This week is somewhat of a “calm before the storm” scenario, given that the next two weekends encompass the rearranged Kentucky Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster.
That said, despite the lack of Group 1 action in Britain there are some flashy types on show and we are banking on their class to bring us some profit at Newmarket, Goodwood and Windsor.
12.20 Newmarket (Nursery Handicap) – LOST IN SPACE
The opening race at HQ is a tight little seven-furlong nursery, one in which on paper several have a winning chance.
At the bottom of the weights In Paradise is one of three entries on the card for Richard Fahey, and while she appears to be well enough handicapped, she may just lack a little bit of class.
Godolphin’s Last Sunset is interesting, but she’s done her work so far on the Polytrack at Kempton and one can never be sure of how that form will transfer to the turf.
John Gosden’s Lost In Space however was a very cosy winner last time at Lingfield and should see this out well. Cieren Fallon’s mount for his new retainer as second jockey to Qatar Racing has the unique benefit of being ahead of the handicapper, and yet having more experience than all bar one in this field. Huge chance.
1.50 Goodwood (Prestige Stakes – Group 3) – POMELO
The Prestige is often a very good stepping stone for a Group 1 type, and the one filly in the line-up who looks like making it to the very top is Pomelo of Ralph Beckett’s yard.
A very easy winner on debut at Newbury, she recorded a performance that few would beat in a given year for a first time out run and it was obvious from the off that connections believe she is a Group One type.
By Dubawi, should Harry Bentley’s mount score here in good enough style she will be given skinny quotes for next season’s 1000 Guineas and while that is far from certain at this stage, it does go to show what sort of filly we are dealing with here.
Chief opposition comes from last week’s valuable sales winner Happy Romance. In taking the £89,000 first prize at York, Richard Hannon’s girl took her prize money up to £177,000 already but that has served to somewhat elevate unnecessarily her reputation in my opinion.
She’s good, but whether she can be as explosive over seven furlongs and beat a potential top-notcher who has been given 41 days to strengthen and improve remains a doubt.
2.05 Newmarket (Hopeful Stakes – Listed Race) – JASH
A solid six-furlong sprint race at Listed level, this is one in which plenty is expected of the six-year-old Summerghand who actually achieved a career best last time out when winning the Stewards’ Cup for David O’Meara.
He is good, there’s no doubt there, but in these specific race conditions I cannot see him being at his very peak and that lets in one or two, notably Sunday Star and Jash.
Sunday Star is an improving filly of Ed Walker’s who holds every chance, though may not quite see out this particular six furlongs as well as hoped, while Jash was once considered top class and may yet reach that level once more.
A close second to the brilliant Ten Sovereigns in the Middle Park two years ago, he returned last season with a win but got injured and missed a chunk of his career. He simply blew up on his return after a breathing operation at Newcastle earlier in the month and more is expected of him now, Jim Crowley choosing the one-time 118-rated horse ahead of Shabaaby and he looks a tempting price.
2.40 Windsor (August Stakes – Listed Race) – ALOUNAK
There is also a Group 3 race on this card, but the one throwing up a betting opportunity is this Listed affair in which David Simcock’s Desert Encounter looks likely to go off favourite.
The eight-year-old is certainly very solid, but in these conditions (with some juice in the ground) and at this age he will almost certainly not be at his best which leaves him more than a little vulnerable.
Hughie Morrison’s Le Don De Vie is one who could challenge him, but if returning to something near his best it should be Andrew Balding’s Alounak putting his best foot forward.
A German import for King Power Racing, Alounak has run just OK on faster ground but a repeat of his second to Fanny Logan at Ascot would be more than enough to take this.
3.35 Goodwood (Celebration Mile – Group 2) – BENBATL
The feature race, while competitive enough, may turn out to be a battle up the home stretch between Regal Reality and the returning Benbatl.
Both high quality, the former came right back to himself for Sir Michael Stoute last time when hosing up in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury. A repeat of that is not guaranteed on ground perhaps a little juicier than ideal, so even in receipt of weight he may not be a match for the excellent Benbatl.
A versatile type, Benbatl was outstanding on the dirt in Dubai before finishing an excellent third to Maximum Security in the Saudi Cup, but he hammered King Of Comedy over a mile on the turf at Newmarket last season and was second to Winx in Australia before that. A genuine Group One type.