The flat action comes thick and fast at this time of year. This weekend we get to see a classic renewal of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and with barely enough time to digest that, Glorious Goodwood is right around the corner.
In the King George I feel like despite the quality of Defoe, Anthony Van Dyck, Waldgeist and especially Crystal Ocean, if superstar mare Enable is on her game then she should not be beaten but of course she will not be allowed to go off at a backable price.
Look out also for a great clash between Regal Reality, Elarqam and Addeybb in the York Stakes with that one too close for me to call, while Sir Michael Stoute sends Derevo up to Newcastle to their mile-and-a-half handicap on ladies day.
For us it’s all about Newmarket on Friday and Ascot on Saturday for betting purposes with Jim Crowley and James Doyle, retained riders for Sheikh Hamdan and Godolphin respectively, undoubtedly the riders to follow.
Friday 26th July 2019
7.10 Newmarket (Class 3 Handicap) – ALMASHRIQ
Just a small one-mile handicap but one featuring a fair amount of quality on the July Course, and if tactics don’t ruin the contest then we should see more improvement from the well thought of Almashriq of John Gosden’s yard and he can record a second career win in his first-time visor.
A scorer on debut last year at Newcastle, he was backed heavily on his seasonal return over the Rowley Mile when thought of as a potential runner in the 2000 Guineas, though he failed to fire that day. He improved plenty to take second at Chelmsford in a novice race before not enjoying the 1m2f trip last time, with this course and distance much more to his liking.
William Jarvis’ Arigato is next on the list with Baba Ghanouj also likely to attract support.
Saturday 27th July 2019
1.50 Ascot (Princess Margaret Stakes – Group 3) – SUMMER ROMANCE
We have a big enough field of 12 for this and naturally it’s packed full of unexposed fillies, but it’s a contest that invariably goes to a horse of real quality and so I’m not anticipating a massive shock.
While the Irish filly Punita Arora looked good two weeks ago when winning at Navan and Ultra Violet did incredibly well to score on debut after missing the kick by four lengths (still won it by eight), they are not guaranteed to be top class and so look to have a fair bit to find with Charlie Appleby’s Summer Romance.
The daughter of Kingman was very impressive on debut and yet still left that form well behind when monstering a Listed field at Newmarket last time out, a performance that marked her out as an almost definite future Group 1 winner. This could be the ideal way for James Doyle to start his afternoon on a day when he rides Crystal Ocean in the big one for Sir Michael Stoute.
2.25 Ascot (Class 2 Handicap) – WINGS OF TIME
We’ve gone for Wings Of Time a couple of occasions before, the gelding obliging last time out, and that’s because he started from a really low base but could yet be a Group horse and as such remains very well-handicapped given that he is bound to improve yet more as time goes by.
Once again the combination of Charlie Appleby and James Doyle are at play here, their son of Invincible Spirit looking sure to enjoy these conditions and potentially being too strong for Richard Hannon’s in-form Motakhayyel who won at Newmarket last time out and could be set to go off favourite for this race.
Flashcard, second to the Hannon horse at HQ, and Prince Of Harts are next on the list in this valuable mile handicap but the Godolphin runner looks to be the one with the most potential and gets the nod to score at a fair price.
3.00 Ascot (International Stakes – Handicap) – MUBHIJ
Mubhij has been thought of as a horse going places for some time now and he is fast becoming the sort of strong travelling type Roger Varian always thought he would be.
Bearing in mind that this race was always the plan and he won’t have been trained to the minute for his last outing, to watch the way he came into the contest at Newcastle on his last run before powering clear and seeing out the seven furlongs up the hill was really pleasing and it seems he is now spot-on for this hot contest.
Arbalet, ridden by James Doyle today, was a close second in this race last year and remains in top form while Fanaar, in the same ownership as the selection, looks a three-year-old who is going places and is another with an outstanding place chance under Tom Marquand.
Roger Varian’s other horse Spanish City looks solid and Ripp Orf cannot be without a chance, but it’s the potential of Mubhij that catches the eye the most and he could land the £93,000 first prize under Jim Crowley.
4.15 Ascot (Pat Eddery Stakes – Listed Race) – AL DABARAN
Unfortunately at the time of writing I have no idea what sort of price to expect about this Godolphin juvenile, another selection trained by Appleby and ridden by Doyle who must be incredibly excited about their weekend.
There is nothing not to like about him though; a son of Dubawi who won impressively on debut with another Godolphin horse back in second, one who stays this trip well and will not be phased by the camber or the stiffness of the track and who has been off 28 days which will mean he hasn’t had the edge taken off him and should come on a ton.
At the normal rate of improvement for a colt of this type, Al Dabaran should have five or so pounds in hand on the likes of Buhturi, Maxi Boy and Ropey Guest and may take this before going on to better things later in the year.