Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2) 1m2f88y
In a race that tactics may be key, CUBANITA (7/2 Bet365) is taken as a confident selection to hit the frame. The Ralph Beckett trained filly was really starting to show what she was all about at the end of last season, and looks sure to be worth following this. The daughter of Selkirk will be suited by the trip and shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the ground, whilst seems to have more scope about her than many of her rivals. On her last start she took the scalp of Sajjhaa who went on to run finely in Meydan (3 wins, culminating in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free), whilst on her penultimate start only found the well regarded Eagles Peak too good. Ralph Beckett has a way with fillies and is in cracking from of late, evidenced by his big Oaks hope Secret Gesture who battered her field in the Lingfield Trial. Cubanita should go well fresh and is taken to win the tactical battle with Jim Crowley aboard. The French raider Dalkala is feared most, but she may need a sterner test of stamina, whilst Starscope is very talented but literally can’t be trusted.
Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2) 1m2f88y
Following the fillies into battle for their key trial is the colts, who line up in the Dante Stakes, a rich source of top 3 year olds. Windhoek has demonstrated his Classic claims already this season and is a tough battler who should run well, whilst Greatwood is a horse with much more potential over middle distances and rates a very big danger. The Irish raiders look the most interesting in my book though, and Aidan O’Brien is looking for another trial winner in Indian Chief, whilst Jim Bolger saddles Trading Leather who was last seen down the field in the Racing Post Trophy. Indian Chief seems to have lots of speed and will appreciate a good pace to run at; he is out of Montjeu and thus has the breeding to have a crack here, but preference is for TRADING LEATHER (6/1 Bet365). The Teofilo colt has been aimed at the Derby for a long while now but is almost the forgotten horse given his stablemates exploits (Dawn Approach). He is another that is ground dependent and will appreciate the drying ground, but looks sure to appreciate the step up in trip and is available at a fair 6/1 with Bet365. Trading Leather ran Battle Of Marengo close on debut, has won twice including in Group 3 company, and can be forgiven for his last run on account of the ground, although he started 3/1 second favourite and was expected to go well. Jim Bolger doesn’t send them over for nothing, so be sure to remember he looks set for a big run at a nice price.
Cubanita WIN @ 7/2 with Bet365
Trading Leather WIN @ 6/1 with Bet365
A small field of five line up to put their Derby credentials on the line in the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield tomorrow, and Mark Duncan tries to point you in direction of the most likely winner!
The Betfred Derby Trial Stakes was downgraded from a Group 3 to a Listed event this year,which came as no surprise with only eight winners going on to achieve victory in the Derby since its first running in 1932. The most recent of those was the Luca Cumani-trained High Rise in 1998. This years race has turned into a five runner tactical affair, and on paper would suggest that the 15 year duck won’t be broken tomorrow. However that’s not to say the five runners are not good quality racehorses in their own right.
Current favourite is Greatwood, trained by the aforementioned Luca Cumani. His form behind Windhoek at Newmarket over 1m2f looks rock solid with Windhoek looking a top quality horse, since winning comfortably off a mark of 104. On that run alone, Greatwood holds a solid chance, and if improving for the additional distance, he could take all the beating.
Second favourite on the tissue is the Aidan O’Brien trained Nevis. He won a weak maiden at Leopardstown, and then raced in the National Stakes at the Curragh in behind Dawn Approach. He never got involved in the that race over seven furlongs, with this longer trip sure to suit. He’s a son of Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, and could easily step up on the National Stakes effort. Aidan O’Brien clearly has his string coming to the boil nicely following a successful Chester May Meeting. At 5/2, he looks short enough to prove whether he can step up on that.
Elidor and Pasaka Boy both look up against it and it would be a massive shock if they took this trial. The final horse in the line-up who certainly deserves a mention is Hughie Morrison-trained Another Cocktail, who is a sister to Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory. His easy victory over 1m4f over C&D was visually impressive, however the quality of the race looks weak.
For me this looks a race for GREATWOOD to lose. He has rock solid form in the book, and with a trainer who knows how to win this race. The early 5/6 on offer has already disappeared, and the value looks to have gone. If he drifts on the day I may have a nibble, but for the sake of value I’ll recommend Greatwood to beat Nevis in the straight forecast!
3.25 Lingfield Betfred Derby Trial Stakes – Greatwood to beat Nevis
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkduncanHRT!
2.15 Chester – BetVictor.com Dee Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f75y
As often is the case in the Dee Stakes, just a small field of 6 go to post for the Group 3 contest. Some of the smaller UK trainers have pitched in this year to take on the might of Ballydoyle, who themselves saddle another 3 year old colt after Ruler Of The World’s taking display on Thursday in the MBNA Chester Vase.
It may not be so much of a surprise, but the Aidan O’Brien trained Magician (3/1 BetVictor) looks another nice sort and should run well. A son of Galileo, Magician is on a recovery mission after bombing out on his last start, finishing 7/7 in Group 3 company at Leopardstown in October 2012. Prior to that he had acquitted himself well enough and took a maiden on heavy ground on his third start. Evidently he has not shown himself to be a top notcher yet, but has all the right entries later in the season, and has to be respected under these conditions.
At the head of the market is the Ed Dunlop trained Contributer (7/4 Bet365). This galloping son of High Chaparral looks a real nice prospect and will take all the beating on the Roodee. Contributer started life in a very hot maiden at Newmarket last July, finishing 6th behind Ghurair and Dundonnell to name but a few. That promise was realized after taking a maiden very easily at Wolverhampton in November, before following up in a conditions event at Newbury in April. That latest performance was quite taking when beating off some fairly lofty rated individuals, proving he is a force to be reckoned with over middle distances. Graham Lee is in the saddle on this Dante Stakes entry (who has also partnered Willie The Whipper previously) and looks sure to be in with a big shout.
For the in-form Fahey stable is Gabrial’s Kaka (8/1 BetVictor) for the Chester regular, Dr Marwan Koukash. He has a course win to his name already after winning on debut here last back end, but is out of Jeremy and not suited by a strongly run middle distance race in my opinion. He has won over 9f but was found wanting at Epsom over 1m2f a few weeks ago and can’t be backed here on that basis. Glacial Age (20/1 SkyBet) looks to be a shade above his station, but you can’t blame Jo Hughes for having a go for some Group glory in a small field – he will need to improve to get involved in this one.
Of the remainder, Holy Warrior and WILLE THE WHIPPER are joint top rated on official figures at 101. The former is an interesting contender having already taken a Listed race in France this year, followed by a decent display in the Group 3 Prix La Force at Longchamp in April. Holy Warrior (8/1 Bet365) will have no issues with the trip but the ground may be a concern if significant rainfall arrives. If he does take his chance, he has broken from the stalls handily before which could suit to assist in getting out to dictate matters here at tightly cornering Chester; Neil Callan is aboard and bids to give Gay Kelleway a big winner on the Roodee. The latter, Willie The Whipper (4/1 BetVictor), arguably has the best form on offer after finishing 2nd to Morandi in the Criterium De Saint-Cloud (1m2f Group 1) in November. He has already won at Listed level and looks like a true stayer in the making. The forecast rain will not harm his chances and he looks to have a great chance with Jamie Spencer aboard. I anticipate that he will be getting going late on, but if fit and ready then should give the favourite most to think about. The only real concern is that trainer Ann Duffield stated after his win at Pontefract that she doesn’t work him at home, thus, fitness needs to be taken on trust after a 181 day break.
To summarise, Holy Warrior looks sure to run a race if taking his chance on the ground an,d may take them along here after breaking smartly. Magician has to be respected but could get out pointed in this battle, whilst the favourite, Contributer looks primed to run a big race. At the prices, Ann Duffield’s Wille The Whipper is worth a bet at 4/1 and may have shown enough already to take this from the favourite. He has a Derby entry, will go in the rain softened ground and is obviously thought of very highly at home. A reverse forecast with the favourite, Contributer, would also be a sensible play.
Recommended Bet – Willie The Whipper WIN @ 4/1 with BetVictor
Bet £25 on Willie The Whipper at 4/1 for a £125 return and get your £25 matched free bet too!
Darren Fleming is back at the Horse Racing Tavern with his preview and tips for Day Two of the Chester May Meeting!
There is Group 3 action at Chester on Thursday in the Stella Artois Huxley Stakes at 2.15 and it looks a tricky race to fathom! The four market leaders are separated by only 4 pounds on official ratings.
Gabrial, the current 11/4 favourite has won over a mile at listed level, and had Highland Knight, another of today’s runners in behind. That is decent form and entitles him to be in mix of things here on the Roodee. Highland Knight would have a great chance based on his run behind Trumpet Major at Sandown, however that was at a mile and he has an extra 2 furlongs to tackle here. Danadana won 3 decent handicaps at around this distance and is worthy of this step up in grade; Luca Cumani has had a few winners recently and I am sure this one will be thereabouts too. Bonfire’s win in the Dante last May ensured that he was second favourite for the Derby. He went on to finish behind easy winner Camelot but did not give his true running at Epsom. He failed to compete with older rivals in the Eclipse and ran well enough over 1m 1f in a Group 3 at the end of the season. Bonfire’s comeback run this season over an inadequate trip will have put him right for this. Dirk Doughtywylie was a very game winner at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster last September. He ran creditably enough at Group 3 level a couple of weeks ago and while he is sure to win races this year, I am not sure it will be this one! Miblish has performed well a couple of times on the all weather but again looks not quite good enough at this level. Rewarding won a handicap at Newmarket a year ago and has put in a few decent efforts since, including a place at Royal Ascot in a Group 3.
As eluded to, this is a fairly open contest but the two I like are Danadana and Bonfire. I find it hard to split them, therefore from a betting angle I’m happy to have them both in a reverse forecast for a nice payout!
Recommended Bet - Bonfire and Danadana (REVERSE FORECAST).
The MBNA Chester Vase at 2.45 offers more Group 3 action later on Day 2. There are only 5 runners but it looks another interesting contest. The Derby value about Ruler Of The World has disappeared after he was put up at 33-1 by Pricewise on Tuesday; he is now just 20-1 for the big race at Epsom in June. The Aidan O’Brien charge is 7-4 (PaddyPower) to win this and with any unexposed horse from the Ballydoyle team, he could be absolutely anything! Havana Beat was a close 4th behind Windhoek in a valuable sales race at Newmarket. The winner followed up impressively at Listed level and that strict line of form suggests he may be competitive here.
Feel Like Dancing is another who comes into the ‘could be anything’ category having won a maiden at Newbury recently. With Gosden and Buick behind him, who knows what this Galileo/Darshaan cross could deliver over middle distances.
Richard Fahey won this last year and his horse Gabrial’s Kaka is a rare runner at the course for Dr Marwan Khokash (only joking sir!). He does not stand out as an obvious form choice though he did finish well clear of the 5th runner here, Mister Impatience when last seen at Epsom. Course form around Chester does count for something however; he seemed to like the bends when making light work of his maiden field here last September.
A small field of unexposed horses around the tight turns of Chester makes this a tough one to call, but 7-4 about Ruler Of The World may look a huge price 5 minutes after the race. I know it is not very original but he would get my vote as Aidan has won this race a couple of times recently.
Recommended Bet - Ruler Of The World (WIN @ 7/4 with Betfair)
Having looked through the rest of the card, I feel obliged to point out an interesting one in the 4.25 in the shape of Your Pal Tal for Tommy Stack and Kieren Fallon. He has been very prominent in his races so far and is well drawn in stall 1 which is perfect for Chester. He is a very interesting runner here having done the majority of his racing on the AW at Dundal and may just steal a nice lead coming into the home straight and with a bit of luck keep the others at bay. Your Pal Tal must surely be worth an each way bet and if you can find a bookie who will pay four places then even better!
Recommended Bet - Your Pal Tal (EACH-WAY @ 8/1 with BetVictor)
Follow Darren on Twitter @papafleming!
Open an account with BetVictor and place a bet and BetVictor will match your bet with a free bet up to £25!
Powered & Produced by:
Open a new account and bet £25 to get a free £25 bet.
Chester’s May Meeting generally brings out the big guns as the flat season gets into full swing, and with trials for Epsom and Ascot on show, there are plenty of pointers around, as well as the terrific spectacle that is The Chester Cup, writes Jack Milner. This year’s renewal has brought out a stellar field, with Ireland’s raiding party this year including runners from the Willie Mullins, Dermot Weld and Aidan O’ Brien respectively. Donald McCain has won the last two with Overturn and Ile De Re, who will likely have ground too quick for his liking, similarly Thimaar, who has been novice hurdling with the likes of Tominator, Theology, Suraj and Champion Hurdle third Countrywide Flame. Marvan Koukash is renowned for having winners around Chester and he has four runners, but none really appeal that strongly, although a market move would be significant. The ground should be rock hard, and the way Olympiad won a two mile handicap at York last summer suggested he had a lot of potential. He has a good record fresh and the stable are in cracking form.
Elsewhere on the card, Limegrove was impressive in defeat on Saturday when in behind a good sort for the Richard Hannon team and it could be rather significant that the filly is turned out again rather quickly. The form of her previous maidens looks rather smart and she should run a good race, providing she can overcome a tricky wide draw.
The Cheshire Oaks provided a 50/1 shock last year when Aidan O’ Brien’s Betterbetterbetter was done on the line by Good Morning Star, and there is another strong Irish raider in Salhooda for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. She is bred to excel over a longer trip at three, and her two year old form saw her beating some 100 rated horses, and subsequent Group 3 winner Rehn’s Nest. Premium and The Lark are promising maidens with striking pedigree’s who look to be the strongest competition to the Irish filly.
In the Conditions Stakes, Jwala has to be a bet getting weight all round from the field, given her last piece of form from last year, running Sole Power to a couple of lengths at Doncaster. She will be stripped fitter from her reappearance at Bath, and is likely to have ground to suit. Well worth a punt.
1.45 Chester – Limegrove
2.15 Chester – Salhooda
2.45 Chester – Olympiad (Nap)
4.25 Chester – Jwala
Follow Jack on Twitter @JJMSports!
Bet £25 on Olympiad at 12/1 for a £300 return and get your £25 matched free bet too!
Mark Duncan is back with his preview and tips for the Stanjames.com Chester Cup on Wednesday, which looks set to be a good quality renewal.
The STANJAMES.COM CHESTER CUP (Heritage Handicap) is run over 2 miles 2 furlongs at the charismatic Chester racecourse. It’s always a fascinating race as it attracts the top hunt and flat racing stables which can make it an interesting puzzle to solve. Donald McCain has dominated the past two years, with Ile De Re beating 2011 winner Overturn in a one-two most recently. Donald McCain looks to hold a good chance to land the hat-trick with Ile De Re bidding to retain his crown. However the ground looks to be against him this year, as he’s much better on soft or heavy going. He looks short at 8/1.
There are a few other horses in the line-up that certainly catch the eye – Justification for the Aidan O’Brien yard is likely to be bang there if taking his place. With Ryan Moore booked to ride and Group 1 entries in the Coronation Cup and Ascot Gold Cup penciled in, O’Brien clearly thinks a lot of this son of Montjeu. He looks plenty short enough in the market at 7/1 for what he’s achieved though.
Countrywide Flame is the current 6/1 favourite, and based on the form book, he should take all the beating. He stepped up on all form last season over hurdles, and if reproducing his four and a half length defeat to Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle, he could prove to be the handicap blot of the season off 92. He likes the course (1 win from 1 run) which is always beneficial around the tight bends of Chester; You know he’ll stay which is more than others in the race, and trainer John Quinn has a solid 21% strike rate with his runners at the track (7 wins from 33 runners). Concerns? Well the forecast going of good to firm is a worry – he’s not won on ground better than good to soft. The draw is always a huge obstacle at Chester and can often ruin a horses chance before the race start, so must be taken into consideration when backing at this stage, and finally the long season he’s already had performing at the highest level must be a concern. Despite all of those negatives, I’m still confident of a good showing and at an each way backable price of 6/1 (4 places , ¼ odds), I would not put anyone off having a bet at that price.
Of the other dangers in the field, Simenon and Montaser will be sure to run their race, whilst Olympiad was subject of strong support prior to the Cesarewitch last season, but he failed to shine and is still open to plenty of improvement over this staying trip under a master trainer. I expect him to go off shorter than the 10/1 currently available.
However I will be putting up another selection for the race at bigger odds as a value call. The David Pipe-trained Investissement is currently trading at 25/1 with the sponsor Stan James, and there’s a few reasons why I think he’s been lined up for this race for a while. He was a decent enough juvenile in France, before moving to Evan Williams yard in 2010. He disappointed when pitched into top company for two hurdle runs at Cheltenham, before moving back to the flat with John Gosden. He apparently had breathing problems and also picked up a broken pelvis for his troubles. He then finally showed his quality over staying trips when eventually placing third in the 2011 York Ebor for John Gosden, good enough to have an entry for the Irish St Leger at one stage. He unfortunately picked up another injury after that excellent Ebor run, and after returning to the Pipe stable, straight away there were concerns he wasn’t taking to the hurdling game again. This was proven by three sub-standard runs over hurdles in weak races. It’s no surprise to see David Pipe reverting back to the flat to try and get the best out of him. He runs off a 2lb lower mark than his Ebor third and he gets his preferred good to firm ground.
If there’s a trainer who can ready his horses for the big handicaps, it’s David Pipe. He won the race three years ago with Mamlook, who was a much better horse over hurdles than Investissement, but Mamlook won the Chester Heritage Handicap race off the back of two average runs (beaten 15 and 27 lengths). Investissement comes into the race off the back of three poor runs. He has the useful Willy Twiston-Davies taking off another 5lbs, which means he races off a fly-weight of 8 stone 7lbs. He does have a lay-off to overcome, but he defied a lengthy break to win a Goodwood handicap on his first start for John Gosden. Investissement has clearly had his problems and is difficult to get right, but he looks lined up for a punt for the Pipe yard, and I think the 25/1 will evaporate in the coming days. For the multi-lingual amongst you, Investissement translates to ‘Investment’ in French. This looks like a good Investissement opportunity.
Chester Heritage Cup – Investissement 25/1 EW (Bet with Stan James, 4 places ¼ odds)
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkduncanHRT!
Il De Re wins 2012 Chester Cup www.telegraph.co.uk
David Pipe www.guardian.co.uk
Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes, 2.35pm 5f
At the top of the market, Sole Power (9/2 Bet365) is an obvious danger to all and has the class to win this. He is match fit after a good stint at Meydan, but now a 6 year old he is becoming harder to win with. Spirit Quartz is another with obvious ability and runs for the race sponsors (alongside two others that include Pearl Secret), but I feel he is often seen in better light on ground with a tad more juice in it than the good to firm at Newmarket today. At 15/2 he is not a bad bet and could go close, but is overlooked in this as Sole Power should have his measure.
For William Haggas, running in the Hamdan Al Maktoum colours is Heerat, a rapidly improving son of Dark Angel. Fast ground is certainly his bag and he looks a horse that could be going places this term. After a couple of quick fire wins at the back end of last season, he carried on in that vein when demolishing a handicap field at Newbury in April. That performance was impressive, but he still has something to find to make the transition to Group company. Keep a close eye on Heerat, but perhaps leave him for today from a betting perspective.
The horse I’ve settled on to grab the headlines in the Palace House Stakes is PEARL SECRET. Still inexperienced, this strapping chestnut colt had been mopping all before him after careful handling by his trainer in his first two seasons. The son of Compton Place was found out on his only start in Group 1 company when tackling the Nunthorpe Stakes on his last start in August 2012, but he was stopped in his run that day so the bare form is nothing to go by. Back on fast ground and another year under his belt, this colt could be going places this season and I really rate his chances of taking this at a fair price of 11/2 with Bet365. Sole Power rates as the chief danger to the selection however, and can battle it out up the Rowley Mile.
If you’re looking for an each-way bet to keep things interesting, look no further than BUNGLE INTHEJUNGLE. The Mick Channon charge is an out an out 5 furlong horse in my book and will love blasting out from stall 2 on this fast ground. He has had a run this season already, is open to bags of improvement and gets a handy weight allowance as he is still only a 3 year old. The market principles will be coming for him in the closing stages, but he ran over 6f last time out here at Newmrket, and should give his running all the way home. Bungle Inthejungle was mixing it with some nice horses last year, and should progress into a nice sprinter this season, much like his relatives Waveband and Group Therapy did. At 16/1 with Bet365 he is sure to give you a run for your money, get on with Bet365 who are paying 4 places in the Palace House Stakes.
BET365 ARE PAYING 4 PLACES ON THE PALACE HOUSE STAKES – SIGN UP NOW!
Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes, 3.10pm 1m4f
Just a small field go to post for this Group 2 contest, which in itself is a pointer to my idea of the winner. Tactically astute, previous winner of the race, highest rated and a nice jockey booking means look no further than DANDINO. Now in the capable hands of Marco Botti, Dandino looks sure to give his rivals a lot to think about and has a good chance of landing this at 2/1 with Bet365. The 6 year old son of Dansili is made for good ground and 1m4f, he knows his way round Newmarket and may have too much experience to fend off Noble Mission and Universal, the two new kids on the block.
2000 Guineas, Goodwood and Thirsk
If you’re not sure where to look in the 2000 Guineas at 3.50pm, pop back to the Home page and check out my 2000 Guineas Preview and Tips from earlier in the week. Away from Newmarket, it is a busy day of racing, including good cards at Doncaster, Goodwood and Thirsk. I’ve singled out two further runners that may be of interest today, as well they might be for the remainder of the season.
4.05 Goodwood – Sentaril at 5/2 with Bet365
5.10 Thirsk – Renew at 4/1 with Ladbrokes
QIPCO 2000 Guineas Stakes (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo) 1 Mile
Well after a National Hunt enforced hibernation, Alan Hughes is back in the Horse Racing Tavern to give his inaugural 2013 flat season preview. The focus this week is at Newmarket, racing HQ, and home to many a doping scandal in recent weeks. Nevertheless, we’re on the Rowley Mile to find the next Classic winner. The 2000 Guineas, underway at 3.50pm on Saturday, is a brilliant race for purists and is always targeted by the big trainers and breeding operations. Many a blueblood has passed the winning post in this race and normally go on to bigger and better things.
Before I discuss my shortlist of candidates to land the spoils, it normally pays to check the stats for this race before getting embroiled in the form.
- The last 16 winners finished in the places (1st, 2nd or 3rd) last time out, and 13 of them won last time out (Henrythenavigator, Cockney Rebel and King’s Best all placed in a Group race on their last start).
- Horse’s that have been beaten as a 3 year old are normally worth overlooking, unless they weren’t beaten far (as was the case with Zafonic in 1993, and Kings Best in 2000 who were both beaten half a length or less and went on to win the 2000 Guineas).
- It pays to stick with a lightly raced horse with plenty of improvement left in them – no winner has raced more than 5 times prior to taking the 2000 Guineas (66 have tried although French Fifteen went almighty close last year but was mugged by Camelot!).
- 15 of the last 26 horses to win either the 1000 or 2000 Guineas had prior experience at Newmarket – 13 of which had already posted a course win.
- For the pedigree buffs out there (just me then?), horses by a sire with a stamina index below 8.0f normally struggle to get home in the 2000 Guineas. You need a stamina influence as well as class to get up the Rowley Mile.
On the basis of the trends outlined above, we can get rid of Correspondent, Cristoforo Colombo and Leitir Mor as they didn’t place last time out, whilst Dont Bother Me and Glory Awaits could only place in a Listed race so are also overlooked. Kyllachy Rise is yet to win and ran in a maiden last time out – he can’t be good enough for this and is also dropped. Moohaajim was beaten 1 3/4 lengths into 3rd in the Greenham Stakes and is therefore also dropped (he looks more of a sprinter and the step up in trip doesn’t seem sure to suit). By sticking to the 5 run rule, Dawn Approach has to go (6 runs, sorry favourite backers), shortly followed by George Vancouver (7 runs) and Lines Of Battle (6 runs). And now to the stamina index… Garswood is out of Dutch Art, a prolific sprinter with an index of just 7.1f so he has to go, as is Van Der Neer, who follows suit back to the horse box.
And then there were 2 – perhaps a little hasty in getting rid of some of the other market fancies, but the stats rarely lie so it would be no surprise to see either Mars or Toronado take all the beating on Saturday at Newmarket.
MARS, trained by Aidan O’Brien, is a once raced son of Galileo. He won first time out in July 2012 when cantering all over his rivals in a 7f Dundalk maiden. His trainer was impressed with him that day and gave the impression that he needs good ground. He is nicely bred (a Galileo cross with a Danehill mare – which has brought about so much success in the big races before e.g. Frankel, Golden Lilac, Maybe, Roderic O’Connor, Teofilo) without his siblings being serious horse’s (his sister Nayarra was a 2 year old Group 1 winner in Italy but the rest were average in comparison). His dam was a very handy sprinter and was related to some other fast horses including Invincible Spirit and Zodiac. Mars is obviously not short of speed and will inherit sufficient stamina from his sire to meet the Newmarket test (his trainer also seems to be lining him up for a Derby tilt, the Irish equivalent of which he has won for the last 7 years, including with Camelot in 2012 who also won the 2000 Guineas en route).
In terms of negatives, Mars has been off the track for 292 days and has never raced on turf, or on an undulating track such as Newmarket. Support arrived for Mars in the betting ring this week as he was pushed in to just 8/1 with Ladbrokes, but can be backed at 12/1 with PaddyPower. On the basis that Ladbrokes normally know which of the Ballydoyle raiders are expected to fire (Ladbrokes were noticeably short on Camelot in the lead up to the 2012 renewal), they are ducking for cover at 8/1 (6/1 earlier in the week) and so an each way bet at 12/1 with PaddyPower seems sensible. I honestly can’t say what he’ll do come Saturday, but if he doesn’t ruin his chance by being too green, then we may see him outrun his double figure price and hit the frame. Regardless of the result, with experience on his side, he’ll be going on to greater things this season.
TORONADO has been the horse in the headlines since his taking display in the Craven Stakes over course and distance here in April. The son of High Chaparral is trained by Richard Hannon who normally knows when he has a good one on his hands and has always made good noises about this charge. The front running colt has an unblemished 4/4 record, and looked very well in himself when beating off a trial field (that included Dundonnell) in a quick time when carrying a 3lb penalty. The Craven is a decent guide to the main event but not since Haafhd (2004) has a horse won the Craven and followed up in the 2000 Guineas (2009 winner Delegator finished 2nd behind Sea The Stars, and Native Khan finished third behind Frankel). Toronado is not fashionably bred by any means but he obviously has the speed and stamina for this test and is fancied to have a crack at the Derby later in the year. He is versatile in terms of race tactics and has plenty of gears, whilst being proven on the Newmarket dips is helpful.
He goes into the race with a massive chance and has to rate as the chief danger to the favourite, Dawn Approach (11/8 with PaddyPower). In terms of a win bet, Toronado has been backed in from 4/1 after his Craven success to 9/4 (Bet365, William Hill and PaddyPower), which in itself doesn’t give much room for manoeuvre. I’d happily take him against the favourite so perhaps try and find a match bet come the day of the race, or get stuck in at 9/4 as you’ll certainly get a run for your money.
Cracking racing on a Wednesday, and it’s a pity that I have to spend the day looking for an apartment in the south of Spain, writes Jack Milner. As sad as it sounds, I would much prefer to spend the day at Cheltenham, Ascot or Pontefract. Not often will Ponty be thrown into the same league as the other two, but hey ho!
Cheltenham has its annual Hunter Chaser Card, and people who know their stuff will be able to make a few quid on that, but it’s not my sphere, and I won’t be backing or watching any of the action. For people reading this, a couple of people on Twitter will be able to offer more assistance – @Quevega and @Garethtopham who write the previews for such races.
Sticking to Pontefract, looking at their previous card that local trainers thrive, with winners for the Ryan, Johnston, Ford and O’ Meara yards respectively. Richard Fahey, Brian Ellison and Graham Swinbank stables have all been in good form and their runners warrant maximum respect.
A lot of the usual suspects in the 10 furlong maiden, but a stand out entry is Remote; for John Gosden and Khalid Abdullah, an exceptionally well bred three year old colt making his debut. He will have to be on top of his game going against rivals Boite and Marsh Dragon who look to have the pick of the form, but on pedigree, he could possibly be very smart indeed.
As mentioned, the Swinbank yard is in good fettle, and recent maiden winner Eutropius is thrown into a handicap off a mark of 68. He gives weight to a lot of tough seasoned rivals, but he remains open to plenty of improvement, being a four year old with two starts to his name. Blue Maisey went close over course and distance last time at a big price, and could be the danger, as could Alluring Star for the Easterby’s.
There’s a cracking fillies handicaps, with a mixtures of arguably well handicapped sorts, with Centred and Star Lahib being very well bred sorts, and Heading North going for the all-conquering Hannon team, but the most interesting runner in Abilene for Luca Cumani. To win a fillies maiden on debut for that yard, she must be half decent, and beat a decent horse of Charlie Hills’ in the process. She could be well on the road to black type, and a mark of 87 could see the handicapper give her a chance.
The final leg of the Lucky 15 will be hopefully brought up with Theodore Gericault, who was laboured and green when winning his maiden at Lingfield, but will be suited with the longer trip in the 10 furlong handicap. The form of his debut win has worked out excellently, behind 84 and 104 rated types, and plenty of other good ones in behind. Eric The Grey, Gioia Da Vita, Kuantan One and Buckstay are all relatively unexposed rivals, but should be up against it, the Sir Michael Stoute horse looks to have up to a stone in hand. We hope.
4.30 Theodore Gericault
Follow Jack on Twitter @JJMSports!
Darren Fleming previews the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on Wednesday, and he fancies a value bet at 11/2 to take home the spoils!
The feature on Wednesday at Ascot is the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes over 2 miles.
The ante-post favourite is the Queen’s horse Estimate, who having captured the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot last summer went on to finish 3rd behind Henry Cecil’s Wild Coco at Group 3 level at Goodwood and Group 2 level in the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster. With no Wild Coco to worry about this time, she looks sure to be involved in the finish at these weights, running off just 8-9.
Sir Graham Wade put together a sequence of impressive displays towards the end of last season with Kieren Fallon aboard and the two are reunited again here. He should be primed and ready after a run at Nottingham 3 weeks ago and may still have improvement in him, although others appear to be better treated on official ratings.
Steps to Freedom was competing with the best novices in the country over hurdles a year ago and was behind 2011 Dewhurst winner Parish Hall on his reappearance over 1m 2f at the Curragh. This extra distance looks sure to suit and if the going is not too soft, he must have a shout. The booking of Richard Hughes has to be a big positive.
Asker Tau won this 2 years ago and has performed with credit in a number of leading staying races in his time, but at the age of 8 and with just that one win since September 2009 he is reluctantly opposed. Caucus was a winner at Newmarket and has the dynamic duo of Buick and Gosden in his corner, however a little improvement is needed on what he has achieved so far to figure here.
Earth Amber finished in front of Sir Graham Wade and Handazan at Nottingham recently and having champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson in his corner it would be foolish to rule her out entirely.
Buckland has been a credit to connections since winning off 70 at Kempton in February. His current mark is 94 – however some of the leading fancies are rated around 110 so there is a lot more improvement required to be competitive here. Tres Rock Danon is a little bit of an unknown quantity. He has been running in group races in France and on some of those runs he has an each way chance.
In summary, the focus should be on Steps to Freedom , Estimate and Caucus to fight out the finish and that is the order I expect them to finish in!
At the prices, I will be backing Steps to Freedom at 11-2. Fingers crossed that he gets us off to a flyer this season.
Ascot Sagaro Stakes - Steps to Freedom 11/2 Bet with Paddy Power
Follow Darren on Twitter @papafleming!