Friday 24 September 2021

Friday 24th & Saturday 25th September 2021: Admiral to Take Command in Cambridgeshire

It’s a Group 1 weekend at headquarters as the stars of the juvenile sprinting divisions strut their stuff in the Cheveley Park and Middle Park Stakes.

2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas also makes his long-anticipated return to the track in the Joel Stakes taking on Benbatl, but none of these races offer us a value bet.

Plenty of others do however, beginning on Friday on the Rowley Mile.

Friday 24th September 2021

1.50 Newmarket (Rosemary Stakes – Listed Race) – WEDDING DANCE

The two Sheikh Ahmed runners Fooraat and Maamora both have solid form chances here, the former perhaps even being sent off as favourite.

There’s little to separate a number of horses in this field in fact, so in a race in which arguably so many are much of a muchness broadly speaking, a chance can be taken on the returning Wedding Dance.

Charlie Appleby has his powerful string in simply superb form. Sent off 100/30 on debut, not too much was expected of Wedding Dance on her juvenile debut and she duly ran just OK in fourth. Much better was to come though.

She improved in lumps last season, securing an easy win second time out before just being denied in Group 3 company at Deauville. On a line through her French rivals and given the trajectory she was on; she is the only filly in the line-up capable of truly reaching a new level with Group 1’s not out of the question eventually.

2.25 Newmarket (Princess Royal Stakes – Group 3) – PENNYMOOR

In this competitive Group 3 event over a mile-and-a-half we can afford to keep stakes to a minimum and take a chance on one at a nice price. The horse in question is Pennymoor, another Godolphin runner this time trained by John and Thady Gosden.

Given her rate of improvement before her recent York disappointment, she’d be a shoo-in now off a mark of 95 in a handicap. It’s interesting therefore that her trainers send her into Group company instead and she’s definitely capable.

She was denied a clear run last time, but before that demolished her novice field at Kempton by more than nine lengths. Quicker turf than she’s run on before should bring the best out of her on breeding, so at double-figure prices he’s worth a dabble.

3.00 Newmarket (Rockfel Stakes – Group 2) – GIRL ON FILM

Strictly on form the once-raced Girl On Film has it all to do in this bona fide 1000 Guineas trial. For a Group 2 however, it’s not the strongest and some may not appreciate the conditions so with plenty expected of her by the Gunthers and trainer Ralph Beckett, Girl On Film is taken to score.

Majestic Glory, Oscula and Jumbly are all solid contenders too, but there was a lot to like about the daughter of Dabirsim’s debut and now with big race jockey Frankie Dettori on board she can fly.

3.45 Haydock (Handicap) – BANDINELLI

With Charlie Appleby’s first and second choice jockeys at Newmarket, it falls to none other than Derby winner Adam Kirby to ride Bandinelli and he could well be a nice priced winner.

Previously, many of us in the industry believed that Dubawi’s progeny got faster as they progressed, however we’ve learned now that they simply get better no matter what their speciality is and that can include staying as proven by the likes of Kemari and Yibir.

With that in mind, this step up to 1¾ miles looks ideal for recent mile-and-a-half winner Bandinelli. That success at Newmarket was achieved on his first run after a gelding operation, the three-year-old no doubt much better and fitter now. Moliwood is next best.

4.10 Newmarket (Godolphin Stakes – Listed Race) – STAR SAFARI

This is another very close and competitive event on paper, but it’s yet another the Appleby and Godolphin team will believe they can win.

Their Star Safari has plenty going for him. Despite being mature and tough as a five-year-old, he still has plenty more to offer having had only ten starts.

Of those 10 runs he’s won four, including at Group 3 level, but he escapes a penalty and should relish this 1½-mile trip on quick going. Alignak, Highland Chief, Fox Tal, Without A Fight and John Leeper can all battle for places.

Saturday 25th September 2021

1.50 Newmarket (Royal Lodge Stakes – Group 2) – COROEBUS

The top three in the market for this race all have Group 1 Vertem Futurity entries and all three are capable, as is Aidan O’Brien’s Howth who is also in the Doncaster showpiece.

Masekela may go off market leader, but mostly due to his form with Native Trail. He won a Listed race last time, but may not be of the class of Coroebus who may keep the Godolphin juggernaut going with a big juvenile win.

The Dubawi colt made a lovely winning debut from Saga over on the July Course and can now kick on up the levels.

2.40 Haydock (Handicap) – ROYAL CRUSADE

The usual types are in this five-furlong dash; Mondammej, Copper Knight and Jawwaal all remaining capable at this level along with Premier Power.

The interesting one however is Royal Crusade for the Boys in Blue. He’s been mostly disappointing for the past year, but is a proven Group horse. With 5lb claimer Adam Farragher now riding confidently, his claim is a genuine one which means Royal Crusade is running off an effective mark of just 98 despite being rated 110 previously.

Now he’s been gelded, he can get back to something like his old form and if he does then his price will look ridiculous.

3.40 Newmarket (Cambridgeshire Handicap) – IRISH ADMIRAL

The big betting race of the day, and one of the biggest of the season, is the Cambridgeshire.

Despite often being called a ‘nine-furlong sprint’ owing to the flat-out nature of the event, it’s so often won by a horse who stays a mile-and-a-quarter and/or is by a sire who saw out a mile as a three-year-old or stayed further when older.

The draw is a factor too, so if 15 isn’t too low then this could finally be Irish Admiral’s big day. A winner last time, he still hasn’t got to the levels Sheikh Ahmed and William Haggas thought he would but he’s now in top form and can kick on.

Anmaat is next on the list, ahead of Spirit Dancer and Chichester.

Friday 17 September 2021

Friday 17th September, Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th September 2021: Huge International Weekend

It’s a very, very busy betting weekend this week. Spread across three days and two continents, we have 13 tips on horses who are all value for what they have achieved and/or can achieve, so spread your stakes out accordingly.

Friday 17th September 2021 

2.10 Ayr (Harry Rosebery Stakes – Listed Race) – PROJECT DANTE

On the second day of Ayr’s fabulous Gold Cup meeting, this Listed juvenile sprint gives us our first betting opportunity in the shape of Bryan Smart’s Project Dante.

Well named, he was a good winner at York first time up where I backed him to score and he’s since run a very good third in the Norfolk at Royal Ascot.

He’s rock-solid, can improve further, and has the speed to see off Canonized, who’s also entered in a Group 3 on Saturday, as well as Geocentric and Peggy Sioux.

2.45 Ayr (Arran Scottish Sprint Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – WHITE LAVENDER

Immediately after the juveniles it’s the turn of the sprinting fillies. There’s little to choose on my book between Operatic, Blackberry, Tweet Tweet and Keep Busy at the weights, but the Irish-trained White Lavender stands out.

A winner on debut, White Lavender showed great speed to run on for second in a 15-runner Listed race last time out and any further improvement in that department would see her burn this field off under Gary Carroll.

2.55 Newbury (Conditions Stakes) – KING OF CONQUEST

There’s been plenty of talk about Ralph Beckett’s Westover in the build-up to this conditions event, but even more impressive on debut was Godolphin’s King Of Conquest and the Vertem Futurity entry can take another step up the ladder here under the title-chasing William Buick.

Conditions should be ideal for the Lope De Vega/Teofilo cross and the mile trip should be perfect for him now. Westover is indeed next on the list, ahead of Bolthole and Zechariah.

3.30 Newbury (Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes – Listed Race) – AL SUHAIL

This is a good quality seven-furlong race despite being at Listed level, and it’s one that Al Suhail can take down.

Charlie Appleby’s runner has always been held in very high regard, he still has Group 2 and Group 1 entries, had an excellent prep for this when winning at Haydock and previously chased home Tilsit in a Group 2 who very nearly went on to land a Group 1 of his own.

Silent Escape cannot be ignored at the weights, D’bai is solid, while Ace Aussie, Albasheer and Baradar may all get competitive at some stage.

Saturday 18th September 2021

2.15 Newbury (World Trophy Stakes – Group 3) – KHAADEM

Last weekend’s Portland Handicap winner Hurricane Ivor is in the field and he may be up to the job, but on paper the half-furlong drop back in trip as well as the prospect of faster ground aren’t in his favour.

King’s Lynn is another who may need just a tad further, while Tis Marvellous will challenge the selection for favouritism.

That selection however is Khaadem who is now showing signs of getting back to his best. When dropped to five furlongs last time he was in his element and an even better performance is in the offing here.

3.25 Newbury (Handicap) – KING LEONIDAS

Top horses no longer need a run after a long break to show their best, and no training yard is more adept at getting such types ready than that of the Gosdens.

Their King Leonidas has 2020 form with several horses that would lead me to believe he could be several pounds well in, and at the early prices quoted we can afford to take a chance on that being the case.

Aramaic is the main danger ahead of Mo’assess.

3.40 Ayr (Ayr Gold Cup – Heritage Handicap) – POPMASTER

In the big betting handicap of the weekend there is a strong hand held by Starman trainer Ed Walker. He trains likely market leader Great Ambassador, but even more appealing is his improving three-year-old Popmaster.

The way in which he won a decent race with the minimum of fuss at Ascot last time suggested he has plenty more to give, he’s officially 2lbs well in and will have the assistance of Hollie Doyle in the saddle. Big chance.

3.50 Newmarket (Fillies’ Handicap) – SAMMARR

Roger Varian’s filly Sammarr hasn’t been seen for over 200 days but that shouldn’t put anyone off. Having made a good winning debut at the end of 2019 there was plenty expected of her before she suffered a setback.

Given natural improvement she should be way better than her mark of 87 now, with another good pointer being that had she not been in the field, I’d have had Tarroob a few pounds clear of the rest and yet it’s Sammarr who carries the owner’s first colours.

4.00 Newbury (Mill Reef Stakes – Group 2) – DHABAB

I backed Dhabab for the Coventry Stakes and thought he was very unlucky in running that day. That gives him some top form, while it was the seven furlongs that got him beaten in the Superlative Stakes in July.

The winner that day was Native Trail, now the highest rated juvenile around, and this track and trip should be perfect for the Gosden horse. Gis A Sub, Gubbass and Fearby are all capable of places.

10.14 Belmont Park (Jockey Club Oaks – Invitational Stakes) – CREATIVE FLAIR

Charlie Appleby is sweeping all before him and he has at least five chances of big wins in North American over the weekend.

I’m staying away from the Canadian International, but in this $700,000 race Creative Flair is value. Now drawn alongside her old rival Higher Truth rather than out wide, she can gain revenge on her after the pair finished second and third in the Saratoga Oaks last month.

10.45 Belmont Park (Jockey Club Derby – Invitational Stakes) – YIBIR

Straight after comes the $1 million Jockey Club Derby and it’s one in which Yibir can make his presence felt.

Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet came into the season with a big reputation, but his form over here didn’t match up to it while his Grade 1 win at Belmont over the summer equally didn’t set hearts racing.

Yibir has achieved more in the Sandown Classic Trial and especially in winning the Great Voltigeur at York and gets the vote again.

Sunday 19th September 2021 

10.06 Woodbine (Natalma Stakes – Grade 1) – WILD BEAUTY

Charlie Appleby has won this before and now sends Sweet Solera runner-up Wild Beauty to represent the yard. This one will be tough, but she has the ability and crucially is good value against the home team.

10.39 Woodbine (Summer Stakes – Grade 1) – ALBAHR 

Albahr is already right up with the best of the home runners on speed figures, he’s thought of as a Group 1 horse and can take what is seen as a key trial for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November in which we may see the son of Dubawi again. Frankie Dettori rides.

Friday 10 September 2021

Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th September 2021: On the Power Trail to Group 1 Wins

This truly is a huge weekend of action. There are Group 1’s in England, France and Ireland including the St Leger at Doncaster while the major trials for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe also take place in Paris.

Hurricane Lane should win the final classic of the season if he’s at his best over the trip although Mojo Star is a danger, while a small but select field take part in the Irish Champion Stakes in which it could be close in the conditions between Poetic Flare and St Mark’s Basilica with Tarnawa in there to add spice.

We go a different way for betting purposes though, beginning with top betting race the Portland Handicap on the St Leger card.

Saturday 11th September 2021 

1.45 Doncaster (Portland Handicap) – BOUNDLESS POWER

This brilliantly competitive 5½-furlong sprint handicap may suit a younger, improving type and there are two of that ilk to concentrate on.

Roger Teal, who won this two years ago with Oxted, fields Whenthedealisdone who fits the profile really well, but the race may yet go the way of Boundless Power for the Mick Appleby yard instead.

Since being gelded and switching from Ireland to England, Boundless Power has done really well but hasn’t been asked for his very best effort yet I would feel. He was blocked repeatedly in his run last time at Windsor when finishing a close fourth and can now produce a career best at juicy odds.

There are also a number of consistent and classy sprinters to look out for in this field, not least Jawwaal, Mondammej and last year’s winner Stone Of Destiny who may be creeping back to a workable handicap mark.

2.10 Leopardstown (Boomerang Mile – Group 2) – FEV ROVER

Another great value bet if nothing else is Richard Fahey’s Fev Rover in the Group 2 Boomerang Mile on Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes card.

Thunder Moon is solid, Maker Of Kings too while the admirable and classy MacSwiney will of course be a danger once again.

The latter-named really does appear to be ground dependent however, while Fev Rover has the form in the book to do some real damage at a big price.

The filly was a Listed and Group 2 winner last year before going off favourite for a Group 1. To back that up, she was a close third in the 1000 Guineas this season before apparently hating the heavy ground in two subsequent runs.

To put her form into context; she was a genuine 1¼-length third to Mother Earth in the Guineas who is a short-priced favourite for a Group 1 on this same card, making her price look a little silly for this race.

3.00 Doncaster (Park Stakes – Group 2) – LANEQASH

The Park Stakes is yet another strong Group 2 over seven furlongs – isn’t it about time in Britain we had at least one Group 1 over this trip for those who are no longer juveniles?

In any event, the race itself should be a belter. Glorious Journey is rock-solid yet again and rates as the main danger to the selection, while the pick’s fellow Shadwell-owned Danyah can also make the frame.

Laneqash however should prove to be the class act. I always thought from his juvenile days he was a Group 1 winner in the making, and expected him before a setback to be either a classic contender or one for the Commonwealth Cup.

Instead, he’s here at an intermediate distance. Over the same trip, he was an excellent staying-on second to Sacred in the Hungerford Stakes after ten months off and assuming the race has sharpened him up rather than bounced him back, he should be too good on this occasion.

5.10 Doncaster (Handicap) – IRISH ADMIRAL

In an unusually strong one-mile handicap to finish a card there are a number of horses to keep an eye on not just for today, but for the near future too.

Cruyff Turn is one, Dance Fever is another, but the two that stand out for me are Godolphin’s Royal Fleet and Sheikh Ahmed’s Irish Admiral.

Three-year-old Royal Fleet heads the market overnight. Charlie Appleby’s runner won his first three races before being turned over last time and is clearly heading in the right direction.

Off a mark of 100 he’s still potentially well handicapped, but he may find it hard to fend off Irish Admiral now they appear to have found the key to the ex-Irish trained runner.

William Haggas sent this four-year-old to York at the start of the season following a successful stable debut, but despite travelling easily the best in the field a couple from home his run faded out late on over the mile-and-a-quarter.

Learning all the time how to ride him and over which trip, he failed a number of times but was very good at Redcar last time and so despite a small rise in the weights another win is very much on the cards soon and hopefully in this race.

Sunday 12th September 2021 

2.55 Curragh (Flying Five Stakes – Group 1) – WINTER POWER

By my reckoning the market may well have called this race right going into the weekend.

Dragon Symbol is a classy and tough young sprinter whose rating of 115 looks just about right, while ahead of him in the betting is last year’s winner and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champ Glass Slippers who can go well once again.

Topping the lot however is recent Nunthorpe Stakes heroine Winter Power and really there is no reason she should not be able to put her best foot forward one more time.

Having won three of her four races this season – or every time she’s run at York – some will say she is course dependent but that’s not true.

This flying filly has also won at Newmarket, Ayr and Redcar with the Curragh holding no fears for her. A repeat of her Nunthorpe and Westow Stakes performances in particular should see her home here for another Group 1 victory.

4.05 Curragh (National Stakes – Group 1) – NATIVE TRAIL

Point Lonsdale of Aidan O’Brien’s yard is not only a short-priced favourite for this race, but he also dominates the early markets for both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby next year and that’s not something to be taken lightly at all.

He’s very good, there’s little doubt about that, and if he wins again here that’s fair enough and he can be called a real juvenile star for sure.

That being said, this race looks sharper than ideal on paper for him and so the step forward many expect may not necessarily be forthcoming.

Native Trail on the other hand really needs this, with Charlie Appleby having done so well in this event with Quorto, Pinatubo and Master Of The Seas in the last three years.

The good looking Superlative Stakes winner is taken to improve enough to trouble the favourite here for Godolphin and true big-race jockey William Buick, with Ebro River no forlorn hope either for fellow raiders Hugo Palmer and James Doyle.

Friday 3 September 2021

Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th September 2021: Time to Get Creative in Sprint Cup

It’s Sprint Cup Day on Saturday, with top-notch July Cup winner Starman looking to confirm his Champion Sprinter title following his successes at York and Newmarket.

On Sunday the very classy Baaeed looks to land his first Group 1 over in France, while around Britain there is some excellent support action across both codes.

We’re off to Haydock first, backing a potentially very classy juvenile to do the business at Listed level.

Saturday 4th September 2021

1.15 Haydock (Ascendant Stakes - Listed Race) - HAFIT

Charlie Appleby, who if he hadn’t before has this season proved exactly why the now world-leading Godolphin operation retains him as their no.1 trainer, has another winning chance here.

So too does William Buick, the rider along with Oisin Murphy who probably have pulled clear from the rest as a duo, with Haafit the young colt set to have him in the winners’ enclosure again.

Haafit made an excellent winning debut on the July Course over seven furlongs last month. He saw the trip out very well up the hill that day, the runner-up has won since and it’s clear there is plenty more to come from him over this distance.

The 2.1 million-guinea purchase by Dubawi should be all the rage near race time in the ring too.

Power Of Beauty looks a strong enough rival, but he chased home the very good Albahr last time of Appleby and Godolphin’s, meaning the Boys in Blue have a very good line on the form and therefore of what’s expected from their runner.

2.20 Haydock (Handicap) - VALLEY FORGE

This is a smallish but high-quality 1m6f handicap for the three-year-olds, one in which likely market leader Valley Forge holds an outstanding winning chance.

Valley Forge, trained by the excellent Andrew Balding for George Strawbridge, is now on a hat-trick after a third, a second, a good win at Ffos Las and an excellent success in the Melrose Handicap over this trip at York.

He’s on a roll alright, remains lightly raced and clearly progressive with undoubtedly at least one more race of this nature in him before the end of the season.

Up against him the chief rivals appear to be Praiano, who is likely to be supported on the day, and Vino Victrix who has a solid form chance but it could be another good day for the reliable and talented David Probert in the saddle.

3.10 Ascot (Lavazza Stakes Handicap) - ALFAADHEL

The upper end of the betting market for this valuable and attractive 1m4f handicap is a very solid one indeed.

Wahraan has won two of his last three for Sir Michael Stoute, Chalk Stream is on a hat-trick for the Queen and William Haggas, and Alfaadhel is another dual winner in 2021 for Roger Varian and Shadwell.

Preference here is for the latter named of that trio. Alfaadhel took the eye when winning his novice race at Chester back in May, and he has gone on to do well since.

He was a good winner at Lingfield on the all-weather, while last time out he was a fine staying-on second at Glorious Goodwood.

The style of both his Chester victory and latest run over a mile and a quarter suggest this trip is fine for him, in fact more improvement could well be forthcoming from a young horse who has certainly not reached his ceiling yet.

Wahraan is naturally respected, while not only Chalk Stream but the solid Irish Legend can also mount major challenges up the straight.

3.30 Haydock (Sprint Cup - Group 1) - CREATIVE FORCE

The betting market for the huge Group 1, six-furlong sprint really revolves around Starman.

Ed Walker’s four-year-old was admittedly very, very good in winning the July Cup at Newmarket and wants the ground reasonably quick, but at these odds he can be taken on.

A touch unlucky in behind Starman at HQ was Creative Force for the all-star Godolphin, Appleby and Buick team. An improving sprinter-cum-seven-furlong type, Creative Force won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in June from a better-fancied stablemate despite the very soft ground and being held rather wide out on the wing.

Only a three-year-old with five wins from 8, the son of Dubawi is getting there all the time and is good value to put it up to the favourite.

Starman remains the main danger after his tough and classy wins in the Duke of York Stakes and July Cup, while Charlie Hills’ Garrus is no forlorn hope at a big price after a fine win recently in a French Group 3.

3.45 Ascot (Handicap) - BAASHIR

This is a high quality seven-furlong race, but it’s one in which the upper end of the market is made up by those in form, yet arguably handicapped just about up to their best.

What makes the selection interesting, Baashir, is that he’s a four-year-old, is lightly raced, is back over his favoured trip and ground and is clearly still improving overall.

I say overall as he has one of those ‘in and out’ sort of profiles. He tends to run to his best, then perform under-par, before running to his best once again next time out.

That’s not the reason for the selection of course, but I’d be more than happy for the pattern to continue now as I’m sure would Charlie Hills, Dane O’Neill and Shadwell.

Up against him Top Secret, Via Serendipity and Documenting are all interesting to varying degrees but will hopefully be playing for places.

Sunday 5th September 2021

4.50 York (Handicap) - DUTY OF CARE

I fancied only one horse on Sunday, and hopefully it’s worth the wait in this decent 1m2f handicap on the Knavesmire. 

Duty Of Care is the one, a rather nice three-year-old son of Kingman for Juddmonte and Sir Michael Stoute who has Richard Kingscote up top.

He won with more in hand than the bare result would suggest at Pontefract last time on the track, and looks sure to give a lot more now with the extra pace a better race and more runners so often brings.

As for rivals; Moktasaab and Pivoine demand obvious respect and are given as the main dangers.