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.Embed from Getty Images
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.