It’s a massive weekend of action over both codes as the flat and jumps seasons continue for a while to intersect.
Ascot hosts Sodexo Gold Cup day while on the level we are racing at headquarters which is where we begin on Saturday.
Saturday 31st October 2020
12.55 Newmarket (Nursery Handicap) – BRANWELL
We have heavy ground at Newmarket on a long and yawning Rowley Mile which takes some getting at the best of times. So, for these let’s say ‘less than the usual quality’ Newmarket juveniles going over nine furlongs this race really is a true stamina test.
That said, the right yards are represented and the pace should be honest with Mark Johnston’s Reams Of Love in the field, one who at the weights I think is very close on the book with John Gosden’s Side Shot and Brian Meehan’s Mojandil.
The one single horse who stands out on potential though is Branwell and he is the value call. On the all-weather last time Charlie Appleby’s horse ran very green and lost plenty of ground at the start. He is several pounds better therefore than that bare form, has been gelded since which will calm him down and can improve again on what he should have achieved last time.
If he reaches the level that is expected of him, then he’s well-in in the handicap here under Will Buick.
2.05 Newmarket (Montrose Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – ZEYAADAH
This will be another tough event for the runners, the juvenile fillies going over the mile this time.
Alba Rose will be rightfully well fancied for a number of reasons. She is the highest rated filly in the race to this point, she is trained by Mark Johnston whose horses are notoriously tough and she has improved in lumps from race to race so far.
That said, she hasn’t had to run on ground quite this deep and that could blunt her progression, so the other improver Zeyaadah is given the nod at a better overnight price.
Roger Varian’s Tamayuz filly is unbeaten in two starts having won when slowly away at Chelmsford, before winning easily at Beverley. Frankly though she has looked on both occasions as though she is in need of a great test and so this particular mile, let alone the heavy ground, should be ideal and she will be boxing on when others have given up I feel.
The only other horse that on paper I can see getting seriously involved is George Boughey’s Mystery Angel, for whom he has booked Frankie Dettori, but in the conditions anything could happen and so nothing can be completely ruled out with any certainty.
3.15 Newmarket (Ben Marshall Stakes – Listed Race) – ZAKOUSKI
The one-mile Ben Marshall Stakes has been won by some quality types in the past and the roll of honour could be topped by Zakouski, a four-year-old with a bright future if Sheikh Mohammed decides to keep him in training.
After a very successful time at the Dubai Carnival before lockdown where he won a valuable handicap and a Group 2 race, he had a well-deserved long rest and we can safely ignore his last run when he was slowly away and ran over the wrong trip. He still finished OK that day to be fair too.
We don’t know what fellow Godolphin and Charlie Appleby runner King’s Command can do as the three-year-old is somewhat of a talented enigma, but despite him getting the blue cap we know William Buick gets first choice and he is siding with Zakouski.
Stormy Antarctic should enjoy this and will go well, while Epic Hero will be well fancied but conversely may just struggle a little on the ground.
3.20 Wetherby (Charlie Hall Chase – Grade 2) – CYRNAME
While there is always the possibility of something going wrong in this game, there is precious little to dislike about Cyrname’s chances in this race on paper.
True, his last two runs leave a little to be desired, however all good horses are entitled to a bad patch and this eight-year-old is very far from finished. He is usually a strong jumper, likes to be out on or near the lead which is a good tactic for Wetherby and at his best he is well clear of this field.
If we can expect Paul Nicholls’ charge to be back to his true form then he looks like an odds-on shot who is priced at 2/1+ and that has to be taken.
Some people think Cyrname’s very high official rating is inflated and false, but he has ran to it on several occasions and that’s not a coincidence.
Up and comer Vinndication is next on the list and he remains a chaser going places, while Sam Spinner can improver over fences but even at the weights, he may well just have too much to do in this contest.
Sunday 1st November 2020
2.00 Naas (Athasi Stakes – Group 3) – WITH THANKS
We jump to Ireland on Sunday for just the one bet but it could be very much worth waiting for.
The basics are that I have always thought a lot of With Thanks and that she will be a Group winner, so to see William Haggas sending her over to Ireland gives me plenty of confidence.
A proper look at her profile does nothing to dampen enthusiasm for her either. Her best form is over this seven furlongs and on heavy ground, meaning she is proven in these particular race conditions while there is a little bit of guesswork involved for the trainers of some of her chief opposition.
She is getting better with every run which is always a good sign, and last time out at Goodwood in October she was only just touched off by the now-retired Onassis in a good Listed race.
She’s ready for this and her draw in stall 14 is not an issue at Naas, given that she’ll have plenty of time after they jump to get herself in position before the turn and she has some very fine help up top to achieve that in the shape of Chris Hayes.