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.