We’ve reached that part of the season during which the worlds of Flat and National Hunt racing collide. There is some fine action at Cheltenham and Aintree over the jumps, while there is Group 1 activity across three countries for us to get stuck into on the level.
Saturday 23rd October 2021
7.10 Moonee Valley (Cox Plate – Group 1) – PROBABEEL
We have an early start on Saturday once again as Australia’s huge $5 million Cox Plate gets the show underway at Moonee Valley.
In an often-tricky contest to handicap, especially given that there are both Northern and Southern Hemisphere-bred horses on show, I’ve taken real and exact ages into account when assessing the runners.
Godolphin’s Anamoe for example, the second-favourite here, gets lumps of weight and comes into the race on the back of a win in the Caulfield Guineas. He’s not yet three years old however and over this trip may find things very tough against the older horses.
Favourite Zaaki was never a Group 1 horse in Europe, a subject always controversial for Australian fans, though he did win well for Annabel Neasham in the Underwood Stakes in September when beating Probabeel.
Probabeel turned the tables the last time they faced off and the son of a former Cox Plate winner has a great chance at the weights to confirm the form at a very nice price.
Verry Elleegant is often exposed these days at the top level despite her past exploits, while Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest has plenty to do and star former French runner Gold Trip is now a non-runner.
1.33 Saint-Cloud (Criterium de Saint-Cloud – Group 1) – GOLDSPUR
Charlie Appleby has had a stunning season and the British champion trainer-elect still has time to land more Group 1 races in France and America before the year is out.
His Goldspur was a very impressive winner on debut at Sandown over a mile on soft ground. That was an excellent staying performance, and the yard attempted to sneak into the Derby for free by winning at Epsom a short time later but the son of Dubawi was withdrawn at the start there.
He then came out over this mile-and-a-quarter trip in the Zetland at Newmarket, fighting on to get the best of a bobbing three-way finish with Unconquerable and Hafit.
He can take another step forward in this race, is proven over the trip and on softer ground and could yet make up into a classic horse for next season. Stone Age, El Bodegon and the aforementioned Unconquerable are probably the main threats.
3.10 Newbury (Radley Stakes – Listed Race) – MISS CAROL ANN
It’s gone heavy at Newbury and that may lead to a few funny results, but there is confidence behind Roger Varian’s Miss Carol Ann.
She was a very good winner of her debut race at Newmarket in September, and the team have been patient with her since then.
That result was achieved on fast ground, but plenty of the better Kingman progeny including Palace Pier, King Of Comedy, Persian King, Roseman and others have gone well on soft ground so there are no real concerns in that regard.
Jumbly has been solid and can go well again, while Eidikos has more to offer too.
3.15 Doncaster (Vertem Futurity Trophy – Group 1) – BAYSIDE BOY
Although the selection of Bayside Boy is based on genuine form factors, we can afford to take a risk anyway at around 4/1 given that Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg is dominating the market and will potentially go off at odds-on.
For his part Luxembourg has done nothing wrong so far. He’s won both of his starts in Ireland, including in a Group 2, but it’s hard to assess how much more there is to come from him.
At a similar level is Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy which makes him a better betting prospect. In the seven-furlong Champagne Stakes he toppled Reach For The Moon, the pair both shaping as though they need further before the season’s out and that’s high-class form.
Despite that, he was thrown into the Dewhurst Stakes in which he ran a blinder to finish a 2½-length third to Native Trail but he can be all the better for this extra furlong. Royal Patronage has done precious little wrong too and could complete the placings.
Sunday 24th October 2021
2.50 Longchamp (Prix Royal-Oak – Group 1) – KEMARI
We’re backing Charlie Appleby, William Buick and Godolphin once again here as there is no end in sight for their huge success at the top level.
Their Kemari was a good winner of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, showing off his staying ability, while he was a little blocked in his run when just losing out by under a length to stable companion Manobo on Arc weekend.
That run was over this same course and 1m7f distance that he tackles here, while it has to be noted that three-year-olds have an excellent recent record in this race leading to thoughts that the weight allowance may be generous.
Mares Valia and Search For A Song are the main dangers, while it would be no surprise to see Scope run a big race.
3.00 Aintree (Old Roan Chase – Grade 2 Handicap) – KILLER CLOWN
We’re having our first proper bet of the National Hunt season at Aintree on Sunday, Emma Lavelle’s Killer Clown looking great value at the early prices to lower the colours of some high-profile rivals.
Those rivals have each chased Shishkin home, Allmankind and Tamaroc Du Mathan, but at the weights they are both vulnerable and there could be a mini shock on the cards.
Killer Clown is a big improver. A winner at Kempton, he’s gone off favourite for a couple of nice races since then including at graded level and so now after a break and a second wind operation, the seven-year-old can continue his sharp progression in conditions he will absolutely relish under jockey Tom Bellamy.