We can almost feel a little cheated that there isn’t a Group 1 being run in Britain for once this weekend after the headrush that has been this concertinaed season so far.
That said, it’s Irish Oaks day over at the Curragh on Saturday and in the States the Haskell Stakes can hand out very important Kentucky Derby clues with Bob Baffert’s Authentic on the comeback trail. Indeed, he is my early fancy for the big one on September 5th.
We’re about trying to find good value betting options however and so with that in mind, these five appeal most beginning with two at Haydock’s Friday evening meeting.
Friday 17th July 2020
6.25 Haydock (Tapster Stakes – Listed Race) – EL MISK
We have some small fields at Haydock on Friday night including in this race, but the weather is set fair and conditions should be ideal for the always promising El Misk of John Gosden’s yard in this 1½-mile Listed event.
Seemingly always running in small fields, the son of Dansili has shown generally progressive form and there’s no reason his advancement should stop now with this race set-up looking ideal. Rab Havlin travels to ride.
In behind things are tight; Ispolini isn’t at his best but remains a place threat, as does Trueshan while both Mountain Hunter and recent all-weather winner Alignak can also get involved at some stage.
6.55 Haydock (Conditions Stakes) – D’BAI
A fascinating conditions race featuring plenty who were initially aimed at Pattern races elsewhere. The overall quality of the race is equal to a Listed or Group 3 event and while on private ratings it’s close, I’d say D’bai may prove best of them just ahead of Happy Power.
The betting, with Happy Power at the head of it, is shaped around the fact that several of these ran behind Space Blues over the course and distance last month, but D’bai needed the run there and did much better behind the same horse in France next time.
He’s a solid proposition for Charlie Appleby and he can get the better of the Balding horse, Mubtasim, Snazzy Jazzy and Ostilio.
Saturday 18th July 2020
1.55 York (Silver Cup – Group 3) – MOONLIGHT SPIRIT
While on official ratings Mark Johnston’s Communique comes out on top here and he’s obviously in great form, the 1m6f trip is a question mark for him and so seldom do runners from that stable put up their very best performance twice in a row.
David Simcock’s Universal Order is another in with a fair shout, but the one to concentrate on could be the horse Charlie Appleby clearly thinks can enter the proper staying ranks and challenge Stradivarius at some stage and that is Moonlight Spirit.
Second to Technician last season in a French Group 2 on ground that clearly suited his rival, he is progressing nicely and should be able to reach a new level now after the 2½-mile trip and the very soft ground in the Gold Cup at Ascot didn’t suit him last time on his first start since being gelded.
3.05 York (City Walls Stakes – Listed Race) – EQUILATERAL
Looking at the prices here, it may well simply have been forgotten that Equilateral ran second to Battaash over his favoured five-furlong trip two runs ago and he can prove to be the best of this bunch.
In chasing his stablemate home at Royal Ascot, many were surprised but readers of this column shouldn’t have been after he was recommended as an alternative to the very short-priced champion there.
Now bought from Khalid Abdulla by Fitri Hay, Charlie Hills’ five-year-old can actually still reach a career high this season and while that is not necessarily needed here, he may well achieve it anyway and that would of course be good enough under James Doyle.
Alpha Delphini, albeit coming off a long break, can also make his mark while Que Amoro still has a little way to go yet despite potentially going off favourite for this race. Old favourites El Astronaute and Major Jumbo may prove to have just a little bit too much to do in what looks a pretty hot race for a Listed event.
4.00 Newbury (Hackwood Stakes – Group 3) – SHINE SO BRIGHT
If this race goes to a six-furlong specialist then it would naturally prove to be no surprise, however at the likely prices a chance can be taken on Andrew Balding’s Shine So Bright.
A generally progressive four-year-old, the son of Oasis Dream just went far too fast over seven furlongs last time at Epsom but still ran a solid race, making this event look just about ideal.
A Group 2 winner only last summer ahead of Laurens at York, a race of this nature is well within Shine So Bright’s compass and so it makes sense to me that retained rider Silvestre De Sousa chooses to come here rather than go to Haydock to ride the likes of Happy Power.
In what promises to be a fast-paced event, we can now see the very best of this animal.
Another improver is three-year-old Repartee of Kevin Ryan’s yard, though he may just find this race a little hot, while Tabdeed is also overpriced for Owen Burrows and should not be discounted.
Dakota Gold travels here instead of going over five furlongs at York, Mums Tipple is a total enigma and I cannot believe that at this stage and in these conditions The Tin Man and Judicial are being advertised as the top two in the market.