps is not high enough to repel a real improving sprinter and in Lazuli he may have met his match now.

Charlie Appleby’s three-year-old ran a blinder to open up and win the Scurry Stakes a few runs back, and now he has conditions to suit we should see him reach a new level under William Buick.  He really could be going places at this trip and it would be disappointing if he failed again with no reasonable excuse this time.  Wise Words is best of the rest.

2.50 Newbury (Legacy Cup Stakes – Group 3) – ELARQAM 

Mark Johnston’s Elarqam has had loads of chances, but he has also put in several top-level performances over the past few seasons and remains of interesting from a betting point of view.

Despite not winning any of his last five, he’s been a close third to Japan in the Juddmonte and second to Lord North at Haydock while he is a former winner of four Pattern events.

In the case of this race, a small four-runner affair, it’s possible that Jim Crowley will be able to bounce him out and attempt to make all which is what I can see him doing.  The other three all seem of a similar ability all things considered; Extra Elusive, Desert Encounter and Gifts Of Gold all hopefully fighting it out for second.

3.25 Newbury (Mill Reef Stakes – Group 2) – ALKUMAIT 

We’re taking a bit of a chance here in this juvenile Group 2, but at smaller stakes it could well prove to be worth it when siding with Marcus Tregoning’s son of Showcasing.

A number of those at the top of the market appear to want softer ground than what is on offer here, including Fivethousandtoone, Rhythm Master and Bahrain Pride.  This could leave Line Of Departure and Devilwala as the biggest challengers among those higher up in the betting, but this Alkumait is worth chancing.

Fourth on debut, this horse always looked an improving type and in fact did register a good time figure on debut.  Unsurprisingly, he won next time out at Glorious Goodwood and looked impressive.  He’s been left alone for the best part of two months and will be a different animal now, something we can take advantage of at around the 16/1 mark.

4.50 Ayr (Handicap) – MAKE MY DAY

Ralph Beckett brings just a couple of his horses up to Ayr from Hampshire on Saturday and the trip could be rewarded by Make My Day winning this one mile, five furlong handicap.

A lightly-raced four-year-old, Make My Day is a former John Gosden horse who was gelded before heading off to Beckett and began his career there by landing a mile-and-a-half handicap at York in good style.

He was beaten last time over an unsuitable two miles, but he is undoubtedly still improving overall and should handle the likely conditions absolutely fine to rack up a third win in 6 starts.  Rob Hornby rides.

All five of his rivals are capable of mounting challenges in what looks a particularly tight race, with Andrew Balding’s three-year-old Bronze River arguably being the best of them under Oisin Murphy.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th September 2020: Godolphin to Master the National Stakes Again

Last weekend was big enough with a Sprint Cup and a Kentucky Derby to entertain us, but this weekend is simply huge with Group 1 action galore across three countries.

Watch out for the brilliant Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, while Stradivarius puts his Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe credentials on the line over 1m4f in the Prix Foy in Paris on Sunday.

The St Leger takes place at Doncaster on Saturday but isn’t a betting race for me, with Pyledriver, Santiago and Hukum all close should conditions be to their liking.

We still have plenty to get stuck into however, with four Saturday bets and two Sunday wagers to look forward to.

Saturday 11th September 2020

1:50 Doncaster (Champagne Stakes - Group 2) - ALBASHEER

This is a race that often throws up a genuinely top-class juvenile, and Owen Burrows’ Albasheer looked just that when landing the odds over course and distance on his debut in July.

He’s a proper sort, a son of Shamardal, with extra confidence coming from the fact that the solid third-favourite Mujbar has been overlooked by Jim Crowley in favour of this horse and so he’s bound to carry plenty of confidence from his yard.

2:40 Chester (Handicap) - MAYDANNY

David Simcock’s Prejudice is solid enough at the top of the market for this 1m2f handicap, but in Maydanny it’s felt we have a horse who could bounce back in typical Mark Johnston fashion having been down the field on soft ground at York last time.

Given that he won at Yarmouth at the start of the season then monstered his Glorious Goodwood field it’s clear this horse is ahead of the handicapper overall, and it’ll be no surprise if he is to bounce out, hit the lead and never lose it around this track.

3:00 Doncaster (Park Stakes - Group 2) - WICHITA

I’m slightly surprised by the overnight odds being offered on Aidan O’Brien’s Wichita in this Group 2 race, especially given that he has already proven himself to be a genuine Group 1 horse on several occasions.

A winner in the Tattersalls Stakes last season at Newmarket by seven lengths, Wichita began this season by splitting Kameko and Pinatubo in what was a good quality 2000 Guineas, form that arguably makes him one of the better three-year-old colts in Europe.

He repeated that level of form when finishing just behind Palace Pier and Pinatubo in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot which puts him a cut above his rivals here for certain, even the likes of Limato and One Master who are more used to this seven furlong trip.

He has his conditions now, he’s been better rested and should go very strongly indeed under Frankie Dettori at a value price.

3:20 Lingfield (Conditions Stakes) - EL MISK

Others, including Sextant who I feel may be the one for money in this near 1m4f event, have the ability to make their mark but in these particular race conditions El Misk looks the one to side with.

Previously thought of as potentially top-class, John Gosden’s four-year-old Dansili colt has taken down races at Newcastle and Kempton and narrowly failed in an unsuitably small race at Newmarket recently. 

He was ahead of subsequent Group 3 winner Pablo Escobarr that day though and will be better suited by how this race looks to be shaping up, meaning it would be no surprise should he be coaxed into contention by Rab Havlin before kicking clear late on.

Sunday 13th September 2020

2:55 ParisLongchamp (Grand Prix de Paris - Group 1) - ENGLISH KING

It’s an important day in Paris with various Arc trials taking place.  This race is of course a top level event in its own right and it’s one in which the Derby form is finally truly tested.

English King, who looked a star when winning at Newcastle and at Lingfield in the Derby Trial, simply got too far back at Epsom like many others with Frankie Dettori inexplicably allowing the same thing to happen again in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

He remains a colt of some promise however, a Group One type who would have stood a huge chance in the St Leger had he gone to Doncaster instead, and if ridden closer to the pace this time he is very capable of turning the tables on Derby winner Serpentine who may well be making the running once more.

4:10 Curragh (National Stakes - Group 1) - MASTER OF THE SEAS

This is a well trodden path for Charlie Appleby and the Godolphin team, though I’m not necessarily saying at this stage that Master Of The Seas is a Quorto or a Pinatubo.

That said, he was very impressive in winning the Superlative Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket last time on the track and really looks like a proper horse.  He should stay the trip better than the admittedly very good Lucky Vega and already appears to be up to his level.

It’ll be close in the betting market between the two aforementioned runners and Aidan O’Brien’s Battleground, but it’s the well-bred son of Dubawi who comes out on top for us and that’s there the money will be going.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Saturday 5th September 2020: Art to Power to Haydock Sprint Glory

We have a massive Group One double to get stuck into either side of the Atlantic this week, with both the Haydock Sprint Cup and the delayed Kentucky Derby taking place.

Both races provide the distinct possibility of winners coming at good value prices, while elsewhere in England another three juicy bets can be taken on what looks like being a decent punting day ahead.

1:20 Ascot (Fillies’ Novice Stakes) - MONSOON MOON

Of course, we cannot know for certain what to expect from these young fillies but in the shape of Monsoon Moon there may be an ideal candidate for the Fillies’ Mile in the field.

Trained by John Gosden for the Khalid Abdullah team, Monsoon Moon is a daughter of Kingman out of a Daylami mare and so could hardly be better bred for the job.

A half-sister to Logician among others, she’s got that wonderful Juddmonte pedigree and is pretty much expected from the off to be top class and yet she may barely challenge for favouritism along with Love Is You.

That fully, another unraced type trained by Roger Charlton, provides the main opposition along with the race-fit Last Sunset for Godolphin but it’s worth taking a chance on a filly who could prove to be very, very good indeed.

1:45 Haydock (Superior Mile Stakes - Group 3) - KHALOOSY 

While Ed Walker’s Stormy Antarctic is rock-solid in these conditions for sure, it’s no surprise that Roger Varian’s Khaloosy has been very well backed overnight for this Group 3 affair.

Coming into the season with a second and a win under his belt, the powerful son of Dubawi simply demolished his Royal Ascot field in the Britannia Stakes to mark himself out immediately as a Group performer.

Going off favourite for the Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood, I never felt the race would suit and regular readers will remember we instead took a punt on 10/1 winner Tilsit that day.

Going over this mile on soft ground however could bring the best out in him, a new best no doubt, making him too good for the likes of My Oberon and Top Rank as well as Stormy Antarctic.

2.00 Kempton (Sirenia Stakes - Group 3) - CLOUDBRIDGE

On a card dominated by Enable, running in the September Stakes on what will be her British finale before heading off for one last Arc, the best best may be Godolphin’s Cloudbridge.

Previously an 8/1 shot miles behind likely favourite Mystery Smiles for Andrew Balding, there should be money for Cloudbridge as he is known to be better than what he achieved last time.

A very smart winner on debut, Charlie Appleby’s colt ran no race at all when evens favourite for the Acomb Stakes at York but he can reach the top eventually with this race perhaps being an ideal stepping stone.  James Doyle rides.

3.25 Haydock (Sprint Cup Stakes - Group 1) - ART POWER

Don’t get me wrong; I like facts and evidence, but sometimes you see a horse win and you just know it’s top class.

That was the case when I watched Art Power scorch home at Newcastle on the first day of racing’s resumption this year as he looked every inch a Group 1 winner of the (near) future.

The Tim Easterby team sensibly elected to go the handicap route with their three-year-old at Royal Ascot over five furlongs instead of taking in the Commonwealth Cup, a decision which was rewarded with a fantastic showing on similar ground to that which he’ll face at Haydock.

He stepped up to win in Group 3 company easily enough at Naas before disappointing in the Nunthorpe last time, but he was a leading hope against Battaash and conditions there didn’t suit so today he has a major chance of bagging his Group 1.

In behind the competition is very strong.  Dream Of Dreams, Hello Youmzain, Golden Horde and Lope Y Fernandez are all capable in a deep contest, however 3yo’s do well in this and it’s an ideal chance for Silvestre De Sousa’s mount.

12.01 Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby - Grade 1) - AUTHENTIC

They’ve dropped like flies this year, many defections and injuries meaning that at a glance this looks like the perfect chance for the very good Tiz The Law to stay on track to be the 14th Triple  Crown winner.

Nadal would have been a major shout, while my own view is that Maxfield was the best sophomore in the States this year, but both are out now with knocks.

Dr Post has been rerouted, so it looks on form to come down to Tiz The Law, Honor AP and the selection, Authentic.

The race has been given a strange look since the three top contenders it seems will have to come from the widest three gates, however since they’re all in the same boat and we’re now down to 16 runners (usually 20) connections won’t be too phased.

Tiz The Law has been scintillating in winning the Florida Derby, the Belmont Stakes and the Travers, but it must be remarked that he has had a hard enough season and has failed to fire around Churchill Downs before.

He may be vulnerable on this track at odds-on to one still improving, and that is certainly the category into which Bob Baffert’s Authentic fits.

A comfortable winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe from Honor AP, he was turned over by the same horse next time in the Santa Anita Derby but was slightly injured in the process.

Back to fitness, he was a narrow winner of the Haskell Stakes last time with many unimpressed by the margin at the line, but the truth is that the performance was a good one and he can now improve plenty from that race to this.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Saturday 29th August 2020: Benbatl to Win the War on Comeback

This week is somewhat of a “calm before the storm” scenario, given that the next two weekends encompass the rearranged Kentucky Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster.

That said, despite the lack of Group 1 action in Britain there are some flashy types on show and we are banking on their class to bring us some profit at Newmarket, Goodwood and Windsor.

12.20 Newmarket (Nursery Handicap) – LOST IN SPACE

The opening race at HQ is a tight little seven-furlong nursery, one in which on paper several have a winning chance.

At the bottom of the weights In Paradise is one of three entries on the card for Richard Fahey, and while she appears to be well enough handicapped, she may just lack a little bit of class.

Godolphin’s Last Sunset is interesting, but she’s done her work so far on the Polytrack at Kempton and one can never be sure of how that form will transfer to the turf.

John Gosden’s Lost In Space however was a very cosy winner last time at Lingfield and should see this out well.  Cieren Fallon’s mount for his new retainer as second jockey to Qatar Racing has the unique benefit of being ahead of the handicapper, and yet having more experience than all bar one in this field.  Huge chance.

1.50 Goodwood (Prestige Stakes – Group 3) – POMELO

The Prestige is often a very good stepping stone for a Group 1 type, and the one filly in the line-up who looks like making it to the very top is Pomelo of Ralph Beckett’s yard.

A very easy winner on debut at Newbury, she recorded a performance that few would beat in a given year for a first time out run and it was obvious from the off that connections believe she is a Group One type.

By Dubawi, should Harry Bentley’s mount score here in good enough style she will be given skinny quotes for next season’s 1000 Guineas and while that is far from certain at this stage, it does go to show what sort of filly we are dealing with here.

Chief opposition comes from last week’s valuable sales winner Happy Romance.  In taking the £89,000 first prize at York, Richard Hannon’s girl took her prize money up to £177,000 already but that has served to somewhat elevate unnecessarily her reputation in my opinion.

She’s good, but whether she can be as explosive over seven furlongs and beat a potential top-notcher who has been given 41 days to strengthen and improve remains a doubt.

2.05 Newmarket (Hopeful Stakes – Listed Race) – JASH

A solid six-furlong sprint race at Listed level, this is one in which plenty is expected of the six-year-old Summerghand who actually achieved a career best last time out when winning the Stewards’ Cup for David O’Meara.

He is good, there’s no doubt there, but in these specific race conditions I cannot see him being at his very peak and that lets in one or two, notably Sunday Star and Jash.

Sunday Star is an improving filly of Ed Walker’s who holds every chance, though may not quite see out this particular six furlongs as well as hoped, while Jash was once considered top class and may yet reach that level once more.

A close second to the brilliant Ten Sovereigns in the Middle Park two years ago, he returned last season with a win but got injured and missed a chunk of his career.  He simply blew up on his return after a breathing operation at Newcastle earlier in the month and more is expected of him now, Jim Crowley choosing the one-time 118-rated horse ahead of Shabaaby and he looks a tempting price.

2.40 Windsor (August Stakes – Listed Race) – ALOUNAK

There is also a Group 3 race on this card, but the one throwing up a betting opportunity is this Listed affair in which David Simcock’s Desert Encounter looks likely to go off favourite.

The eight-year-old is certainly very solid, but in these conditions (with some juice in the ground) and at this age he will almost certainly not be at his best which leaves him more than a little vulnerable.

Hughie Morrison’s Le Don De Vie is one who could challenge him, but if returning to something near his best it should be Andrew Balding’s Alounak putting his best foot forward.

A German import for King Power Racing, Alounak has run just OK on faster ground but a repeat of his second to Fanny Logan at Ascot would be more than enough to take this.

3.35 Goodwood (Celebration Mile – Group 2) – BENBATL

The feature race, while competitive enough, may turn out to be a battle up the home stretch between Regal Reality and the returning Benbatl.

Both high quality, the former came right back to himself for Sir Michael Stoute last time when hosing up in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.  A repeat of that is not guaranteed on ground perhaps a little juicier than ideal, so even in receipt of weight he may not be a match for the excellent Benbatl.

A versatile type, Benbatl was outstanding on the dirt in Dubai before finishing an excellent third to Maximum Security in the Saudi Cup, but he hammered King Of Comedy over a mile on the turf at Newmarket last season and was second to Winx in Australia before that.  A genuine Group One type.

Friday, 21 August 2020

Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd August 2020: The Only Way is Up for Yazaman at York

There are still two more days of top class racing to go at York during the Ebor meeting, and it may pay to take a good look at Jim Crowley’s rides for Sheikh Hamdan on Friday.

Alfaatik, Enbihaar, Minzaal, Tawleed, Asiaaf and of course Battaash all have genuine winning chances, and I like two of them myself at the prices.  There are also a couple of fair bets on Saturday afternoon.

Friday 21st August 2020

1.45 York (Handicap) – ALFAATIK

Friday’s opener is a competitive handicap, at least on paper, however when taking a closer look at the contenders it became clear to me that there are a few who cannot be guaranteed to run up to their mark.

Dark Jedi, Zabeel Champion and Restorer are probably the best of the challengers, but none look particularly well handicapped.

The returning Alfaatik of John Gosden’s yard however was expected to have reached a mark of anywhere between 100 and 110 when he went wrong as a three-year-old, so now he’s been put back together and given how well the yard can prepare them after a break he looks particularly well in now off 94.

2.15 York (Lonsdale Cup – Group 2) – ENBIHAAR

We should hope against hope that this race is run on turf as it looks on paper, as so many of them are of such a broadly similar ability.

Nayef Road, Dashing Willoughby, Eagles By Day and Enbihaar are all potentially very close and if the race is run that way, the mare’s allowance received by the selection should be the deciding factor.

A winner of three Group 2’s this time last year, the five-year-old was back to near her best at Goodwood last time out and there is plenty of hope that she will handle this extra couple of furlongs, especially on a flat track.

Any further drying out overnight would be appreciated and some sun on Friday afternoon would definitely do the trick for Jim Crowley’s mount, so do keep an eye on the weather.

2.45 York (Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2) – YAZAMAN

A decent Gimcrack without being a classic on paper, but one in which the favourite may have been strangely overestimated.

Nowhere else will you read about improvement in horses more than right here, and so ordinarily I would be on board with Minzaal being the rightful favourite after his impressive debut win at Salisbury.

A closer look though reveals that, while he did nothing wrong and he pulled nicely away from his field, that field was decidedly weak and so while a Listed race may have been without his grasp, he perhaps just shouldn’t be favourite for a Group 2 just yet.

One overpriced runner who has a strong place chance is Andrew Balding’s Mystery Smiles, while Youbettabelieveit remains solid enough.

One who’s been worth watching all year though is William Haggas’ Yazaman and he may just have been slightly overlooked here at the odds.

A winner on debut at Yarmouth, he did extremely well at Royal Ascot from completely the wrong side of the track to almost get to Tactical, while the step up in trip at that stage with juice in the ground may not have been to his liking when he was just touched off again by the same horse at Newmarket in the July Stakes.

Finishing second to Supremacy in the Richmond, Yazaman has plenty of Group 2 form already and arguably he could have won more than one of them.  He is the strongest proven horse in the line-up by some way and so is overpriced at around 5/1.

Saturday 22nd August 2020

4.10 York (Roses Stakes – Listed Race) – BEN MACDUI

On a flat track such as this, over five furlongs and on a warm day this race should be all about speed and so with that in mind, the one to concentrate on should be Ben Macdui.

Others in the line-up have fairly solid form, including Politics, Acklam Express and Lauded should the latter not take up his engagement in the Gimcrack, however Kevin Ryan’s runner looks a cut above at least at this stage.

A winner on debut at Hamilton, he took a huge step forward and proved that he was all about pace when finishing a fine second to the well-backed Steel Bull in the Group 2 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and there is little reason to think he’ll go backwards here.

Kevin Stott once again takes the ride, a jockey doing particularly well recently, with the hope being that he will sit close to the pace once again before pouncing in the final furlong and a half or so.

4.40 York (Handicap) – CAPE CAVALLI

This is a really good-looking mile-and-a-quarter handicap, one that much like our first covered race on the column looks competitive at a glance but slightly less so when digging into the field a little.

Maydanny was incredibly impressive last time, but an 11lb rise for Mark Johnston’s horse seems a little harsh to be honest.

Fifth Position remains solid in these handicap races but is handicapped more or less correctly for me, while likely favourite Sinjaari is a last time out winner over this course and distance.

The latter has been put up 8lbs, and considering the type of race it was he is sure to have had to put it all in to win that day and so the likelihood of lots of improvement coming now seems less likely than first thought.

The two to concentrate on more are likely to be Sir Michael Stoute’s Derevo and Simon & Ed Crisford’s Cape Cavalli.  Derevo is getting there slowly but surely, not unusual for one from this yard, and so while you can be sure he has a race like this in him you couldn’t say with certainty it will be this very event.

Cape Cavalli on the other hand won so well over this course and distance in July it seems certain he’ll put in another performance of note, one that should see him confirm he is better than his mark of 91.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th August 2020: Marple to Solve Handicap Puzzle

It’s another high-class weekend with Group 1 events taking place in France, Germany and the USA as old favourite Barney Roy looks to add to his enviable record.

Back on British soil Newbury takes centre stage and there is some great action planned, two of their races providing us with good value punts while Deauville must not be missed either.

Saturday 15th August 2020

1.50 Newbury (Denford Stakes – Listed Race) – DHAHABI

While the likes of Jumby and Saint Lawrence are decent, we can only hope this race becomes a duel between two very exciting prospects for the future in Guru and Dhahabi with the latter preferred.

Four weeks ago, John Gosden’s Guru made a most pleasing debut at Newbury when taking care of Sir Michael Stoute’s Derby entry Maximal over today’s seven furlongs.  That was a good race, but Guru looked straight forward enough and perhaps won’t have as much improvement in him as the selection.

Godolphin’s Dhahabi, a very expensive purchase and beautifully bred, also scored on debut at HQ.  This time the Frankel colt dwelt at the start and needed rousting along early, before showing good speed to hit the front in the style of a horse that will come on in leaps and bounds for the run.

3.25 Deauville (Prix de Lieurey – Group 3) – ALTHIQA

Over to France now where a chance can be taken on Charlie Appleby’s Althiqa.  Riding plans aren’t really much to go on for this stable over the weekend; William Buick happy to take one ride in Germany (he’s on Barney Roy in a Group 1) while James Doyle rides Dhahabi.

The fact Mikael Barzalona rides this filly then doesn’t tell us that much other than it certainly won’t hinder her chances.

Third in a Group 3 last time, she was a winner at Deauville the time before over seven furlongs and is improving enough to make us think that she can take car of Fooraat, Simeen and Cloak Of Spirits and what will hopefully be a nice price.

5.00 Newmarket (Handicap) – JANE MARPLE

Rarely does it work out so well, so caution is advised, but it could well be that there has been a total anomaly in the handicap mark given to John Gosden’s Jane Marple and at the time of writing it has not been spotted by the bookmakers.

Chucked in at around 4/1 on Friday, Jane Marple could be the one for money at HQ in her handicap debut given that she beat National Treasure last time and has been handed a mark of just 82.

That has been given to her by the assessor due apparently to the fact that the horse she beat is rated 81, however he outran that figure most likely with Jane Marple’s real performance that day worth around 85-88 in reality.

Given that she will almost certainly improve now on her third run, especially as a filly coming from this yard, a performance somewhere approaching the mid-90’s is possible now making her mark of 82 look incredibly generous.

Should she get the trip OK she looks very backable indeed, with Godolphin’s top-weight Expressionism next on the list just ahead of the in-form Believe In Love who is looking for a three-timer.

Sunday 16th August 2020

2.50 Deauville (Prix Jacques le Marois – Group 1) – PALACE PIER

A higher quality Group 1 race than the version Romanised won last year, and it seems likely the defending champ will be taken off his feet this time around.

Local hero Persian King has won his last two and rates a danger, however despite scoring in seven out of 10 career races has hasn’t shown lumps of improvement at any time and so it seems we now know his level.

That level is very similar to what we can expect from Aidan O’Brien’s Circus Maximus, though while his form this season is once again red hot, he always looks vulnerable to a real good one as he was when facing Mohaather at Goowood and it could be the case again with this Palace Pier.

John Gosden’s taking St James’s Palace Stakes winner looked top class at Royal Ascot, showed a terrific turn of foot in beating Pinatubo and has been left alone to recover and improve since.

The son of Kingman, the mount of Frankie Dettori who will now miss York next week due to the need for him to quarantine on return, looks every inch a mid-120’s horse at least and that sort of level makes him too good for the aforementioned rivals, along with Alpine Star.

3.35 Newbury (St Hugh’s Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – MISS JINGLES

Once again we are backing potential over proven ability here, as Charlie Appleby’s Miss Jingles needs to prove that being rated 4lbs behind favourite Caroline Dale only serves to underestimate her current ability.

On the numbers, she doesn’t have a lot to fear anyway.  Miss Jingles has run one race less than her main rival and in terms of published speed figures she is already on a par with David Loughnane’s runner.  With more improvement likely from the slightly lighter-raced runner, those facts would actually have made James Doyle’s mount a fair favourite had the bookmakers installed her as such.

A closer look at the profiles of the big two however strengthens confidence even more.  Caroline Dale has done well to reach a mark of 98, but her two standout runs were at Ascot in Group company.  The finish at Ascot clearly suits this filly, especially considering she ran third in the Princess Margaret last time over six furlongs and it could be that this quicker five furlongs will not suit at all.

Miss Jingles on the other hand is a classic improving type.  An average debut was followed up by a decent win at Sandown, with another big step forward coming last time at Glorious Goodwood.

In a conditions event, the daughter of Exceed and Excel did well to get the better of the argument and she now looks a Group filly without any doubt.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Saturday 8th August 2020: Dani a Winner All Ova

There is some top action at Haydock Park this weekend, where short-priced favourite Veracious and Global Giant are rock-solid in the Dick Hern Stakes and Rose of Lancaster Stakes respectively.

However, in terms of grabbing some good value, we are concentrating on two races each from Ascot and Newmarket where the early odds offered by layers simply don’t seem to give enough credit to a quartet of horses who should go very well in the forecast fast conditions.

1.15 Ascot (Nursery Handicap) – LINE OF DEPARTURE

It could be an excellent start to the day for us, as long as Roger Varian’s experienced Line Of Departure can prove to be ahead well handicapped.

I do think that’s the case for the son of Mehmas, one who has been out four times already but hasn’t had an overly hard time.

He has close form with Alkumait, a good Glorious Goodwood winner who now looks like a Group horse, and his easy win last time in a small race made it appear that a mark of 79 would not be accurate so it appears he is ahead of the assessors.

Challenging him in the market should be Jadwal who also looks solid, with the two appearing to be clear of First Prophet and Et Tu Brute who has form with Jadwal from Newmarket.

2.25 Ascot (Handicap) – GAME PLAYER

The draw once again shouldn’t be an issue here on the straight course for this one-mile handicap, as only ten line up and not all have a winning chance.

Former Sheikh Hamdan horse Ejtilaab is perhaps overpriced while Shelir can go well again here for the David O’Meara yard.

The likely favourite is Godolphin’s Jalaad, trained by the resurgent Saeed bin Suroor.  A winner last time at York, he is no doubt in great form but the flat track there is different to what he’ll face here and he had to put in a proper shift to get the job done, meaning he doesn’t have loads in hand and his 5lb rise in the weights could be enough to anchor him.

The interesting one is the returning five-year-old of Roger Varian’s, Game Player.  Based on modern training techniques, Varian’s past and the horse’s own profile I’d have little worries about this son of Dark Angel being at his best after a long break.

If he is, then he has weight in hand here even off 95 based on his improving performances at Lingfield, Goodwood and Ayr last term, especially given that he was blocked in his run twice.

Assuming no traffic problems this time, we should see a mature horse quickly reaching his peak this summer and with that could come another win for Andrea Atzeni and this time at a very nice price.

3.20 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – DANILOVA

Off to the July Course at HQ now and a nice-looking renewal of the Sweet Solera.  It’s understandable that Richard Hannon’s first-time-out winner Fly Miss Helen is put up as favourite having been well backed to score from Sarsparilla at Newbury on debut.

The form of the race is OK, perhaps nothing special, and while it remains possible for Fly Miss Helen to improve we know that from this yard they can be fully ready first time out (this one was, hence the odds) meaning less progression to come than the price here would suggest.

Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain is solid after three runs but it is germane that she put up her best show on very different ground to this, while Setarhe could be a little behind the main trio.

The value in the race is Charlie Appleby’s Danilova who has a very bright future indeed.  Having been given a handicap mark she is rated 10lbs behind Dubai Fountain, however she is way better than that and could have hosed up in a nursery.

Instead she goes for this Group 3 and she has the capabilities to win it.  She’s an improver; not much was expected on debut at 6/1 against four rivals but she ran on nicely to separate Wedding Dance, since second in a Group 3 and rated around 100, and Nash Nasha who was an easy winner at Lingfield on Wednesday.

She beat a promising type of John Gosden’s called Senita just a week ago with the minimum of fuss and can take a big stride forward in this race before being aimed perhaps at the top level by the end of the year.

5.10 Newmarket (Handicap) – EMISSARY

A fair shout for a podium finish in The Derby, Hugo Palmer’s colt indeed took his chance at Epsom but like many he was ridden incorrectly in a very unsatisfactory race behind the admittedly good Serpentine.

I was very much of the opinion that the race he took part in at Goodwood before his Classic tilt was a good one and that he could reach at least the 110 sort of level, something backed up by the fact that his very narrow conqueror Khalifa Sat went on to finish second in the Derby and is now rated 111.

The son of Kingman, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, gets in here off a mark of 98 and he is clearly ahead just now.  He’ll be a Group horse in good time and may well have too much in hand for this particular opposition.

The best of the rest may well be John Gosden’s Harrovian.  A three-time winner already, this four-year-old is still getting better and his jockey takes off a handy 7lbs, but that’s only a good thing if Oliver Stammers’ inexperience doesn’t count too much against him and he still has a lot of weight to carry round.

Cognac and Data Protection look best of the rest in this mile-and-a-quarter event but it would be no surprise to see Khalid Abdullah’s horse win this well under Harry Bentley before moving on and up over this trip, as well perhaps as 1½ miles.