Ascot’s annual Shergar Cup takes place this weekend but as usual it’s a watching brief for most serious punters given the fact that almost none of the runners will have the assistance of their regular riding partners, though we do one have value bet in the international showpiece however in the stayers’ race
Mostly we turn our attentions to Haydock and Newmarket where there is a mix of pattern races and competitive handicaps, one including the well regarded Caliburn who as a son of Camelot is expected to reach a high level before too long.Embed from Getty Images
1.40 Ascot (Shergar Cup Stayers) – CLEONTE
All of these races are competitive but in the case of Cleonte we have a rock solid contender who most likely just needs to churn out another performance to a similar level as his others efforts this term and he’ll go very close to winning.
Ultra consistent this term without getting his head in front as yet, Cleonte has a liking for this track and stays the trip really well meaning he could give Per-Anders Graberg a much appreciated victory. Jukebox Jive, Lord George and Hassle are chief among the competition.
2.30 Haydock (Dick Hern Stakes – Listed Race) – LA FIGLIA
Although to this point she hasn’t quite reached the heights we all expected, all is far from lost for the daughter of Frankel and on just her second run for Peter Chapple-Hyam she can show what she is made of at this level.
Beaten only a length and three-quarters in Listed company on her second ever start, La Figlia was expected to move up into Group company this year but after four runs the owners decided a change of scenery was in order and so she was moved out of Jeremy Noseda’s yard like so many others this term – though the exact reason is not known.
Her first run for her new yard was very encouraging; a comfortable novice race success under James Doyle marking her out as a future pattern winner having beaten the filly who was second to John Gosden’s well regarded Highgarden on debut.
Unforgettable Filly is one who could provide the biggest danger to our horse, while likely hot favourite Agrotera is far from a forlorn hope although the nature of her Royal Ascot handicap win was very different to this race and has perhaps led to her being overrated a tad, though she is capable of improvement.
3.05 Haydock (Rose of Lancaster Stakes – Group 3) – ELWAZIR
Owen Burrows’ son of Frankel has always been highly thought of but never rushed and having won in style on only his fourth racecourse start last time out he is a warm order to complete a hat-trick for the season in this race.
Despite his season opening victory Elwazir took a fairly big leap forward when scoring at Ascot last time and its notable that he did that when the ground got quicker. Today’s fast going should be very much to his liking and it’s easy to see him getting a nice lead from one or two of these before quickening well to land a third consecutive victory and a first at Group 3 level.
Zaaki and Fajjaj look to be the biggest dangers this time while Mark Johnston’s improving colt Communique can come on again, however his latest rating of 103 may slightly flatter him and at any point he could blow up and put in a bad run before regaining his improvement.
3.10 Newmarket (1m2f Handicap) – CALIBURN
Always well regarded at home by Hugo Palmer, this improving three-year-old colt has been running over further and easily landed his novice race at Haydock at the third attempt before having his sets set a little too high in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy last time out.
Not only the level of the race but also the 1m5f+ trip got him comfortably beaten at Newmarket but it’s easy to see a) progress being resumed now he is down in grade and b) a much happier horse over 1m2f on softer ground in a faster run race.
While it’s true that his sire Camelot contested the St Leger, the fact remains he had the speed to win the 2000 Guineas at the start of his 3yo career and a look at the average distance covered by his progeny suggests that this trip is ideal for most of them and that can include Caliburn, so being asked to cover 1m4f+ so early in his career has likely blunted his performance thus far.
The fact he has been thought of as a group horse and yet comes into a handicap getting weight from chief rival Kaanoon means he could prove to be pretty well in and should be capable of landing this under Tom Marquand.
3.45 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – LA PELOSA
This is a well regarded filly of Godolphin’s who was so close to winning at Royal Ascot. She was beaten over this trip at odds-on last time and flopped before that on this course however connections have not lost faith in her and neither have I.
She has some pretty lofty targets for later in the season and trainer Charlie Appleby thinks seven furlongs is ideal for her, something she may finally get the chance to prove today.
Inexperienced fillies Ejrar and Pennywhistle both have tons of potential but may lack a little something up against Brett Doyle’s mount, while Mark Johnston’s Ascot winner Main Edition has an obvious chance although she did not go well when asked to run here before and her 3lb penalty hardly helps matters either.