Friday 25 October 2019

Saturday 26th October 2019: Odd One Out Could Take the Futurity

Cheltenham returns this weekend but it’s a little while longer yet before we see the big dogs over jumps, so with some unfinished betting business on the flat we allow Newbury and Doncaster to take centre stage this week.

1.40 Newbury (Class 3 Nursery Handicap) – VISIBLE CHARM

This, at least at first glance, is a very tight and tough to call nursery handicap but while the figures appear to show that the handicapper has very much done his job, there is one horse here who could yet improve beyond his mark.

That horse is Godolphin’s Visible Charm on the basis that in six consistent runs this season (one win), he is arguably yet to race in truly favoured conditions.

Finding himself going a little too far early doors, the more comfortable good ground six brought about some improvement when he won at Nottingham before he was once again stepped up in trip on unsuitably fast ground.

He continues to get better and put up his best run yet when third last time on soft ground, though once again that was over seven and so running on rain-softened ground once again but over this reduced trip should mean he pulls out a few pounds extra, enough to beat Shammah and Smokey Bear.

1.45 Doncaster (Doncaster Stakes – Listed Race) – ART POWER

This is another close race on paper, at least among those with enough form to analyse making the likes of Aberama Gold, Troubador and perhaps Aidan O’Brien’s Hong Kong much of a muchness.

The interesting one however is Tim Easterby’s colt Art Power, the least experienced in the field.  That fact of course means he is unexposed and potentially has more to give, a thought backed up by his easy win on soft ground at York last time.

While the opposition he beat wasn’t much, his time figure marks him out as potentially the best of this bunch so over the extra furlong but on a similar track, he gets the nod at a nice price.

2.20 Newbury (St Simon Stakes – Group 3) – ROYAL LINE

There are various angles to take here and a number of variables; do we treat last time out winner Morando as a genuine improver, or as a six-year-old with a few miles on the clock this term who may have flattened out?

Do we judge Young Rascal on his excellent three-year-old form, especially at this track, or as the horse who lost his form badly and who simply won’t be the same again?

Using official ratings for this one given that all the leading fancies are capable over the course and distance and in the conditions, Young Rascal still has a mark of 115 but has back peddled slightly.  Should 113 be more appropriate and taking into account the 3lbs he gets from the top two, that puts him on 116 at best.

Morando is now rated 118 after his Cumberland Lodge win at Ascot, but given the look of his profile overall and remembering that at 2/1 favourite a win was expected, he may have been inflated slightly with 116 being a little more appropriate.

Royal Line on the other hand, our each-way selection last week in the Long Distance Cup, retains potential and can yet improve further.

Rated 111 after his November Handicap win last term, he went on to improve when winning a Group 3 at Kempton but had his mark unchanged.  His third place behind Kew Gardens and Stradivarius was another step forward and he’s been raised to 113, but it is felt the two miles was too much for him and still more is expected.

John Gosden doesn’t run them quickly unless they’re absolutely bouncing and by now, to be considered for races as good as the one he was third in last week, he needs to be up at around the 118 level at least and it’s felt that’s truly where he belongs.  Should he manage that here, it appears he may be a couple of pounds too good for the field and is a nice price to boot.

2.50 Newbury (Horris Hill Stakes – Group 3) – KINROSS

We’ve seen many times before that juvenile performances that look spectacular aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, but in the case of Kinross’s positively striking debut win at Newmarket it’s fair to assume he’s the real deal.

The 10/3 third-favourite was floundering back in third and the 5/2 jolly was miles back in second, meaning he beat the right horses easily and the clock backed up the visual impression he made.

Given the level I’d expect Year Of The Tiger, Surf Dancer and Boccaccio to get to Ralph Beckett’s charge should have too much and he can enter the classic picture with a win in a race taken by Mohaather last year.

3.25 Doncaster (Futurity Trophy Stakes – Group 1) – KAMEKO

This is the final Group 1 race of the season and one that many called a farce when it was revealed that Aidan O’Brien held eleven of the 12 entries at the five-day stage.

He’s not to blame for that of course, although he is now under pressure as having five of the final field of 6 under his care and still losing the race would be a cause for a little embarrassment, but lose it he just might.

His top two appear to be Mogul, the likely odds-on favourite, and Innisfree.  The former won a Group 2 at Leopardstown last time while the latter is a heavy ground Group 2 winner and is rated only 1lb behind.

Andrew Balding’s Kameko having had, like his rivals, three runs, is rated their equal officially but could have more to give.  Second in the Royal Lodge last time, Kameko was beaten by another O’Brien horse of a very similar standard to this pair.

Based on Roaring Lion though, for the same ownership and also by sire Kitten’s Joy, he may actually relish these softer conditions and it’s felt that he has as much if not more improvement in him than his challengers here so at prices up to 6/1 at the time of writing, he is the value call.

Friday 18 October 2019

Saturday 19th October 2019: Ben to Battle to QEII Win

With only Champions Day at Ascot really in focus this weekend, we’d have been forgiven for thinking that we would have to keep bets to a minimum.

However, with all six races providing very viable betting opportunities despite the heavy going, we can attempt to go right through the card at the Berkshire track.

1.35 Ascot (British Champions Sprint Stakes – Group 1) – HELLO YOUMZAIN

A frightfully competitive renewal of this Group 1 sprint, it’s one in which a number of horses on the forecast going are potentially within a pound or two of each other allowing for improvement or regression.

The likes of Make A Challenge, Frankie Dettori’s popular mount Advertise, One Master and the hugely overpriced each-way option Forever In Dreams are possibly all in with a shout of landing this £330,000 prize but the one who stands out a little for me is Kevin Ryan’s Hello Youmzain.

Only a three-year-old with just seven runs under his belt, naturally he has more to give and boasts a record of two Group 2 wins and a Group 1 success.  He’s done it on very soft ground, finished a close third over the course and distance at this level and will be staying on when others have given up making him the value call under James Doyle.

2.10 Ascot (British Champions Long Distance Cup – Group 2) – ROYAL LINE (w/o favourite) 

This race, indeed the whole day for the organisers, has been about Stradivarius and the brilliant dual Stayers’ Million winner keeping his scoring run going.

On ratings, all things considered, I only get him marginally above his improving stablemate Royal Line though and so at 4/7 and 11/2 respectively at the time of writing, super little Strad is not a betting proposition.

Backing Royal Line in the without the favourite market could be the call, as he may win anyway or could just be good enough to follow his more illustrious pal home.  Should John Gosden walk the course and find that it’s too soft for Frankie’s intended mount also, then he knows he has a very able deputy to take his place and at that point I’d have Royal Line a couple of pounds clear of Mekong.

2.45 Ascot (British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes – Group 1) – STAR CATCHER

A high quality event and one in which we could see big performances from Tawnawa and Fleeting plus an expected improved showing from outsider Sun Maiden.

Seeking a four-timer and a third Group 1 win is John Gosden’s Star Catcher and she is the selection.  Having done it round here on the outer course in the Ribblesdale Stakes before winning the Irish Oaks in some style, she is a filly of great promise for next year and could get the better of stablemate and dual Group 1 winner Anapurna who I get very close on paper.

The final piece of the puzzle is that, despite this being the thoroughly capable Anapurna’s last racecourse appearance, Frankie Dettori has once again plumped for Star Catcher over the Oaks winner and he rarely gets it wrong so while she’s not a huge price, she remains the percentage call.

3.20 Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – Group 1) – BENBATL

There has been strong money all week for French raider The Revenant on account of the heavy ground on the straight course, this being because the son of Dubawi has won his last six and seems to excel on rain-softened surfaces.

While he is a Group 2 winner and his form is improving, he is no superstar and he may yet be vulnerable in this sort of company, albeit there have been stronger QEII renewals.

Guineas winner Magna Grecia clearly has another big performance in him but it would have been interesting to see where Mohaather would have finished in the classic had he not been injured, his trainer reporting him in fine form now.

King Of Comedy is still of interest at Group 1 level although it remains to be seen whether or not he can truly handle this ground, which brings us to the horse who slammed him at Newmarket and that is Benbatl.

A Derby and King George fifth, a Royal Ascot winner, runner-up to Winx and a three-time Group 1 winner in his own right, the Godolphin horse ran probably his all-time best when taking the Joel Stakes by five lengths last time out and regardless of the ground he may just outclass this field under champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

4.00 Ascot (Champion Stakes – Group 1) – ADDEYBB

This is not the strongest Champion Stakes and trainer of second-favourite Addeybb, William Haggas, has even admitted that his charge is not really proper Group 1 class.

There are doubts about whether the ground will even be soft enough for him on the round course too but this being the third race to be run on the day around it, I’d say it’ll churn up plenty and he’ll be seen to his very best effect.

Crack filly Magical has put in some excellent performances but it’s been a long season and she has hit her highest ratings when chasing proper types like Enable and Crystal Ocean home, something she won’t be doing here.

Mehdaayih is overpriced for place money I feel, but Addeybb has so much in his favour that it’s hard to ignore his chances and he may yet be a thoroughly backable price.

4.40 Ascot (Balmoral Handicap) – LORD NORTH

If our bets are to be successful then this won’t be the Frankie Dettori whitewash many are expecting, though he may yet finish on a high.

Lord North took the Cambridgeshire in good style at Newmarket and with the ground perhaps not holding too many fears, he is still well enough handicapped to wrap up another big event before the season is out from his high draw.

Course form could be important and so the likes of Kynren and Clon Coulis enter calculations, however our boy remains a Group horse in a handicap and can win again.

Friday 11 October 2019

Friday 11th & Saturday 12th October 2019: Quad to Motor Past Fillies’ Mile Rivals

The star draw on a busy weekend of flat action is undoubtedly Pinatubo, the highest rated juvenile in many a year, but at 1/3 he is not a betting proposition for us.  We have three value bets from each day of the meeting at HQ, beginning with a classy Group 2: 

Friday 11th October

3.00 Newmarket (Challenge Stakes – Group 2) – LIMATO

A fascinating Group 2 race with challengers coming from different generations and having won over varying distances.

Six-year-old Mustashry of Sir Michael Stoute’s heads the betting and it’s hardly surprising given his form this year.  After taking the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes in May over a mile, he came back to form when running a fine fifth behind Enable in the Eclipse over 1¼ miles so this drop to seven furlongs is an intriguing move.

3yo Shine So Bright has a good future ahead of him and he’s already a Group 2 winner, however it means that just like Mustashry he is penalised for this and so he may find things tough on this ground.

The solid one over the course, distance and ground and who escapes any weight penalties though is crack top-level seven-furlong performer Limato and he is good for one more win.  He was as lively as ever when winning the Criterion Stakes over on the July Course this summer and retains enough ability to take care of these rivals at the weights.

3.35 Newmarket (Fillies’ Mile – Group 1) – QUADRILATERAL

The Irish challenge is strong for this Group 1 with Jessie Harrington’s Cayenne Pepper and Aidan O’Brien’s Love both very capable, however they may struggle ultimately to keep up with the latest star off the Juddmonte production line.

Roger Charlton’s Quadrilateral was not fully fit for her debut but won well nonetheless, while she took a huge step forward to score at Newbury last time by nine lengths and a look at the form of her rivals that day suggests that at 103 she has been underrated.

More improvement is to come and her connections have stumped up a lot of money to supplement her here, so it’s thought she’ll be too good for this field with her relatively wee classic odds for 2020 no doubt about to be shortened further.

5.20 Newmarket (Pride Stakes – Group 3) – FANNY LOGAN

There is a strangely busy overseas challenge for this card-closing mile-and-a-quarter fillies’ Group 3 with runners from France and Ireland looking likely types.

Of them the best look to be Pia Brandt’s Queen and Aidan O’Brien’s Simply Beautiful, but while the race remains competitive in nature, they really shouldn’t be getting to Fanny Logan with all being well.

John Gosden’s former Oaks candidate has really picked up since July, winning three off the bounce on all different types of ground and all at Listed level.

She stays well, is improving and if anything put in her best performance on soft ground so wouldn’t mind more rain.  That day at Salisbury she ran to a level that would make her a place contender in a typical 3yo fillies’ Group 1 and a repeat of that would be enough to win here.

Saturday 12th October 

2.20 Newmarket (Zetland Stakes – Group 3) – VOLKAN STAR

Godolphin could have a very good weekend on the track to compliment the amazing time they’ve had in the Tattersalls sales ring this week, and while we can’t have any of the brilliant Pinatubo at his perfectly understandably restrictive odds in the Dewhurst Stakes, we can grab some value with their Volkan Star.

Having outclassed and outstayed his rivals over a mile to win easily last time out, the Sea The Stars colt should really appreciate this extra test of stamina.

He has achieved just about as much as his main rival Mythical, though he’s had more time off the track to fill out and improve and will appreciate this race distance more than most of the field.  Miss Yoda is another to consider for minor honours.

2.55 Newmarket (Autumn Stakes – Group 3) – MOLATHAM

Arrangements for the Coolmore horses have been fascinating here, with John Gosden training Cherokee Trail who looks their better candidate and that leading to him being ridden by the world’s best jockey in Frankie Dettori.

Ryan Moore however rides, as he usually does, for Aidan O’Brien aboard Persia who therefore carries the team’s first colours but it may simply be that neither of these two are good enough to land this race.

The two to take against the field are probably Al Suhail of Godolphin and Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Molatham.  The former was a good third behind Positive in the Solario Stakes and is clearly improving, however the latter’s win at Doncaster meant it seemed he was on course to tackle this one-mile trip at the top level back there in the Futurity Stakes.

This level is a little easier and if we take his winning form ahead of Wichita literally, not that we necessarily are, then he’d be a stone better than this lot so he gets the nod.

5.20 Newmarket (Darley Stakes – Group 3) – CROSSED BATON

There are the usual solid Group types in this race including Dolphin Vista and Mark Johnston’s consistent all-weather star Matterhorn, but the one who has been weirdly underestimated is Crossed Baton.

Trained by John Gosden, ridden by Frankie Dettori and once seen as a classic contender, you’d have thought this son of Dansili would have gone off favourite but that is not looking likely at the time of writing.

He had wind surgery in the winter, ran poorly on his comeback and was then gelded before another uninspiring performance at Epsom back in August.

But, he’s already reached a level at three to show himself capable of winning this and, more pertinently, he’s been working alongside Enable in order to get her fit for her recent engagements and will no doubt have been improved a tad by that as well as being much more match fit that some would care to realise.

Friday 4 October 2019

Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th October 2019: Ghaiyyath Could Give Enable a Scare in Arc Bid

It’s ‘Enable Day’ on Sunday as the world’s best racehorse goes for the Arc once again, but she is just one of a number of shorties who could all be devastating.

Battaash really should crush his Abbaye field, Line Of Duty continues his comeback and over at Belmont keep an eye on Green Light Go in the Champagne Stakes as he is a viable contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  The one’s for value however this weekend are: 

Saturday 5th October

3.25 Newmarket (Sun Chariot Stakes – Group 1) – VERACIOUS

A top-class fillies’ Group 1 with all the right races represented.  Pretty Polly winner Iridessa runs for Joseph O’Brien, one who stepped down in trip successfully to the mile last time out when taking care of dual Guineas scorer Hermosa of Aidan O’Brien’s.

That Irish form is top-notch, there’s little doubt about that, but in Laurens they have to pass a crack six-time Group 1 winner and of course last year’s champion.  She came into the 2018 race at her very best though, something we can’t claim now given that she was beaten behind the aforementioned O’Brien pair in the Matron, and all in all the recent form of these three fillies is very similar.

In Veracious however we have a typical four-year-old Sir Michael Stoute improver.  Always held in high regard, the daughter of Frankel was well ridden to get her maiden Group 1 win in the Falmouth Stakes under Oisin Murphy and she’s been kept off the track since then in preparation for this.

3.25 Longchamp (Prix de Royallieu – Group 1) – ANAPURNA

There are a number of fillies showing the requisite ability to entitle themselves to be in with a place chance, but all being well this could come down to John Gosden’s trio.

Regular readers will know I am a huge fan of Enbihaar and she will appreciate this 1m6f trip, she is also set to go off favourite at sub-2/1.  On the balance of her form that’s fair, but we know nothing of her ability or otherwise to handle ground this soft and her breeding doesn’t offer a hell of a lot of encouragement in that regard.

Lah Ti Dar has shown herself to be excellent at times, at least visually, but she has struggled at Group 1 level more often than not and it’s perhaps very telling that Frankie Dettori has chosen to ride her stablemate and Oaks winner Anapurna instead.

As is so often the case that early in the season for fillies, the Oaks was about sheer stamina and so this trip could play right into the Espom heroine’s hands.  Having been off the track since her classic win, she was given a pipe-opener in the Prix Vermeille when Frankie wisely chose to ride Star Catcher, but the Italian is back on board now and will be expecting much better things, as do I at a juicy price.

3.40 Ascot (Bengough Stakes – Group 3) – TABDEED

An interesting sprint and one that for these speed merchants will take some getting given the stiff finish and the likely soft ground.  One with strong course form is of course Wokingham winner Cape Byron, and while he remains a solid option one feels he’s showing more and more speed as time goes on so conditions may not be quite to his liking.

Donjuan Triumphant has seen better days but remains capable on this going, though he too will have it all do to do beat Owen Burrows’ Tabdeed.  The 4yo is a real improver, one who scored easily on rain-softened ground last time and who is now 4 from five in his fledgling sprint career.

In taking another step forward here, which is expected, he can prove to be the best of this bunch and let’s not forget that he too has strong course and distance form already in the bag.

Sunday 6th October

3.05 Longchamp (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Group 1) – GHAIYYATH (each-way)

We know this is all about Enable but if there is a value bet to be had, we should grab it.  The wondermare makes what is possibly her last racecourse appearance in this race in pursuit of an unprecedented third Arc victory and it’s felt that as her devastating Yorkshire Oaks win was treated only as a ‘prep’, she may now be in a position to post a career-best performance.

That should be enough, although it can never be guaranteed.  With that we look at whether or not there are any viable betting alternatives and at the current prices the one to be on would have to be Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath.

Always very highly thought of by his top-class yard, the 4yo son of Dubawi went some way to showing how good he is with an astonishing 14-length win in the Grosser Preis von Baden.  The usual anti-handicapper people scoffed at his new rating of 127 which frankly is a nonsensical view, and if any horse in the race can put it up to Enable on pure ability then it will be him.

The fact however that at potential double-figure prices he is a good each-way bet remains very attractive and so that is the advice; to back Ghaiyyath each-way.

Magical has almost made a career out of chasing Enable home and should not be good enough to beat her, while stable companion Japan looks very good but may or may not appreciate the ground.  Sottsass is probably the pick of the home team, though I don’t share his trainer’s views on him being “special”.

5.05 Longchamp (Prix de la Foret – Group 1) – GLORIOUS JOURNEY

This is a competitive race staged at a rather in between trip of seven furlongs but it’s one in which Glorious Journey can claim a first win at the top level.

He is improving steadily over time, ran well for a long way in the July Cup, loves this trip and recorded an easy Group 2 win on soft ground last time.  Charlie Appleby had the option of running Space Blues in this, but instead relies on the selection who is a very good price.

City Light, One Master and Germain raider Waldfpad are all solid place options too.