We’re smack bang between Champions Day and the Breeders’ Cup and in the midst of the crossover between Flat and jumps racing, but that doesn’t mean we are running out of betting opportunities on the level quite yet.
Saturday brings worldwide action starting in Oz and ending with Derby contenders for 2019 running at Doncaster. Here’s the best of the action:
7.00 Moonee Valley (Cox Plate – Group 1) – BENBATL
You’ll need to be up early to catch this one, the Cox Plate being one of Australia’s richest races and things have been stirred up somewhat down under on the lead-up to this race.
Wondermare Winx is going for her 29th consecutive win and a 22nd straight Group 1 success and is therefore rightfully a very short priced favourite indeed. The feeling for some time though in the UK is that while Winx is undoubtedly a high class mare, what she has been beating in Australia leaves a lot to be desired.
Well known racing pundit Matt Chapman has been in Australia and brought up this very subject and, while his comments and questions can be close to the bone at times, Winx’s trainer Chris Waller won nothing with his response on radio when he called Chapman a ****head for even suggesting that her opposition had been inferior.
In truth, Winx at her very best wins this but the evidence suggests that the level she is running at over the last year makes her vulnerable to a proper Group 1 horse and Benbatl is that, without being one of Europe’s very best of course.
His easy win in the Dubai Turf for almost £2.7 million was high class and he warmed up with a Group 1 win at Caulfield two weeks ago in the Ladbrokes Stakes, a run which will put him spot on for a tilt at this race. At these prices we don’t need to bet big to take a chance on a famous win and that’s why with value in mind we take on the champ.
1.45 Doncaster (Doncaster Stakes – Listed Race) – GARRUS
Jeremy Noseda’s horse made a very good impression when stepping up on his debut effort to score at Newmarket in the summer and won very, very easily at Newcastle on his third start.
Things didn’t go to plan when he was stepped up to Group 2 company but he’s been allowed time to recover from that and comes here looking every bit a Group performer, though one that tackles just Listed company this time.
Garrus can prove too good here at a very fair price, with nice type San Donato next on the list ahead of Heartwarming and Canton Queen.
2.20 Newbury (Royal British Legion Stakes – Group 3) – YOUNG RASCAL
This fellow landed the odds for us on his reappearance from a break when getting up close home to win the Arc Trial last month and he can continue his improvement to take this race as well.
Having won the Chester Vase back in May he was rightfully thought of as a genuine Derby contender, though things didn’t go his way at Epsom and he was given some time off before his Newbury success for which he would have been a little undercooked.
The three-year-olds look the way to go in this race so with that in mind, Mark Johnston’s Communique who has done nothing but improve in recent weeks and will see out this trip nicely, is one to keep a close eye on. Quite how much more he really has to offer is still open to question as his trainer tends to leave nothing out on the pitch, but he certainly rates a danger at these weights.
Of the older horses John Gosden’s Weekender looks just about best but in truth could fall some way short of what is required if Young Rascal is near the top of his game which is what I expect, while Morando too looks just a little way short of the jolly’s level.
3.55 Newbury (Radley Stakes – Listed Race) – CERATONIA
Although I was quite taken with the way Hugo Palmer’s Zofelle won on her debut back in July, it was no more impressive than Ceratonia’s first effort around the same time at Ascot and she has gone on to prove she is a filly worth of this and perhaps even a higher level.
Not suited by things in Group 1 company last time around in Paris, she still put up a good display and any forward momentum taken from that run would see her score comfortably in this ahead of the aforementioned Zofelle and Mick Channon’s Gospel.
4.05 Doncaster (Futurity Trophy Stakes – Group 1) – TURGENEV
I do like this horse a lot and have commented before that he’s been underestimated to this point, not just in terms of opinion but on the numbers as well.
He comes into this race rated 101 having won a couple of novice races, but the figures and times don’t tell you just how easily he won those races and how quickly he’s improving and there’s never been a doubt that he can mix it at this level.
To accentuate that point he was second to a race-fit Royal Marine on debut, the horse who went on to score at Group 1 level on Arc day in Paris and all he’s done since is get better. Turgenev is not in the Derby at present but can be entered and looks just the type to head to Epsom next summer.
He can improve enough to get the measure of Aidan O’Brien’s Magna Grecia who looks a strong prospect. Of the others, Phoenix Of Spain and John Gosden’s second string Kick On look like types who can run into the money.