We have another fantastic weekend of flat action coming up right across the racing world.
Goodwood hosts the March Stakes and the all-important Celebration Mile, Beverley stages its most important race of the year (the Bullet), there is Listed action at Newmarket and Windsor hosts the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes.
We have Group 1 action in Australia, while over in the States it’s Travers Day at Saratoga meaning we should get more clues for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
We begin at HQ on Friday before looking forward to the evening meetings at Hamilton and Goodwood.
Friday 27th August 2021
2.55 Newmarket (Handicap) – ZAGATO
Cosmos Raj should prove to be popular here. Coming into the race on a hat-trick, the gelded son of Ifraaj is trained by Yorkshire-based David O’Meara and has James Doyle on board.
There are a number of punting ‘signposts’ then, however the truth is Doyler has been on board for both of those recent wins, which were narrow, and he doesn’t look particularly well in unless there is suddenly plenty more ability is unearthed.
Headingly remains of interest for Mark Johnston as does Marcus Tregoning’s Tasfeeq, but the most fascinating contender is Zagato.
John & Thady Gosden’s runner, still a colt and with plenty of improvement to come, showed when beaten narrowly behind Irish Legend and Siam Fox that a run into the 90’s is within his compass.
He took a novice race easily in June while his last run can be ignored, so off a mark of 85 he looks nicely handicapped.
6.40 Hamilton (Lanark Silver Bell Handicap) – MAHRAJAAN
There are five last time out winners in the Lanark Silver Bell, First Impression being the only horse not at least placed last time out in what looks at a glance to be a competitive field.
As well as John Quinn’s horse, who despite being the odd one out has a good place chance here, Dash Of Spice (Adrian Keatley) and Big Kitten (Mark Johnston) can go well but this looks like a great opportunity on handicap debut for William Haggas’ Mahrajaan.
The Shadwell gelding, by Kitten’s Joy, has done nothing wrong so far. Third on debut behind Wood Ditton winner Peter The Great, he won ever so easily next time over 1¼ miles at Leicester.
Upped to this mile-and-a-half trip at Ripon, he took care of Oscillates by a comfortable and yawning 9½ lengths, a horse who went on to win a handicap next time by well over three lengths.
Paul Hanagan jumps on here, who rode Oscillates in the aforementioned race, and this chap looks to be a minimum of 10lbs well in and potentially over a stone.
6.53 Goodwood (Fillies’ Handicap) – LOLA SHOWGIRL
A reasonable fillies’ handicap over the mile. Stunning Beauty is likely to be all the rage, the horse who was famously left behind when fancied at Royal Ascot before pulling up. Either side of that, she won at Doncaster and finished third at Newmarket so she’s obviously still in good form.
The filly that actually won the Royal Ascot race was Lola Showgirl, her second win in a row, and she can go in once more.
Improving nicely before meeting defeat last time out, she faced a particularly soggy Haydock Park and will appreciate Goodwood and the faster ground much more. Dalanijujo is best of the rest.
Saturday 28th August 2021
1.50 Goodwood (Prestige Stakes – Group 3) – TINDERBOX
The Gosden filly Tinderbox ran second on debut to Value Theory, a good yardstick and in opposition again here, before showing plenty of improvement in her 2½-length win at Kempton Park.
That was done in the style of a good filly and she’s up to this sort of level at a value price for Godolphin and Frankie Dettori.
Value Theory, Hello You, Daneh and Mise En Scene may all be of a similar ability.
2.25 Goodwood (Handicap) – PERSUASION
Charlie Hills’ Persuasion is the classic forgotten horse in many ways, but he clearly has plenty of ability.
He was excellent on debut at two at Goodwood, finished second to the likes of Wichita and Threat in Group company and won in style for this column at 8/1 back in April.
He loves this track and trip and is potentially still well ahead of the handicapper.
Aratus has only been beaten once and has gone up only 4lbs for his latest win, while Al Rufaa is returning after the best part of a year out and may just need the run.
2.45 Newmarket (Hopeful Stakes – Listed Race) – ROYAL CRUSADE
Tabdeed will be a short priced fancy here and he has strong form - fourth and third in Group 3’s, he is six now and not guaranteed to hold his form.
The value is in Royal Crusade. Godolphin have always kept the faith in him. He won on debut here and in a Deauville Group 3, beating Glen Shiel no less.
He’s been in and out this season, but he’s recently gelded and with his mind fully on the job in hand he can carry on moving upwards.
3.35 Goodwood (Celebration Mile – Group 2) – MUTASAABEQ
Very surprisingly, Benbatl runs here instead of at Windsor as he makes an eagerly-awaited return to the track.
I’d have been all over him there, but my feeling is that he may need all of the mile-and-a-quarter trip the Winter Hill Stakes would have offered rather than this sharp mile.
The value then is in Mutasaabeq. His eye-catching performance in a Conditions race in April put him in line for the Guineas, but he didn’t stay in that race.
He was on the wrong side of the track on horrible ground in the Jersey Stakes, but came back with an easy Conditions Stakes win at Haydock last time and he’s ready for this.
He could come of age in Group company, ahead of Benbatl, Perotto and Chindit.