Friday 26 August 2022

Friday 26th & Saturday 27th August 2022: Derby Contender to Come Good

It’s Celebration Mile day at Goodwood on Saturday.

In the feature race we may see another one of those ‘coming of age’ performances, this time from Mutasaabeq who has strong form and who has long since threatened to challenge in Group 1 company. Don’t be surprised if he ends up at that level in the autumn.

There are also two big Melbourne Cup candidates running on Saturday for those interested. Hoo Ya Mal is vulnerable at long odds-on at Goodwood, while Duais runs in Australia early in the morning.

We aren’t betting in these races, or in the fascinating Beverley Bullet, though we do still have a busy punting weekend beginning at Goodwood on Friday.

Friday 26th August 2022

6.10 Goodwood (Handicap) – OUR JESTER

After five wins on the bounce Mostly Cloudy will be well backed, though he was beaten last time albeit in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

Despite the ability shown by the likely favourite, he may have been just about caught and tagged by the handicapper so he is vulnerable to something that has been undervalued.

One such type is Our Jester and he is the suggestion. His top trainer Hughie Morrison is in great form and, based especially on his spring form, he is particularly well in at the weights if putting it all together.

6.53 Hamilton (Lanark Silver Bell – Heritage Handicap) – CORMIER 

Previously a Class 3 having been reborn once already, the Lanark Silver Bell is now a £100,000 heritage handicap and should be given far more attention.

We are interested, as there is definitely a betting opportunity here which comes in the shape of Cormier.

Hamilton, the stiff track, the ground and the trip should all bring about the best in Brian Ellison’s horse, which should also be a career best given the way he’s been improving on the Flat having run well over hurdles during the last jumps season.

Based on several factors it seems Cormier is likely to be a 95 horse, making him better handicapped than even the four-year-olds in this race and he’s good value too.

Haveyoumissedme, Southern Voyage and Forza Orta are all of interest, while Strawberri and Pride Of Priory will attract attention in the betting market.

Saturday 27th August 2022 

1.50 Goodwood (Prestige Stakes – Group 3) – FAIRY CROSS

Bright Diamond, Fairy Cross, Mottisfont and Queen Olly are the main protagonists in this juvenile fillies’ Group race over seven furlongs.

Fairy Cross is the safest choice, not that we’re forced to have a bet, but we know she has definite ability and some experience to go along with it.

She is a fair price, in fact the favourites may even flip-flop by race time as the money continues to come in for Bright Diamond.

Karl Burke’s horse is interesting after an excellent debut, but Fairy Cross is improving, is still learning having raced freely and is in both the Rockfel and the Fillies’ Mile later in the season.

2.10 Newmarket (Handicap) – ROACH POWER

This is a tight three-year-old handicap over seven furlongs, one in which Wowzers, Spinaround, Space Tracker and Chola Empire can all be considered to have similar chances at the weights.

Roach Power on the other hand may just have that x-factor. He gained a belated first win over an unsuitable five furlongs last time out, he is now very fit, and Tim Easterby never wastes a trip south! Hollie Doyle rides.

3.15 Newmarket (Hopeful Stakes – Listed Race) – DANEH 

This is not a particularly strong bunch for a Listed race at Newmarket, which is why there is a betting opportunity.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Daneh, off for almost a year to the day, was very impressive on debut as a two-year-old, kept good company in three races and was very much heading the right way.

She could just outclass this field if being fully ready first time up with a weight allowance, given that Manaccan, Great Ambassador and Summerghand for example are no great shakes in truth.

3.50 Newmarket (Handicap) – NAHANNI

Charlie Appleby’s Nahanni made great strides between January when he made his debut and June when he contested the Derby.

Much more was expected of him than he gave in the Derby, though that happens, and he has been gelded now.

Although he won the Blue Riband Trial afterwards, Nahanni was most impressive when winning at Leicester on April 1 on softer ground in a race that has worked out very well, one he won very easily too.

He is a classy type who can prove to be very well handicapped now and who will no doubt go back into Group company soon, this 1¾ miles also looking ideal. Derby rider Adam Kirby takes the mount.

Liverpool Knight is interesting, as is Soapy Stevens in what is a tight enough race in behind the selection.

6.05 Windsor (August Stakes – Listed Race) – MAKSUD

There are some very familiar names in the 1m3½f August Stakes, not least Desert Encounter, but the one that ticks the most boxes is Maksud.

One of three 3yo’s in the race he is going the right way, has the right attributes, has a trainer in form (Hughie Morrison) who we’ve mentioned already and has a top jockey on board in Tom Marquand, though he is certainly here to ride Grocer Jack for William Haggas.

9.32 Saratoga (Personal Ensign Stakes – Grade 1) – MALATHAAT

Malathaat has been a star in the States for the Shadwell team, winning last year’s Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes at the top level.

She has had to settle for second place twice this season behind Clairiere, who is likely to be a short-priced favourite in this contest.

The first time in the Ogden Phipps Stakes Malathaat gave her rival 2lbs and was beaten a head, and the second time jockey John Velazquez had to lean down mid-race to adjust a stirrup before coming home 1½ lengths behind.

She is most likely the better filly on balance and has more Grade 1 glory in her. Search Results and Letruska were also considered.

Friday 19 August 2022

Friday 19th & Saturday 20th August 2022: Enter the Dragon on Massive Ebor Weekend

York’s 2022 Ebor Festival has already been fantastic and now it has proven impossible to shorten down our betting list any more for the Friday and Saturday. We have a huge weekend in store.

Friday 19th August 2022

3.00 York (Gimcrack Stakes – Group 2) – NOBLE STYLE 

There are no Group 1 races for the juveniles just yet, but events like this one are often Group 1’s in all but name. This is a fascinating race therefore, one in which Noble Style may outclass his rivals.

He needed the run when winning last time out after a slight setback which forced him to miss his date in the Coventry at Royal Ascot, but his debut was spectacular.

The pace he showed over five furlongs early on was incredible given his breeding and this colt could be anything at this stage.

Marshman was visually spectacular but beat nothing last time, while Royal Scotsman is penalised and was well beaten by Noble Style on debut.

3.35 York (Nunthorpe Stakes – Group 1) – DRAGON SYMBOL 

Not a vintage renewal of this massive £533,000 sprint, at least not on paper, and with that in mind the Nunthorpe could be ripe to be taken out by one at a bigger price.

Though their form is decent, those at the top of the market really haven’t earned their stripes in Group 1 races and that lack of experience could catch them out.

Of those at big prices, Dragon Symbol is rather going under the radar. He’s just four, had a great time as a three-year-old, and with more patient training may well have won what was a stronger renewal of this race last year.

He is getting better all the time with his new trainer and his prep at Hamilton was ideal. He, along with Lazuli and Flotus, is a great each-way betting option.

5.20 York (Handicap) – BAY OF HONOUR

At the end of a brilliant day’s racing there is one more betting opportunity with Bay Of Honour.

Operating should take out the bulk of the betting market, given that he represents Coolmore, the Gosdens, Ryan Moore and is on a hat-trick, while Leuven Power is very interesting after slamming his rivals last time.

Bay Of Honour’s win thirteen days ago was so easy though and the form is solid. He could outclass this field under the no.1 jockey.

Saturday 20th August 2022 

1.50 York (Strensall Stakes – Group 3) – BASHKIROVA

Generally speaking, I really like the form of Mighty Ulysses and Alflaila, however the three-year-olds have a terrible record in this race which makes you wonder about weights etc.

Of the older horses, Bashkirova is penalised for her excellent win at Epsom but taking her form at face value still makes her a top contender in this event, while the speed figures she posted on Derby day where also excellent.

She was punted off the boards at Ascot last time and has now had a break; she looks good enough.

2.05 Sandown (Atalanta Stakes – Group 3) – LAUREL 

In the first of two fascinating Group 3’s at Sandown, we may see a newcomer emerge in the top-level fillies and mares’ mile division.

Potapova is interesting at a big price, though it would have been nice to see her run before Bashkirova to check the Epsom form, while Fonteyn has gone well in Group 1 company.

Grande Dame is a lovely type and can run well again, but within the Gosden stable she is second choice to the once-raced Laurel who appears to have some real star quality.

The daughter of Kingman was spectacular on debut at Newmarket and holds an entry in the Sun Chariot Stakes.

2.25 York (Melrose Handicap) – WILD CRUSADE

Back at York, the Melrose is essentially the Ebor for three-year-olds and as such is hard to solve given how progressive the field is.

Inverness, Caius Chorister, Nusret, Soulcombe and Godolphin’s Al Nafir (second choice) may all be backed, but Wild Crusade is definitely an improving type and represents value.

That Al Nafir is second choice certainly doesn’t harm confidence given that William Buick has chosen our horse over him, one who was short of room when racing here before and who beat Warren Point. Solid.

2.40 Sandown (Solario Stakes – Group 3) – SILVER KNOTT 

In the Solario, Defence Port has a chance and on the book Desert Hero looks the most likely winner.

The latter-named however did well on soft ground and faces a different task this time, while the master of these races Charlie Appleby throws National Stakes entry Silver Knott in who has been very green and has a ton of improvement to come despite being a last time out winner.

3.00 York (City of York Stakes – Group 2) – SACRED

William Haggas’ Sacred is often forced to wait around for these fast-ground seven-furlong races, despite having run very well in Group 1 company at Ascot over six.

She has her conditions here and she is the most solid of this bunch, though Al Suhail, Brad The Brief and Art Power may be fighting for places.

3.35 York (Ebor Handicap) – TRAWLERMAN 

We’ve successfully gone for Trawlerman before and there’s no reason at all to ditch him now.

His first win as a three-year-old marked him out as a future Group horse, he won first time out at four, was given no chance at Ascot and was eased when his chance went at Newmarket.

He predictably came back to form in great style when landing a similar race to this at Glorious Goodwood, he’s not finished yet and in fact was entered in the Lonsdale Cup against Stradivarius and co.

Candleford is an obvious danger, while Okita Soushi, Licence, Earl Of Tyrone and Gaassee are all live contenders in a massive race.

5.20 York (Finale Handicap) – SPECIAL ENVOY

If Trawlerman wins then we’ll be left hoping for a big handicap double for the Gosdens, the second leg being this Special Envoy in the Finale.

The Frankel colt only made his debut this year, really taking the eye at 9/1 in behind Warren Point, which is form that ties him in with the likes of Wild Crusade, Israr and Blue Trail. Ebor runners Aimeric and Soulcombe were also in behind that day.

Since then, Special Envoy has won twice at Windsor, he’s a work in progress and you’d think 98 doesn’t represent his true ability so he could be well in. Phantom Flight is the big danger.

Friday 12 August 2022

Friday 12th & Saturday 13th August 2022: Varian Colt Poetry in Motion in Hungerford Clash

It’s Prix Jacques le Marois weekend over in France as the Group 1 action continues.

Even with Maljoom now out, the race looks certain to be one of the best one-mile contests this year. While State Of Rest is prominent down in trip, I can’t pick between Coroebus and Inspiral so that race is a watching brief.

We do however have a ton of good racing on British shores, as well as the return of Luxembourg in Ireland, with our first port of call being Nottingham on Friday afternoon.

Friday 12th August 2022

3.55 Nottingham (Fillies’ Handicap) – QABILAH 

This is just a run of the mill-looking four-runner fillies’ handicap over a mile and a quarter at Nottingham, but there is definitely some value to be squeezed out of it.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Terra Mitica is an obvious type, the Gosdens’ Shaara undoubtedly has more to give and William Haggas’ Persist will of course have her supporters.

The outsider of the four however is Qabilah and she is the one to be with.

There are several pieces of form, and related form, which suggest that Roger Varian’s Kitten’s Joy filly looks capable now of reaching a mark of 90 or more. If that’s correct, she could easily be the best handicapped filly in the line-up.

Qabilah is also a course and distance winner, just for good measure, and she looks terrific value at 5/1+ to land this race.

7.58 Newmarket (Handicap) – BASHOSH

Should Roger Varian and Sheikh Ahmed be successful for us with Qabilah, then they’ll be looking for a nice double to be completed with Bashosh on Friday.

The son of Dubai made an excellent debut last year, won again afterwards and continued to run very consistently all year.

He’s been gelded now and can resume the improvement he was showing at three, with his current handicap mark of 89 undervaluing him by at least 10lbs in my book, so he must be backed at anything like a decent price in the market.

In behind Chasing Aphrodite (Harry Eustace), Dutch Decoy (Charlie & Mark Johnston) and Bell Rock (Andrew Balding) all have similar place chances.

Saturday 13th August 2022

2.50 Ripon (Great St Wilfrid Handicap) – EMPEROR SPIRIT 

There has been a disappointing turnout for this historic six-furlong sprint handicap this year, though given the heat and prize money issues it isn’t totally surprising.

This time around Blackrod will no doubt have his say for the Bethell yard, while Al Simmo and Snash will be well supported, but the vote ultimately goes to Archie Watson’s Emperor Spirit.

As a four-year-old with his best sprinting days to come he has just the right profile for this, but his form is the key element.

He took the eye when winning at Chelmsford in June after a long break before only just being beaten over this course and distance. He took a step forward when running second at Ascot, and although he didn’t show up well last time it seems he’s been primed for this and he will love the conditions. PJ McDonald takes the ride.

3.00 Newbury (Handicap) – SILENT FILM 

In this seven-furlong handicap we give one more chance to Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old Silent Film, ridden by top man William Buick.

On his old form he’d be badly handicapped off 103, and on his most recent he’d have absolutely no chance at all!

There is more to consider however. He was given a mark of 105 for winning a tough handicap in Bahrain earlier in the year.

There he beat King’s Night by a half-length, now rated 92 (gave away 21lbs), Natural Path by a length who is now rated 86 (gave away 16lbs) and Magical Wish by some 3½ lengths who was given a mark of 100 (receiving 1lb).

At a basic 2lbs per length, he should be rated anywhere between 105-108 you’d say. He raced on the wrong side last time at Newmarket and can be forgiven, he’s only a four-year-old who can and will get better, and so coming in here in conditions he likes off 103 makes him a reasonable shout.

He gets the nod with likely favourite Gisburn seemingly not very far ahead of the handicapper, while Fivethousandtoone might be the other well treated horse in the race having chased home Hungerford contender Run To Freedom last time out.

3.35 Newbury (Hungerford Stakes – Group 2) – DUBAI POET 

Those at the top of the market for this usually classy Group 2 seven-furlong race look vulnerable to me this time around.

So often the Hungerford is like a Group 1 without the title, however this time it looks much more winnable for those still climbing the ladder.

Tiber Flow’s form is decent and somewhat progressive however he doesn’t scream 5/2 favourite to me. In behind in the market is Pogo who is solid, but not getting much better aged 6 while Chindit is another who fits into the ‘consistent, but not improving’ box.

The value in the race therefore is Roger Varian’s Dubai Poet. He ran very well behind Checkandchallenge at Newcastle in April, didn’t appreciate the step up to 1m2f at Chester and was a fine third in the Jersey Stakes last time.

Before all of that he was an easy winner here at Newbury before running just four lengths behind Coroebus in the Autumn Stakes.

Natural improvement takes him to the sort of level that makes him competitive here, so when you consider that he was on the wrong side in the Jersey and had to tack right across we can probably upgrade his form.

Dubai Poet is still learning to go faster after a stark drop in trip which could yet prove to be his making.

11.25 Churchill Downs (Arlington Million – Grade 1) – SANTIN 

There are a number of top-class races taking place over the in the States this weekend, though it’s this one in Kentucky that provides us with the best betting opportunity.

This is what is known as a ‘transplanted’ race, having of course been run at Arlington Park for a long, long time.

Arlington closed after nearly 94 years of action last year, and the Churchill Downs turf track has been getting some stick after it was re-laid, however things appear to have settled down and the home of the Derby can host this historic race.

In it Smooth Like Strait will be popular, as will the former British-trained Set Piece, but it’s Godolphin’s Santin who looks to be the best of this bunch and he is backed.

Bookies haven’t been forthcoming with the odds early on, but a morning line of 3/1 looks very fair.

Thursday 4 August 2022

Friday 5th & Saturday 6th August 2022: Prepare For a Thundershower at Haydock

It’s an interesting weekend, one packed with Group 1 action around the world.

Friday is a day on which there are lots of potentially informative juvenile races, mostly on a watch-only basis. If something is of interest in the markets then take note, with the likes of Local Dynasty very interesting at Newmarket.

We have two to kick us off, before lunging into a busy Saturday.

Friday 5th August 2022 

7.10 Newmarket (Handicap) – LAW OF THE SEA

Giavellotto has been the one to attract early money for this race, but at around evens when beaten fair and square more than once recently he is not a great bet. Praiano and Achnamara are similar at the weights, but the standout is Law Of The Sea.

The Gosden runner could very reasonably be around 5lbs ahead of his handicap mark now, maybe more. He is the value to come back from his break and carry on the improvement he was showing last year when sent into Group 2 company.

10.05 Saratoga (Hall of Fame Stakes – Grade 2) – TIZ THE BOMB

This is a good Grade 2 race to keep an eye on in New York.

Tiz The Bomb, a 7/2 shot on the morning line odds, is back on turf now and he’s one that has good form with 119-rated Modern Games from the Breeders’ Cup.

He had an unsuccessful attempt at the Kentucky Derby after training on Tapeta, but this surface will suit and he can prove to be better than Double Clutch and Ready To Purrform.

Saturday 6th August 2022 

3.00 Haydock (Rose of Lancaster Stakes – Group 3) – ANMAAT

In this classy looking Group 3 event, it could yet be that runaway 9-length Newbury winner Grocer Jack is simply too good.

It has to be said though that the apparent improvement he showed last time was very sudden for a five-year-old who’d already had 16 races, as good as current trainer William Haggas is.

He was visually impressive, but those in behind absolutely did not perform and he is not a guaranteed winner.

Last year’s Wood Ditton winner Peter The Great has got his act together and will be a Group horse, while Passion and Glory is proven at this sort of level.

Even more interesting however is recent John Smith’s Cup winner Anmaat and he is fancied to take the step up to Group 3 company in his stride.

Although achieved in handicaps his progression is stark. A Cambridgeshire runner-up and York winner, he’s getting better and although he has fast ground form, he is a battler who will stay all the way.

3.05 Newmarket (Handicap) – FALLING SHADOW 

Although both Kenzai Warrior and Whitefeathersfall will attract interest this 1¼-mile, class 2 contest, it could rather strangely be fought out by three Godolphin contenders representing three different trainers.

Saeed bin Suroor’s Night Of Luxury has been given a very fair 6lb rise for winning at Epsom and remains in contention for more success, while John & Thady Gosden’s Daramethos is bang in there if 100% after a long break.

The best of the trio for me however is Charlie Appleby’s Falling Shadow.

He was heading very much in the right direction when winning at Newbury in May. He didn’t get the best of runs at Royal Ascot after being gelded, but can resume progression now and should prove to be significantly better than his mark of 92.

3.35 Haydock (Dick Hern Stakes – Listed Race) – THUNDERSHOWER

We have twelve fillies in this race and although the official ratings make it look under-par, many are still improving.

Crenelle and Miss Marble can make challenges, as can the busy Oscula who has been admirable and who is the standard-setter here so far for George Boughey.

The one I like best however is Thundershower. Coming along very nicely indeed, her two wins at Nottingham have shown her to be a filly that needs more of a challenge and she is improving pretty rapidly.

When a Gosden filly is thrown from novice company into a Listed race, they are always good enough on basic ability. Conditions are fine and Thundershower’s chief opposition is much of a muchness when you consider Oscula’s 5lb penalty.

3.40 Newmarket (Sweet Solera Stakes – Group 3) – NOVAKAI 

A competitive Group 3 for the juvenile fillies, one in which there is little to choose between Ivory Madonna, Lady Alara, Lakota Sioux and Mottisfont based on a number of factors.

The one with at least the potential to be better however is first-time-out winner Novakai. Karl Burke’s impressive Doncaster scorer will have been ready to go, but won with plenty in hand and looks up to this.

4.30 Ascot (Shergar Cup Classic – Handicap) – FRANZ STRAUSS 

The Shergar Cup is of very little interest to yours truly in all honesty, though it does bring us one betting opportunity in the shape of John & Thady Gosden’s Franz Strauss.

The Classic is a mile-and-a-half handicap which looks ideal for the three-year-old son of Golden Horn who should appreciate the test.

He beat Eydon at Newcastle, was fourth to Westover in the Classic Trial, was third to Glasgow Stakes winner West Wind Blows at Nottingham and was unsuited by the race when a close second of three at Sandown, all the while improving.

Berkshire Breeze and Hamaki are the main dangers.

11.20 Saratoga (Saratoga Derby – Grade 1) – NATIONS PRIDE

Race 11 at Saratoga on Saturday is the $1,000,000 Saratoga Derby and this is a high-quality event.

The Grade 1 invitational takes place on the firm turf over 1 mile, 1½ furlongs and that’s a good thing for the selection Nations Pride.

Charlie Appelby’s runner was my original Derby fancy this year. He has tons of ability but also tons of pace, so should love this.

He got a bad ride last time under Frankie Dettori when second to Classic Causeway at Belmont. He’s better than that, though the run still represents some of the best form on offer here.

Now that William Buick is back on board, he has another run under his belt and he’s 5 gates to the inner of his old foe, he can prove to be the best of this bunch.

In behind there is little to choose between Grand Sonata, Royal Patronage, Sy Dog and Stone Age while possible favourite Annapolis has to improve a fair bit.