With Royal Ascot right around the corner it’s slightly more about quantity than quality on Saturday, though some of the Listed races and handicaps are providing us with some lovely bets to help build the Ascot betting bank before Tuesday. Here are the best bets of the weekend:Embed from Getty Images
2.05 Sandown (Scurry Stakes – Listed) – KODITIME
We have some very fast three-year-olds strutting their stuff here and Clive Cox’s son of Kodiac hasn’t been rushed into things at this level but is very deserving of his chance in a Listed race and gets the vote this time around.
He actually comes into this race having been beaten in a handicap last time out however he was carrying a burden weight that day and was only just pipped off a mark of 95. Having been raised to a mark of 100 it would seem he has a better shot in Listed company than in the handicap ranks and his rate of improvement would suggest he’s far from out of place against these types.
The quick five furlongs at Sandown will be right up his street and it’s easy to see him getting the better of Mokaatil on this occasion. Godolphin’s Sound And Silence would be right up there too if it weren’t for the five-pound penalty he carries for winning a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffitte last autumn, though his class may yet tell.
2.25 York (7f Handicap) – SPANISH CITY
Ryan Moore is an interesting participant in York’s action on Saturday and the globetrotting first jockey to Aidan O’Brien has been snapped up by Roger Varian to ride his improving five-year-old Spanish City in the seven-furlong handicap.
Moore should be confident aboard the son of Exceed And Excel who, after a long break, won cosily at Newcastle in May but could not show his best having been turned out only 8 days later at Ascot, albeit in a very competitive race in which he was sixth.
He resumed his improvement last time out at Doncaster in similar conditions to this however with a nice win under regular jockey Andrea Atzeni – the Italian is due at Sandown – and can come on again for the run. He may not even need to improve to take this race though and should have too much for Squats and The Feathered Nest to announce himself as a potential pattern-race horse in the months to come.
3.00 York (Grand Cup Stakes – Listed) – WEEKENDER
Ryan Moore must once again feel he is on a winner with Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo and he will certainly be staying on when others have given up the ghost, but I can’t get away from the fact that we have not seen the best of Weekender yet and so of the superstar jocks on show here it could be Frankie Dettori who has the last laugh this time.
Weekender has already achieved the same BHA rating (114) as Marmelo from seven fewer races and as a four-year-old under the care of John Gosden, there is very little doubt that there is plenty of improvement still to come from him and so it seems logical that he could improve past his main rival.
The trip and ground here appear to be up his alley and so he may be value to get the better of the Deauville Group 2 winner as well as David Simcock’s Algometer who may yet have more to come in this sphere.
3.50 Sandown (7f Handicap) – MUTAKATIF
Jim Crowley has been in the wars rather this week but will hope to sign off on Saturday with a winner or two and his ride Mutakatif for main retainer Hamdan Al Maktoum looks interesting to me.
Charlie Hills’ runner closed his two-year-old season with a simple win in a novice event at Chester for which he was raised only 2lbs by the handicapper meaning he makes his handicap debut off a mark of 87, though he looks like being a good deal better than that.
He ran well first time up last season when finishing second at Haydock and in fact went off 2/1 favourite for that race so his being fresh would not seem to be a worry and his turn of pace could see him kill off this opposition before moving up the ranks.
Richard Hannon’s Rum Runner could grab a place and among others could have competition from Tadbir and likely favourite Flavius Titus for minor honours.
4.25 Sandown (1m1f Handicap) – IBRAZ
Roger Varian’s Farhh colt Ibraz, who was a Derby entrant of some promise going into the winter months, has been slightly slow to come to hand but is improving plenty for experience now and can continue on an upward curve to take this handicap.
He won a novice race at Nottingham over the extended mile back in May in the style of a horse with plenty more to give and it would seem that having been given a mark of 86, he may well have been somewhat underestimated by the assessor.
A colt of Martyn Meade’s (Infrastructure) who finished in behind at Nottingham was given an ambitious mark of 82 for his handicap debut and he was only just beaten in a good race at Sandown off that mark, lending more weight to the theory that Ibraz’s form is solid enough before we even consider his potential improvement.
It wouldn’t surprise me too much to see Roger Charlton’s Kassar grab a place in this at a good price, while the slightly more experienced Bathsheba Bay and Simply Breathless may have a say in matters too.