Friday 27 September 2019

Saturday 28th September 2019: Siskin to Take Lyons Share of Middle Park Pot

It’s Cambridgeshire Handicap day at Newmarket but as always, the number of horses who could win the feature is into double figures and no longer are bookmakers offering enough incentive with their books to make backing several of them viable.

HQ is still the place to be though with a number of good value types running on the card, including three juveniles I am particularly keen on this weekend beginning with one in the Royal Lodge.

1.50 Newmarket (Royal Lodge Stakes – Group 2) – YEAR OF THE TIGER

Rating this race wasn’t the easy task it should’ve been with potential Group 1 types, but what has been evident is that at the very least there should be some value in the race, albeit to small stakes.

Kameko is the rightful favourite based on his narrow second behind Positive in the Solario Stakes, but that race was a lot more about pace than this one will be and while Andrew Balding’s colt is a Derby entry, he may not see this race out as well as some and may not offer a great deal more of improvement either.

At around the 8/1 mark overnight though, Aidan O’Brien’s Year Of The Tiger is a more than fair price to take on as a small bet.  His bare form isn’t good enough, but he wasn’t himself last time and a better race to rate him on would be his very easy maiden win in July.

On that he could be a 105-110 horse now and, having been off the track for 77 days and with O’Brien known for getting the very best out of them when it counts, he could easily be good enough to put it up to the favourite.

2.25 Newmarket (Cheveley Park Stakes – Group 1) – TROPBEAU

The first of two Group 1’s on the card.  Andre Fabre comes to Newmarket looking for a very high-profile double and, while he may be disappointed by Earthlight, he could gain a huge win in this contest with Tropbeau.

Main rival Raffle Prize is understandably put in as favourite overnight and she ran on the same Deauville card as the selection back in August.  She looks all speed though and we should bear in mind that, even over six furlongs, the Rowley Mile will take some getting so Tropbeau’s very classy win over seven last time marks her out as one who shouldn’t be stopping at the business end.

This is a tight race with Living In The Past not rated far behind the main two, but Tropbeau’s price is more than fair and she rates just about the best of them.

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

This has been billed as the Race of the Year by many, with the likes of Threat, Lope Y Fernandez and Monarch Of Egypt probably good enough some years to be considered leading lights.

They are all bigger prices for this renewal given the presence of three potentially brilliant unbeaten colts, with Fabre’s Earthlight headlining the event.

The Godolphin colt, a son of Shamardal, is already a Group 1 winner having taken the Prix Morny last time and he has been prepped for this since.  He only just got there last time though and would probably have ideally stepped up in trip in the Dewhurst had it not been for the all-conquering Pinatubo being aimed at that, so we can’t say he ticks every single box here.

The spectacular visual performance of Mums Tipple last time at York has got him in at second-favourite, with the clock backing up his 11-length win.  He won on debut too, and from Molathem no less, though that was nowhere near as impressive and it could just be that York was very much to his liking.

That leaves us with Ger Lyons’ Siskin who at around 9/2 looks far too big based on what he has achieved thus far.

Super-impressive on debut, the American-bred quickly followed up with a Listed success before easily taking care of Monarch Of Egypt at Group 3 level.  He stepped forward again when taking the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes from the same rival and we can significantly upgrade that performance based on him not liking the soft conditions at all.

He’s a true class act and has been given 50 days to get over those exertions, with Colin Keane’s mount ready now to put his best foot forward in a race that looks completely ideal for him. 

4.15 Newmarket (Maiden Fillies’ Stakes) – BAAQY

After the exhilaration and excitement of the Cambridgeshire and two Group 1’s comes this £10,000 maiden fillies’ stakes, but it provides a betting opportunity all the same.

Runners such as Lady Lynetta, Princess Bride and Aidan O’Brien’s Love Bracelet are all capable, but the standout is definitely John Gosden’s one-raced Iffraj filly Baaqy.

At 7/2 a decent performance was expected of her on debut back in July, though having led early she ran sixth of 8 behind the decent Light Blush.  Even the bare form of that would give her a shout here, but in fact she can improve no end for the experience and for the time she’s been given and so rates a very fair shout to get the better of her field.

10.49 Belmont Park (Jockey Club Gold Cup – Grade 1) – TACITUS

Tacitus has had his issues in running and in all fairness he was put in his place last time by today’s rival Code Of Honor, but he remains a colt of great potential and on the balance of things he looks good value here.

His morning line odds of 5/2 are fair enough, but even better is the prospect of grabbing 7/2 with at least one UK bookmaker now that he has a small field and an inside gate.  Winning this would propel him into the Breeders’ Cup Classic reckoning too making this race about more than the £300,000 first place prize money.

Friday 20 September 2019

Saturday 20th September (Ayr Gold Cup Day): Equilateral Shaping Up Well for Hills

It’s Ayr Gold Cup day this Saturday but with that race on the impossible side of difficult from a betting point of view, these five little belters look the way to go when it comes to grabbing some good value this weekend: 

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

When discussing Michael Dods versus Charlie Hills in a sprint race you’d be forgiven for thinking that the subject matter might be Mabs Cross v Battaash, but on Saturday it’s the turn of the respective yards’ slightly lesser lights to shine.

Dods is represented by the likely favourite here, Dakota Gold, a four-time winner this season who has simply gone from strength to strength since scoring at York in July.  The five-year-old gelding went on to win the Great St Wilfrid, another valuable York handicap and latterly a Listed race back on the Knavesmire which is a track that has appeared to suit him well.

His trainer reckons this course, as well as the drop to the minimum trip, should be in his favour but while his form is admirably consistent it has arguably topped out now making him vulnerable to one that can improve somewhat.

That improver could be four-year-old Equilateral, Charlie Hills’ son of Equiano who went mightily close to beating Mabs Cross earlier this season in the Palace House Stakes.

He’s rated just 2lbs lower than Dakota Gold is now, he’s bound to come on from his own Listed win for which his trainer said he was undercooked, and in fact has always been thought of as a sprinter who could compete at the very highest level eventually.

On the balance of things Equilateral then, under Ryan Moore once again, is great value against Dakota Gold with the likes of Hit The Bid and Judicial potentially fighting on for place money.

2.20 Newbury (Legacy Cup Stakes – Group 3) – WADILSAFA

Formerly known as the Arc Trial of course, this 1m3f event is no longer seen as a viable stepping stone to the big one in Paris but yet it could still be won by a decent middle-distance type for the future.

I’m saying that because I believe it’s worth taking a little chance at small stakes on Wadilsafa.  After beating fine prospect Herculean last season, the son of Frankel went on to win at Listed level before circumstances went against him, most notably the ground.

Having been campaigned largely over a mile it’s an interesting move of Owen Burrows’ to see him go up to this sort of trip on good racing ground, something that could bring the best out of a horse who is only four years of age and has raced just nine times to date.

To put the numbers into context, the strong favourite is Desert Encounter who has won his last two races.  He’s officially rated 115 but carries a 3lb penalty.  Wadilsafa has been rated 112 this term, effectively the same as his rival with the penalty taken into consideration, and he is yet to reach his peak.

These two aren’t alone in having an opportunity to win of course with the likes of Pondus and Waldstern not without chances, but at tissue odds of around the 8/1 mark in a five-runner race our boy is simply too good a price to ignore.

2.25 Catterick (Nursery Handicap) – ETON COLLEGE

This is only a small race, but it’s one in which Mark Johnston’s Eton College should simply outclass his rivals.  Carrying 10st4lbs having reached a fair mark of 87 after a win at Ascot in July, he has a bit of a burdensome weight but also the class to carry it all the way home.

He was right back to form last time when staying on well in a decent race at Chelmsford over six furlongs and now he steps up to seven, something that should drag further improvement out of him and make him too hot to handle for the likes of Kuwait Shield and Little Ted.  Franny Norton takes the ride.

2.55 Newbury (Mill Reef Stakes – Group 2) – PIERRE LAPIN

The obvious one on the book here is King Power’s Mystery Power, trained by Richard Hannon.  Although well beaten behind Pinatubo at Goodwood, the No Nay Never colt had won his first two starts including the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at HQ over seven furlongs.

He steps down to six here, which may or may not be to his liking, and has a clear form chance but there are holes you can pick in his profile too.

A proper, close look at his Superlative win makes one think his subsequent rating of 112 was a little generous.  He’s down to 111 now after a below-par run and is penalised 3lbs, leading to us being able to treat him as a 108 at horse at the very most, though probably a tad lower in all honesty giving rivals a reasonable level to aim at.

That brings in fine debut winner Pierre Lapin of Roger Varian’s yard.  Having been very good when taking care of a Godolphin horse at Haydock back in May he’s been off the track, but he would not be thrown straight back in at this level if he weren’t showing the right signs at home.

He was always highly thought of, going off even-money favourite last time, and is entered in both the Middle Park and the Dewhurst Stakes later in the season.  What we have to decide is; do we think he would have been rated higher than Mystery Power by now had he been able to run since May? The answer for me is yes and so I think he’s value to take this race.  Shadn is next on the list.

4.00 ParisLongchamp (Prix du Prince d’Orange – Group 3) – DUBAI WARRIOR

This is a cracking Group 3 contest for the three-year-olds and it will be fascinating to see one-time Derby hopeful Dubai Warrior move up to a mile-and-a-quarter.

True, he was beaten in a handicap last time, but he’s on a sharp upward curve and can take a step towards competing in Group 1’s here which is what is ultimately expected of him.  All things considered, Winterfuchs and Soudania are the best of the rest.

Saturday 14 September 2019

Saturday 14th September 2019: Gosden Colt the Logical Leger Choice

In terms of quality we have not seen a weekend like this in quite a while.  Both the English and Irish St Legers are run as well as the Irish Champion Stakes and that trio of races are just the collective tip of the iceberg.

As for betting value some of these contests have provided us with some great opportunities to take favourites on, especially at Doncaster as you’ll see below, although in the Leger itself it seems Logician is very much the one to side with.  Here’s the best of the betting action on the flat: 

2.05 Chester (Stand Cup Stakes – Listed Race) – BEN VRACKIE

Three-year-olds Manuela De Vega and Durston will undoubtedly be dangerous in receipt of weight around here, but with a bright future still ahead of him over this mile-and-a-half trip John Gosden’s Ben Vrackie could prove to be just too good on this occasion.

His two main rivals have reached marks of 103 and 100 now while the selection is rated 106, but even on those numbers there is yet more we can pick apart.  Ben Vrackie reached 104 by the end of his 3yo campaign and started off this year with a very fine second to Baghdad at Royal Ascot, meaning that with natural improvement connections will expect him to reach 110+.

He’s only down at his current level because of a below-par performance at HQ and a 7th at York in the £1million Ebor, not exactly a bad run, but back at this trip he can reach his peak and that should prove too hot for the others to handle.

2.25 Doncaster (Park Stakes – Group 2) – TURJOMAAN

Assuming this race comes down to the selection and likely favourite Shine So Bright, this really is a great betting opportunity at the odds given that Turjomaan appears to be every bit as good as his main rival, possibly better in fact, and yet is in receipt of 3lbs in weight.

Shine So Bright nudged out Laurens last time over this trip across at York whereas Turjomaan was second in a Group 3 at Goodwood, although he will have come on since and will appreciate racing conditions here more.  He has had more time off the track to freshen up, will appreciate this drop down in trip and is simply overpriced at around the 3/1 mark for trainer Roger Varian and jockey Dane O’Neill.

3.00 Doncaster (Champagne Stakes – Group 2) – ROYAL CRUSADE

Both Threat and Juan Elcano are proven at this sort of level and both can eventually make their mark as three-year-olds, however taking into account his slow start and the way in which he finished his race the debut performance of Royal Crusade was one of the best you’ll see in a given year and he looks like a Group 1 horse for sure.

The son of Shamrdal is in the Middle Park and the Dewhurst at Newmarket with those races certainly looking his level and so he may take this race in his stride for trainer Charlie Appleby.

3.35 Doncaster (St Leger – Group 1) – LOGICIAN

True, he’s a very short price after his impressive Great Voltigeur win, but with some good value bets elsewhere to help boost the coffers it’s worth mentioning that Logician very much is the rightful shorty for the Leger and can be backed if prices remain at around the even-money mark.

Trainer John Gosden has been quick to point out that his staying the extended mile and six furlong trip isn’t guaranteed and that he’d be better with a little more juice in the ground, but on the former point his running style and profile suggest he’ll see it out as well as any rival in this field and on the latter it’s the same for basically the lot of them.

With those things in mind this taking roan remains the one to be on, with the race for second place being contested by several including Sir Dragonet, Il Paradiso and Sir Ron Priestley.

4.15 Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes – Group 1) – ELARQAM

This is a race chock full of quality, just as it should be.  We shouldn’t discount Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck here who has more to give yet, but it’s simply a mark of the level this race is at that Ryan Moore rides something else and Madhmoon, who chased him home at Epsom, is more strongly fancied at this trip.

Madhmoon warmed up for this race with an easy success over a mile and he is definitely a 120+ horse in the making, but to exactly what degree we simply don’t know.

Similar things can be said of the impressive looking Headman who has won two races in France very well when things weren’t in his favour at Group 2 level, but again while he is certainly a Group 1 horse in the making we don’t know just how far he can go or whether he’ll do it as early as this season with his trainer sounding cautious.

Ryan Moore rides the admirable filly Magical and they are very worthy favourites.  Not outside of the first two in eight runs since winning at Ascot last year, she has made a habit of chasing home Enable but while this would seem easier on paper it could also be true that horses such as Enable and Crystal Ocean have been rather “dragging” the best out of her.

Elarqam is a different proposition.  Eventually proving to be the horse we all thought he was before injury, a very fine win at Group 2 level at York was backed up by a rather unlucky-in-running third behind superstars Japan and Crystal Ocean and ahead of King Of Comedy in what looked a vintage Juddmonte International last month.  He can go one better here at Group 1 level to ultimately back-up his amazing breeding.

Friday 6 September 2019

Saturday 7th September: Invincible to March to Group 1 Glory at Haydock

Saturday’s action is jam packed with plenty of competitive handicaps backing up some good Group race action, highlighted of course by Haydock’s Group 1 Sprint Cup at 4.10.

There’s lots of value to be had if you look around, but on a busy betting day it seems these six horses are the ones to concentrate on. 

1.50 Haydock (Handicap) - FIRST IN LINE

This 1m6f race could be quite some test for the field in the forecast soft ground, but in John Gosden’s First In Line we have a horse with all the right credentials to see this out right to the line.

Having only run four times the son of New Approach has plenty of improvement left in him yet this season and despite a good second at York on quick ground last time out, there’s plenty in his profile to encourage us as regards the going.

As well as his breeding we can point to what was a very easy novice win for the three-year-old at Doncaster two outings ago on rain-softened turf to make us believe conditions will be fine, while his new handicap mark of 100 still doesn’t really represent how good he is.

Both Alan King’s Truseshan and Ralph Beckett’s Moon King are on good runs and can be dangerous, though perhaps now just don’t have as much left to give as Frankie Dettori’s mount.

2.05 Kempton (September Stakes - Group 3) - ROYAL LINE

John Gosden of course won this last year with a genuine superstar and while Royal Line is no Enable, he doesn’t have a Crystal Ocean up against him either.

The lightly-raced Metropolitan and November Handicap winner had plenty of options in the book, but connections have settled on what looks just the right one in terms of ground, trip and class.

The likely favourite is Godolphin’s Best Solution based on his exploits abroad, particularly in Australia, but the thought is that he may just need this run and so will be vulnerable to a smart rival off level weights.

In a competitive renewal the likes of Mootasadir, Pivoine and the filly Sun Maiden cannot be ruled out, but at likely odds our boy seems value enough to shake them off.

3.15 Kempton (London Mile Handicap) - MOTAWAJ

Back on Kempton’s all-weather and despite this being a naturally competitive race, having been given a good draw Roger Varian’s Motawaj can regain his progressive thread after not doing so well on turf last time.

Back over this course and distance in July Motawaj routed his opposition in the style of a good animal, albeit at a lowly level, and now off a mark still some way short of what he’s capable of he can land win number three of his career under Jack Mitchell.

His opposition is plentiful of course so there are each-way bets to be had, Gossiping, Freeloading and Kuwait Currency all being expected to do well.

3.35 Haydock (Old Borough Cup Handicap) - ALRIGHT SUNSHINE

A difficult staying handicap to solve right enough, but as a progressive handicapper who is two from two in such races on the level and trained by a man in Keith Dalgleish who knows how to get the job done in such races this Alright Sunshine looks like a fair bet.

A winner at Ripon and Musselburgh already, the 4yo Casamento gelding could just take his form to a new level here when it’s needed and take care of the likes of Corelli and Reshoun for the win.

4.10 Haydock (Sprint Cup Stakes - Group 1) - INVINCIBLE ARMY

On initial ratings it seemed we had a steal in this race in the shape of Ten Sovereigns at 5/1, but with both he and Advertise now out a rethink was needed and yet we could still have a great value punt.

Khaadem is all the rage after his Stewards’ Cup win but in the end that was a handicap, making remarks about Invincible Army being unproven at Group 1 level look silly when so many are backing the jolly.

In one particularly good Group race win James Tate’s Invincible Spirit colt blew away a decent field at Newcastle, that success having been achieved on slower than normal going at Gosforth Park with an uphill finish to contend with which gives him plenty of appeal in these conditions.

He’s good enough, there’s little doubt about that, so with in my opinion the two best now not taking part he has a great chance of Group 1 success.  Waldpfad and Brando are rated next on the list.

4.25 Kempton (Sirenia Stakes - Group 3) - HURAIZ

Strictly speaking on the book Clive Cox’s Streamline is the one here after three good performances, improving each time including here at Kempton, but where juveniles are concerned there is always something to come out of the pack and surprise one or two and I think it could be Mark Johnston’s Huraiz.

He’s two from two himself, and while he only just got there last time in a novice stakes at Newmarket these conditions can bring out much more.

Johnston would usually be more than happy taking in a conditions race or a nursery had this son of Sepoy not been showing too much, but with fancy entries in the book and this track set to suit an early Group 3 success could be on the cards for him and jockey Joe Fanning.