Friday 28 October 2022

Friday 28th & Saturday 28th October 2022: Conquest the King at Newmarket

It’s Charlie Hall Chase weekend at Wetherby, with Bravemansgame fancied to win the big one although he is too short a price to do so.

With the jumps season getting into full swing now, Ascot also hosts the Bateaux London Gold Cup, but there are still plenty of betting opportunities on the Flat, especially at headquarters where we are betting across Friday and Saturday.

Friday 28th October 2022

1.30 Newmarket (Novice Stakes) – MAJESTIC PRIDE

This is a field full of mostly newcomers, so strong money for any runner should be noted.

Having handled heavy ground and 6½ furlongs well on debut, Physique is rightly well fancied to go one better, but the seven furlongs of the Rowley Mile is a different proposition to Newbury and that run was only seven days ago.

On breeding Burdett Road may fancy this first time up, but even more likely is Charlie Appleby’s Majestic Pride who can be backed to small stakes if there is encouragement and if a price of more than 3/1 holds.

He should relish this test and his trainer so consistently sends these types out to perform to a good level on debut. With William Buick in Australia, James Doyle is left to take over.

2.40 Newmarket (Bosra Sham Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – MATILDA PICOTTE

At this stage of their respective careers, it’s impossible to know exactly what level these two-year-old fillies can reach before the end of the year.

Some don’t have form on rain-softened ground though, some don’t look comfortable on it and some aren’t bred for it either.

None of those things are true of the Irish-trained Matilda Picotte who for me has the best form and is fine in the conditions so is a sound bet to take this race, perhaps ahead of Diamond Vega.

3.35 Saint-Cloud (Prix Solitude – Listed Race) – GOLDEN LYRA

William Haggas is sending one horse over to France on Friday and in fact his Golden Lyra could be very good value to pinch the win.

Tres Queen, Daisy Maisy and Queen Trezy have all shown ability, but only to the level Golden Lyra showed on only her second run and seasonal debut at Newbury back in June. She was favourite for the Listed race won by Haskoy in August, and has been no doubt sent here to get the softer ground she craves. 

There is no available betting at the time of writing, though one forecast has her as a 9/2 shot while on another she is 10/1. I expect her to be shorter than that come the off.

3.50 Newmarket (Handicap) – ALLMANKIND

Running on the Flat for the first time since 2019 is the now Dan Skelton-trained Allmankind.

Based on all the information available, most notably how he has improved jumping, we can expect him to be at least 6lbs, maybe many more, ahead of the handicap mark of 86 he has been dropped to on the level. In fact, he reached 90 when running in the Dee Stakes for Michael Bell.

He will be staying on when others are running out of puff in this two-mile contest, while that potential for being well ahead of his mark is not something the others can boast, including second choice Novel Legend.

Saturday 29th October 2022

2.48 Newmarket (Nursery Handicap) – DARTMAN

In this nine-furlong nursery there are a number of seemingly reliable indicators which show is that Forceful Speed, Sir Laurance Graff, Shahbaz, Orchestra and Dawn Vega may be very close at the weights. The one who may yet prove to be the standout however is Dartman.

Brian Meehan’s runner was gelded before his debut and just maybe took his time to get going. After a pretty average debut, he put up a very reasonable performance when third behind Classic over ton the July Course on soft ground back in August.

That run would have earned him a mark in the early 80’s and he will have improved some since then. He gets in here off only 77 having been well beaten on the all-weather last, a run easy to forgive. Back on turf, he could prove to be well handicapped.

3.00 Wetherby (West Yorkshire Hurdle – Grade 2) – PROSCHEMA

Proschema was behind Indefatigable in this race last year but has a big weight turnaround now, while he also has age on his side in that battle.

He also had every chance of beating favourite Sporting John at Cheltenham last season before falling. He’s fit, improving and really should prove to be the best of this bunch.

3.23 Newmarket (Handicap) – KING OF CONQUEST

Godolphin’s six-year-old Ghaly (Saeed bin Suroor) may still be well handicapped, while back on softer ground a good run can be expected from Lawful Command.

The one who may, just may, have tons in hand however is Godolphin’s other runner, the Charlie Appleby-trained King Of Conquest.

After making a very nice debut last August he was sent off favourite to beat the likes of Zechariah and Westover. He wasn’t at his best in the end, finishing third, while things also went wrong in Dubai but he has now been gelded and waited with.

He’s ready to go again and no doubt a minimum target for him will be to reach triple figures, which he’s very capable of, so coming in off 88 is more than a little tempting.

3.58 Newmarket (Montrose Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – DREAM OF LOVE

This could be another winner for the powerful Charlie Appleby yard courtesy of their Shamardal/Galileo cross Dream Of Love.

She made a very pleasing debut when winning here three weeks ago over seven furlongs, this extra 220 yards looking like being right up her street.

She looked a little green that day yet got the job done against some pretty decent yardsticks, reaching a level just a couple of pounds below Dermot Weld’s Keep In Touch and Clive Cox’s Conservationist with clearly more to come.

Friday 21 October 2022

Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd October 2022: Gosden Colt to be Stoic in Futurity

Cheltenham begins its season with the Showcase Meeting on Friday, while Aintree hosts the Old Roan Chase on Sunday. There is still plenty of business to do on the Flat however on what is another Group 1 weekend.

The Vertem Futurity is the big race of the weekend, while it seems that John and Thady Gosden could be in for a very profitable time too.

Friday 21st October 2022

2.35 Newbury (Fillies’ Handicap) – KING’S JOY 

Any money for hat-trick seekers Misty Dancer and Miss Down Under is understandable, however the strongest of this bunch may well be the Gosdens’ King’s Joy.

The Kingman filly has been getting there slowly but surely, showing up well behind Grande Dame earlier in the season as well as at Ascot in the summer, but she reached a new level last time when behind Al Husn at Newmarket.

The ground should be fine for her and she may outclass Picual and the aforementioned last-time-out winners.

3.10 Newbury (Handicap) – FRANTASTIC

Could there be a quick Gosden, Dettori, Oppenheimer, topweight handicap double? I reckon there just might.

Frantastic looked very decent when winning at Newcastle last back end, handling the Tapeta very well and scooting away close home.

He was sent to the Classic Trial in the spring and in August over 1m2f at Newbury, he beat subsequent hurdle winner Admiralty House and the now 84-rated winner Cave Diver.

This 1m5½f trip should be ideal for Cracksman’s full brother and he may be able to stretch away from Tathbeet and Juan Bermudez.

4.05 Doncaster (Handicap) – ALMUHIT

An interesting race over the St Leger trip of 1m6½f, one in which the most likely winners are David Simcock’s four-year-old Traila and theGosdens’ Almuhit.

Their form is very similar and they are rated only 1lb apart, however Almuhit has a year on his rival and was slowly away last time on his first run after a gelding operation. He’ll be much straighter this time no doubt and has plenty more improvement to come over the trip.

4.38 Doncaster (Handicap) – FIRST OFFICER

Last October, a fine maiden at Newmarket was won by Al Mubhir, a winner for last Friday’s column. Beaten only 2¼ lengths that day on debut after a slow start was First Officer who was unfortunately campaigned almost exclusively on fast ground since.

Al Mubhir needed the rain last week and First Officer needed it when bolting up last time out on his first start for Jane Chapple-Hyam.

On private ratings, I made First Officer a 92 horse, while Al Mubhir is now officially rated 97. Either way, it seems First Officer’s current mark of 87 still underestimates his talents greatly and the son of Galileo should enjoy himself in this race.

Saturday 22nd October 2022

1.33 Saint-Cloud (Criterium de Saint-Cloud – Group 1) – ARREST 

Juddmonte are very keen on Arrest, as are John and Thady Gosden, and while the Vertem Futurity was under consideration for him this race is more winnable and they have another colt for the Doncaster race.

Arrest is a big baby and will have improved plenty from his last race, he has strong form and looks as though these conditions will be fine form him as the Frankel’s tend to stay very well.

1.50 Newbury (Horris Hill Stakes – Group 3) – STRIKING STAR

Charlie Appleby’s Striking Star won his maiden at Sandown last month very much despite the soft ground and not because of it. He was blocked in his run that day too and should have been a much more impressive winner visually.

Having been off for over five weeks he will have improved markedly as the yard’s juveniles do, and now the Dubawi/Shamardal cross can show his class and perhaps put himself in the Classic frame for next spring.

Ancestral Land, Grey’s Monument, Lord Of Biscay and Knight may all be very useful.

2.30 Doncaster (Handicap) – ISRAR

It was commented on these pages that the only horse who fit the bill of being that potential Group horse in the London Gold Cup back in May, the type that usually wins the race, was Israr.

He duly did win, and while it hasn’t gone exactly to plan for the John and Thady Gosden runner since, he remains a horse of some promise at this mile-and-a-half trip and he is taken to prove how well handicapped he truly is for the end of the season.

In behind there is more to come from Wandering Rocks no doubt, while Moktasaab remains solid as an each-way proposition.

3.35 Doncaster (Vertem Futurity – Group 1) – EPICTETUS

This could be yet another big race victory on what has turned out to be an important weekend for the Gosden yard.

This year, the Gosdens have had to watch on as Charlie Appleby and William Haggas have truly taken over in the training ranks, while their very public spat with Frankie Dettori was also a low point. Their Epictetus though is a proper Group 1 type and can take this.

On debut the Kingman colt beat Flying Honours by 4½ lengths and he is now rated 110. We knew he’d be a top challenger in the Autumn Stakes but plumped for Silver Knott, which was the correct call just about, and that horse can be another real top-notcher. He’s now rated 115 and is off to the Breeders’ Cup.

That’s the level Epictetus can now achieve, if not more, and his yard must be full of confidence. He does have Auguste Rodin to beat who is second-favourite for the 2000 Guineas and the Derby, but beat him he can.

4.15 Newbury (Handicap) – NATURAL WORLD

While Magisterial could yet be up to much better things and we know the quality of the likes of Mujtaba, Natural World remains of major interest.

Back in the spring he beat stablemate Ottoman Fleet and Lion on debut, two horses now rated 109. He was sent straight to the Derby Trial at Lingfield after that but most likely wants this softer ground and has needed time to truly come to himself. He may now be well handicapped and overpriced.

Friday 7 October 2022

Friday 7th & Saturday 8th October 2022: Naval to Power to Dewhurst Success

You might want to call this the start of the jumps season proper, Chepstow hosting some excellent National Hunt events over the weekend.

We are far from done with the Flat however, with Newmarket’s Future Champions Weekend taking precedence here.

We may be about to see a substandard Fillies’ Mile, at least in behind Commissioning who could be the real deal, while Flying Honours should be too good in the Zetland but is not a backable price.

Friday 7th October 2022

1.50 Newmarket (Cornwallis Stakes – Group 3) – CRISPY CAT

Clearpoint can be forgiven his latest run, while there could be a major return to form for the filly Maylandsea at a nice price.

Keith Dalgleish’s Prince Of Pillo is a strong favourite after his demolition job at Ayr, but going up the Rowley Mile hill it would be no surprise to see unlucky Norfolk Stakes third Crispy Cat come out on top.

The son of Ardad should perhaps have won that day and he’s had very valid excuses in three runs since. His experience could play a big part in this race and the excellent Ryan Moore takes the ride.

4.10 Newmarket (Old Rowley Cup – Heritage Handicap) – FIRST RULER 

Based on current rate of progression Simply Sondheim, who is on an incredible seven-timer, can run well but a lot depends on how he handles faster ground.

Educator will have been put right by his second last week for the King and, based on what he achieved in the spring ahead of the likes of London Gold Cup winner Israr, he should be right in the mix now. Stablemate La Yakel can go well again, but on this ground may have it to do against old rival First Ruler.

First Ruler is the clear standout of Charlie Appleby’s four with Wild Crusade, Al Nafir and Cosmic Desert all admittedly solid, and on faster ground can continue his progress.

5.50 Newmarket (Pride Stakes – Group 3) – CREATIVE FLAIR

Godolphin’s Creative Flair runs her last race in the one and a quarter-mile Pride Stakes. Not only will her team have prepared her a send-off to remember, but this has been her long-term target all year anyway.

Trainer Charlie Appleby said she was basically “punch drunk” having had to chase a suicidal early pace on firm ground in America back in July. She’s much better than that.

On balance, there may not be that much between Ville De Grace and three-year-olds Peripatetic and Shaara who can all challenge for places.

10.16 Keeneland (Alcibiades Stakes – Grade 1) – RAGING SEA

The excellent Chad Brown scratched his once-raced filly Raging Sea from her previous Grade 1 appointment and rerouted her here.

A sloppy, quick track was not thought to be ideal but going over an extended mile at Keeneland looks ideal for the ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 4. This is only her second run, but she’s well drawn, has lots of talent and may stay on best of all.

Saturday 8th October 2022

2.25 Newmarket (Autumn Stakes – Group 3) – SILVER KNOTT

A most fascinating juvenile race and a high class one for sure. Exoplanet could be a big improver as a debut winner for Roger Varian while Holloway Boy has experience at a good level.

The Gosdens’ Epictetus was impressive when winning his sole race to date, though I don’t know why he has been off since then. He is the obvious danger, but he may not be good enough to beat the talented improving Silver Knott.

The easy Solario winner got stuck in the mud when losing out at Doncaster last time, but has otherwise been exemplary and can add this race to his CV before perhaps heading to the Breeders’ Cup.

3.00 Newmarket (Dewhurst Stakes – Group 1) – NAVAL POWER

Ante-post favourite Sakheer had to pull out after scoping dirty on Friday morning but while I love the horse, for what it’s worth I don’t think he’d have won it over seven furlongs.

Juddmonte have a strong hand here with Chaldean and especially Nostrum who now assumes favouritism.

Incredibly, Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t won the Dewhurst since 1986 but Nostrum gives him a terrific chance now after a most taking debut win, as well as his classy yet hard-fought Tattersalls Stakes win over this track and trip.

In Naval Power however, Godolphin and Charlie Appleby may have yet another Dewhurst star. Their 2019 and 2021 winners Pinatubo and Native Trail were obvious two-year-old types, whereas this horse according to the trainer has always looked like a three-year-old.

Being unbeaten so far in four has felt like a bonus to his team and he has never been asked for too much. Apparently, he is ready to put it all together now and a usually circumspect and modest Appleby reckons that nothing will get him off the bridle easily.

He can emulate his sire Teofilo at this stage, but will hopefully go on to have a fine Classic career too. As Appleby says; he will not be wanting for stamina when they hit the rising ground.

4.25 York (Handicap) – WHITEHAVEN

We went for Hughie Morrison’s Whitehaven last week, though he was taken out before racing began. He’s back this week over two miles at a very fair track in York, one that should see the four-year-old return to his best which is something he’s been doing gradually since the summer.

Atacama Desert is an obvious danger, improving all the time, while the likes of Duke Of Verona, Praiano, Carrigillihy and It’s Good To Laugh will all have backers.

5.20 Newmarket (Darley Stakes – Group 3) – ROYAL FLEET

Royal Fleet won ever so easily last time and is still a work in progress. His form to date entitles him to go close anyway, but unlike a number of others in this race we expect him to now run a new career best.

His team already have an eye on a big-money race in Bahrain for him, one for which this event gives him automatic entry so he will be prepped to perfection to get the job done.

Alflaila is classy but may lack the turn of foot Royal Fleet has, while Cadillac, Ottoman Fleet and Finest Sound can all show up well.

10.14 Keeneland (Breeders’ Futurity – Grade 1) – LOGGINS 

This top-notch two-year-old race has been very good in recent times, producing such horses as Essential Quality. The added dimension this year is that, while being a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, it is also run over the very same course and distance.

This year’s renewal is a belter with 16 lining up. Forte is at the top of the market while Lost Ark, Carmel Road and Newgate are all to be watched, but the standout for me is the once-raced Loggins.

Brax Cox’s colt won on debut by a yawning 8½ lengths at Churchill Downs over six and a half furlongs. He is by Ghostzapper, a proper Grade I stallion whose progeny always do better as they get older, he’s well drawn and he looks the potential class in the race.