Friday 28 September 2018

Friday 28th & Saturday 29th: Cape Of Good Hope For HQ Punters

It’s all about Newmarket this week with a fantastic few days of racing coming to an end with not only the Cambridgeshire being run, but also some major clues handed out as to who next year’s top three-year-olds may be.

Friday can give us 1000 Guineas pointers when the Rockfel Stakes is run while Saturday can provide both 2000 Guineas and Derby hints as the Middle Park and Royal Lodge Stakes are contested.

We start here with the Nayef Stakes on Friday, a race in which a couple of highly thought of three-year-old fillies can bounce right back to form for the home team.

Friday 28th September

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2.25 Newmarket (Nayef Stakes – Group 3) – SUN MAIDEN

We should have good, almost summer ground for this mile-and-a-half contest which should in turn help us in terms of not getting shock results with the better fillies perhaps coming to the fore.  With all of that in mind, Sir Michael Stoute’s Sun Maiden looks overpriced in this Group 3 contest and should have too much for this field if at her best.

Visually she was mightily impressive when breaking her duck at Salisbury back in May and then ran a very solid race when third in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, though she hasn’t hit those heights again since.  Things should be back in her favour now though and she can grab a first win at pattern level.

Watch out for further improvement from John Gosden’s 3yo filly Highgarden while Mrs Sippy may complete a place whitewash for the classic generation.

3.35 Newmarket (Joel Stakes – Group 2) – REGAL REALITY

Mustashry is a horse we like and it was nice to see him get his head in front again at Doncaster last time out, Sir Michael so often able to coax out improvement from these older horses.  I do think the master trainer will win this contest, however he may be doing it with young Intello colt Regal Reality instead.

Having scored very nicely at Glorious Goodwood at Group 3 level on only his third racecourse start and without the best luck in running, he appeared perhaps to be heading for the top but he didn’t really progress when settling for third place in the Superior Mile (Group 3) at Haydock next time.

He has some natural speed and hated the heavy ground on his last run, so this surface and a return to seven furlongs should see the best from him and there’s little doubt powerhouse Ryan Moore can get the best out of him if he needs to.  Zonderland may be best of the rest.

4.45 Newmarket (Godolphin Stakes – Listed Race) – COMMUNIQUE

Willam Haggas’ filly Maid To Remember may be a tad overpriced in this race and is certainly better value at the predicted odds than either Raheen House or  Barsanti, however they may all be vulnerable to the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights.

Mark Johnston’s Communique has had a busy season, typical for a Johnston inmate you may say, but has steadily progressed through a few peaks and a couple of minor troughs to reach a level befitting this Listed entry.

He won nicely in a handicap at Newbury last time out off a mark of 103 under Silvestre de Sousa and has the on board help of another strong jockey, Moore once again, to help him maintain his progress.  He doesn’t throw in too many bad runs so despite just a week off the track he can reach a level that off these weights could see him dominate.

Saturday 29th September

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1.50 Newmarket (Royal Lodge Stakes – Group 2) – CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

Often horses of potential are seriously underpriced based on their trainer’s reputation and, almost unbelievably, it could be Aidan O’Brien, himself usually the one with the massive standing, who could benefit this time at a tasty price.

His Cape Of Good Hope ran a blinder back in July to be second to subsequent Group 1 winner Quorto at Newmarket and all of this when his stable were known to be suffering from an ailment.  The son of Galileo has not raced since and, as an offspring of the champion sire, will appreciate this step up in trip as well as a return to full health.

He’s a chunky price because of the presence of John Gosden’s unbeaten colt Beatboxer who won oh so easily last time out at Haydock, though in truth it’s hard to know what to make of that form in the context of this very strong race and so the 2/1 at the time of writing looks way too short.

3.00 Newmarket (Middle Park Stakes – Group 1) – JASH

Now, in stark contrast to the Royal Lodge, we are hoping to get an Aidan O’Brien hotpot beaten in the shape of odds-on favourite Ten Sovereigns.  The No Nay Never colt was superb on his second start at the Curragh when registering a very impressive performance to win a Group 3 however he didn’t beat a hell of a lot and may not improve from race two to race three with the same giant stride as plenty of others in the yard.

With that in mind we take a punt on the potential of Simon Crisford’s son of Kodicac, Jash, who simply took his field apart in a novice race at Salisbury and who is very highly thought of indeed.

Crisford knows a top class horse when he sees one from his time at Godolphin in the hay day of Saeed bin Suroor and the Newmarket handler reckons this one is going right to the top.  I agree.

Friday 21 September 2018

Saturday 22nd September: Rascal To Scamper Home At Newbury

It’s all about the younger horses for us this week as two impressive juveniles look to strut their stuff in the Mill Reef at Newbury and the Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr, while two one-time Derby contenders can also get their careers back on track with Group Three wins either side of the Channel in the 3yo division

We start at Newbury where two good value early bets could get us off to a terrific start on what is a very busy afternoon of racing.

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2.20 Newbury (Legacy Cup Stakes – Group 3) – YOUNG RASCAL

Desert Encounter won this last year and was successful last time out at Windsor too, however this is a significantly stronger renewal than 2017 and it’s possible he will find likely favourite Mirage Dancer too strong, though that may not be the end of the matter.

Three-year-old Young Rascal won so well at Chester’s May meeting in the Chester Vase that many had him down as a potential Derby winner for the big race sponsor Bernard Kantor of Investec and while things didn’t work out for him at Epsom in the end, he remains a young colt of terrific potential.

At these weights he has an outstanding chance of scoring another Group 3 win though whether he’s good enough for the Arc, for which this was formerly a recognised trial, remains to be seen.  He’s a nice type though and deserves this.

2.55 Newbury (Mill Reef Stakes – Group 2) – KESSAAR

This is a tight Mill Reef on the book and probably not the best renewal ever, though whatever wins it will still have to be decent and the improvement seen lately in Kessaar makes him stand out to me in this field.

After a rather inauspicious start for a horse now running at this level and for a top trainer such as John Gosden, the son of Kodiac has done nothing but get better since his debut and his taking success in Group 3 company on Kempton’s all-weather track last time when slamming Junius Brutus in the Sirenia Stakes is probably the best bit of form on offer here, despite some having run at Group 1 level.

Kessaar still holds an entry in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket next month and while he is not certain to prove up to that, it’s clear his top connections hold him in high regard.

Shine So Bright and Marie’s Diamond are obvious contenders for places but at a bigger price watch out for easy Newcastle scorer Garrus taking a big step forward under Jim Crowley for beleaguered trainer Jeremy Noseda.

3.15 Ayr (Firth of Clyde Stakes – Group 3) – QUEEN OF BERMUDA

A decent race and one in which William Haggas’ admirable filly Queen Of Bermuda may finally grab a Group race success following some fine efforts both at home and abroad over the course of the season.

This juvenile daughter of Exceed And Excel was narrowly beaten in a French Group 3 last time over five furlongs when staying on nicely and may improve again for this step up in trip, something that looks almost certain based on a broad view of her breeding.

She can take care of the likes of Shumookhi whose rating looks a little false, and Glass Slippers who rate as the chief dangers in what is a tight enough race on paper.

3.30 Newbury (World Trophy Stakes – Group 3) – EQUILATERAL

This very promising three-year-old made a stunning debut last season and confirmed that perceived ability when slamming subsequent triple winner and Steward’s Cup sixth Foxtrot Lady by 8 lengths first time out this season at Doncaster.

He has disappointed somewhat in Group outings this year, including at the very top level, but came right back to form over this five furlong trip when dominating a small race at Leicester last time out and it’s pleasing that Charlie Hills brings him out just 11 days later while he is in rare form.

He has such huge natural speed that despite his opening win of the season at Donny and with the benefit of hindsight, he should have always been going over the minimum trip and so it’s exciting to see what he can achieve here.

Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation and the winner of last year’s renewal Take Cover look best of the rest at these weights, though in truth they’ll need our boy to run below form in order to score as they have a few pounds to find if he gets close to his true ability.

3.45 Longchamp (Prix du Prince d’Orange – Group 3) – GHAIYYATH

At the time of writing I have absolutely no idea what sort of price to expect about this one time Derby hope as nothing has filtered through from France, but so long as we aren’t talking long odds-on then the son of Dubawi simply must be backed.

All Dubawi’s improve with age so the speed with which this colt when through the levels as a juvenile last season, culminating in a very fine Group 3 win at Newmarket, is very impressive stuff indeed.  He was always thought of as a top class middle-distance three-year-old and one who could have landed the big one at Epsom, though injury curtailed his season until now.

Charlie Appleby won’t care too much about all that now given that he won the Derby with Masar and this race may yet prove to be a 1-2 for the trainer with Stage Magic very capable of chasing his stable mate home, while local challenger Scared Life could prove to be best of the rest.

Friday 14 September 2018

Friday 14th & Saturday 15th September: Lah Ti Dar To Sing All The Way To Leger Glory

With such high class racing taking place at Doncaster it would be churlish of us to ignore Friday in favour of Saturday and so we have four value bets which can hopefully boost our betting bank ahead of the St Leger and the Irish Champion Stakes the following day.

Lord Lloyd-Webber will be hoping to get a good tune out of his very well bred filly in the big race itself while another speedy Kingman colt could be about to show us what he can do during what should be an exhilarating weekend of racing.

Usual suspects John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute feature in our selections as the powerful Newmarket stables send their big guns to Donny and Leopardstown to fight for massive money and it’s in Yorkshire we start with a good looking Group Three for the fillies on Friday afternoon.

Friday 14th September 2018

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1.50 Doncaster (Sceptre Stakes – Group 3) – LAUGH ALOUD

We thought she just might win on her belated return for John Gosden but alas she had to settle for third place behind the well fancied Veracious, albeit not beaten very far.

This lightly raced 4yo should be able to take a big step up in performance level now which would be enough to see her triumph over the likes of Anna Nerium and Dancing Star.

2.25 Doncaster (Flying Childers Stakes – Group 2) – LEGENDS OF WAR

Mr Gosden could indeed be off to a flying start on Friday with his Legends Of War fancied to go one better than when running a blinder at big odds in the Gimcrack Stakes at York last month.

The son of Scat Daddy has arguably taken longer to come to himself that we all thought, but boy is he doing that now and he can defy once again his odds to beat hot favourite Rumble Inthejungle who has been sold off to Cheveley Park Stud this week for a pretty penny.

3.35 Doncaster (Doncaster Cup – Group 2) – SHEIKHZAYEDROAD

There’s a potential hotpot here in the shape of Willie Mullins’ Thomas Hobson who may yet prove hard to beat following his easy preparation and his fine second in this race last year, though I can’t quite shake off David Simcock’s veteran Sheikhzayedroad.

He hasn’t won a race since October 2016 on Champion’s Day but he’s remained in good form the whole time, running into the likes of Vazirabad and Stradivarius along the way.  Having been out of action since Royal Ascot he comes here nice and fresh and ready to run a big race with his best form for me good enough to see this lot off.

Don’t rule out Willie Mullins’ other runner Max Dynamite at a nice price but this could be a much deserved big race win for jockey Martin Harley.

4.05 Doncaster (Flying Scotsman Stakes – Listed Race) – SANGARIUS

Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t usually rush them along but when a precocious type comes his way he’s not afraid to set them loose, just like Expert Eye last season and in the same colours we could see another big performance from this Kingman colt Sangarius.

The sire has started well with the likes of Calyx and is already making a name for himself, this one being bound to add to the list.  True, this is only a Listed race but make no mistake the Newmarket stable have designs on winning either the Dewhurst or the Racing Post Trophy with him depending on what trip he prefers so this should be taken en route.

Athmad is another to have made a nice debut and can give the favourite most to do, though I’d be surprised if Ryan Moore’s mount did not get home in front with a little authority.

Saturday 15th September 2018

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2.25 Doncaster (Park Stakes – Group 2) – D’BAI

We’ve spoken in glowing terms on these pages before about Sir Michael Stoute’s 5yo Mustashry and as such it’s hard to go against him when he is now seemingly expected to win, however Godolphin’s first choice D’bai is hard to get away from on all known evidence.

Tried on various surfaces over various trips against some exalted company, the 4yo could do with going up against this sort of (admittedly high quality) field and may find things to his liking this time.

He’s had plenty of goes but as a 4yo by Dubawi we cannot believe we have yet seen the very best of him so a career best is still a possibility in this race.

3.35 Doncaster (St Leger Stakes – Group 1) – LAH TI DAR

John Gosden’s super filly created a massive impression when coming back from injury to win at York by 10 lengths on only her third career start and is now a shortish price for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe itself, meaning the world’s oldest classic won’t even be her hardest assignment before the year is out.

Instead of running her in a trial over in France, she has been rerouted here and it’s easy to see why for as long as she stays the mile-and-three-quarter trip OK she really should have too much for this field and rates a fairly confident bet under Frankie Dettori.

Kew Gardens has held favouritism for this race for some time but has looked a little too short in the betting for my money with Derby second Dee Ex Bee at least as good as him at many times the price, though they are both usurped as second choice in this race by Charlie Appleby’s Old Persian who may yet land his Group 1 if things fall his way and he gets the trip.

Friday 7 September 2018

Saturday 8th September: Eqtidaar Can Shake Harry Up In Sprint Cup

Despite the presence of our Group 1 sprint on the card, Saturday is billed as the return of Enable and it’ll be great to see this world class filly back on the track.  She’s not a backable price in the September Stakes (2.05, Kempton) however and so we focus our scrutiny elsewhere.

Harry Angel takes on 11 rivals in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, one of which I think can run him close, while a couple of recently unlucky-in-running types may gain compensation down at Ascot.

We start at Haydock though and potentially a very good value wager on record breaker Mark Johnston’s runner in the Group 3: 

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2.25 Haydock (Superior Mile Stakes - Group 3) - THREADING

Often under bet and over priced, Mark Johnston’s talented filly can throw in a bad one but she sure is excellent on her day.  Despite some strong form on quicker ground, a look back to the start of her career appears to show a fondness for softer going and so underfoot conditions could be the catalyst to a return to form this weekend.

Producing the sort of performance we know she’s capable of after some under-par efforts would see her a few pounds too good for Regal Reality who admittedly rates a huge danger, while Tabarrak continues to out perform his reputation and has a place chance.

2.45 Ascot (7f Handicap) - MUBTASIM

I’ll confess this chap is an old favourite of mine, but then there’s a reason for that as he remains capable of some very good levels of form so long as he gets his conditions.  The seven furlong trip at Ascot with a strong pace is ideal and he can now leave behind his fifth place at Chelmsford to score once more.

He’s been busy enough but as a four-year-old with 16 runs under his belt he can still ameliorate his racing profile so we may even see a career best in this race.  Gilgamesh, Ripp Orf and Cape Byron are obvious contenders and should prove popular in the betting ring against him.

3.50 Kempton (1m Nursery Handicap) - DAAFR

There are plenty in with chances here on the book, Eyelool looking solid and Bercheny the improver to name two, however there’s plenty more to come from John Gosden’s runner and its the expensive son of Invincible Spirit that gets the nod.

Daafr has had two pretty underwhelming runs on turf, though they sandwich what was an impressive enough appearance at Newcastle on an artificial surface and it must be remembered that his last turf run was in a Group 2.  He’s perhaps not up to Group level yet, but he’s certainly better than his mark of 83 so is well handicapped.

3.55 Ascot (Lavazza Stakes Handicap) - FIRST ELEVEN

This is a high quality handicap and it’ll be no surprise to see the likes of Ghostwatch, Midi and Berkshire Royal to the fore at the business end although they all look much of a muchness at the weights.  Our horse is the only one in the field that can potentially improve enough to put daylight between him and the rest and so he rates a good bet.

Although beaten at Newmarket last time, which wasn’t a great surprise to me, First Eleven was frightfully unlucky not to win at Royal Ascot the time before and so with advancement likely he could just be too good at the weights.

4.15 Haydock (Sprint Cup - Group 1) - EQTIDAAR (each-way)

This is a proper championship race and it would be no surprise at all to see the world class Harry Angel romp in again, however on the balance of things we cannot back him.  Having cut himself in the starting stalls at Ascot he ran a shocker and has since has to recover, something his trainer says he’s done but it’s not something we can trust at short prices. 

With the favourite not 100% guaranteed to be at his very best, we can afford to look elsewhere for some each-way value and taking a very simplistic view; why would be believe Group 1 winning three-year-old Eqtidaar will not run well?

He didn’t perform in the July Cup at HQ, but then so many don’t, and a return to the fast progression he’s shown to this point would mean him having a great place chance at a very nice price.  Sir Dancealot and Gustav Klimt are others to consider.

4.25 Kempton (Sirenia Stakes - Group 3) - KONCHEK

As the season wears on more and more lightly raced juveniles announce themselves as potential Group performers, however we can rely on a flashy early season type to get his eventual reward here in the shape of Clive Cox’s Konchek.

A very taking five-furlong debut in May at Newmarket was followed up by a third in Listed company and a fine 5th in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and he hasn’t stopped improving since.  A first Group win is overdue and that can be gained at the expense of Quiet Endeavour and Kessaar.