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
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!
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.
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Alan Hughes turns his attention to the main event on Saturday at Haydock Park. It is the Betfred Sprint Cup from the Lancashire course, and there is a great field lined up for Group 1 glory. Preceding that is another tasty listed contest in the form of the Betfred Superior Mile. We’re in search of winners on what promises to be a great day’s racing up and down the country…
2.50 Celebrating 45 Years Of Betfred Superior Mile (Listed) 1 Mile
This race has cut up quite a bit since the first entries came in, but the two I had my eye on earlier this week remain, which must be a good sign. Boom And Bust, Fulbright and Kingsdesire must be respected, but for me this can go to either Thistle Bird (3/1 Bet365) or Gabrial (4/1 PaddyPower).
The former is from the inform Roger Charlton yard and comes from the Rothschild Family, a well known and committed supporter of British racing. Thistle Bird is a 4 year old daughter of Selkirk who is still relatively lightly raced. After a relatively slow starting career, she has progressed markedly with age, culminating with two listed wins this term, followed by a narrow defeat in the Group 2 Betfair Celebration Mile at Goodwood. That was undoubtedly her best performance to date, with the very taleneted Chachamaidee and Trumpet Major in behind. She hit the front that day and was only cut down late on so it would be no surprise to see her go on from that performance and lay down a serious challenge at Haydock. This filly had was being prepped at the Nassau Stakes after her last win but defected to the Celebration Mile instead, but it says something about her lofty home work. She is known as a bit of a monkey and wears the headgear again. James Doyle is in the plate and the ground should suit so expect a big run from this progressive filly.Gabrial, trained by Richard Fahey, is in danger of becoming a nearly horse after showing some nice form without really delivering when it matters. Fifth in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and a third place finish behind Frankel in The Sussex Stakes says it all really, a huge talent. Those promising runs were somewhat tarnished when finishing just third behind Hunter’s Light in the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes here at Haydock in August. Gabrial was up in trip that day to 1m2f, which on the face of it looked justified, but, he never really looked like getting on terms and pulled too hard in the early stages. Back down to a mile in a race that looks winnable, he also ranks very highly. His tendency to pull hard and hang in the closing stages is worrying, but, if he is to win a pattern race, this is as good an opportunity as he is likely to get. His performance here at Haydock was against horses rated 112,110,110 after all, so this marginally step down in class could work the oracle.
This looks a straight shoot out in my book and a race I can’t wait to watch. The value is marginally with Gabrial (4/1 PaddyPower), so I’ll stick with him nd hope he can land this one against the improving filly Thistle Bird. The reverse forecast is a must.
3.25 Betfred Sprint Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1) 6f
Some of this seasons principal sprinters are back for another round of fast and furious action in the Betfred Sprint Cup. The big sprint races this term have seen Ortensia most recently win the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, preceded by Mayson cutting through the mud in the July Stakes at Newmarket, and, most certainly not least, Australian wonder mare Black Caviar in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
Ortensia is back again for another big pot, accompanied by a whole host of challengers. Bated Breath comes into this in search of his first Group 1, along with Society Rock who is due a big one. One of the top milers of recent years, Strong Suit, also takes his chance down in trip.
We’ll start at the head of the market with Australian sprint star, Ortensia (11/4 William Hill) . She has won two on the bounce here in Britain after not really firing at Royal Ascot or Newmarket on heavy ground. Before that she won the big sprint race at the Dubai Carnival in Meydan, and comes here with a favourite chance. Just getting up last time out in the Nunthorpe, the step up to 6f should suit. William Buick is in the plate which is huge positive but drawn 15 of 15 is not particularly helpful. Bated Breath (10/3 PaddyPower) finished 2nd in this last year and is back for another crack. The son of Dansili finished 6th behind Ortensia last time
out, prior to that being narrowly beaten by Little Bridge in the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. There is nothing to suggest he can turn the form round with the Aussie mare, but goes well here at Haydock and conditions will suit. Strong Suit (6/1 Ladbrokes) from the Hannon yard is interesting down in trip and is top rated on official figures (120). In all honesty, I love backing this horse in the right race at 1mile and 7 furlongs, but, in this hot company I just can’t see him taking the winner’s purse. It would be no surprise to see him flash home late on, but bar another Richard Hughes masterclass in the plate, he shouldn’t be winning this. For the value call against the field, Society Rock looks a cracking bet at 11/1 with Bet365. James Fanshawe will have this talented son of Rock Of Gibraltor ready for this after non firing in the mud behind Mayson last time out. He was slowly away at Ascot and flew home late to finish 6th behind Black Caviar, but ranks a serious threat on fast ground. Society Rock was narrowly beaten by Bated Breath last term here at Haydock, but at 11/1 he represents some value against the field. Oh and did I mention Kieren Fallon has been booked? Plus points again.
Ortensia is the one to beat in what promises to be a great race. She has the form in the book and will relish this test and fast ground. Her price looks to be a fair reflection of her chance so I couldn’t put you off getting the wheelbarrow out, but, for some value then look no further than Society Rock each-way.
1.30 Darley Prix Morny (Group 1) 6f
A race that I always look forward to and often one of the best 2 year old races of the flat season, the Prix Morny gets under way at Deauville this afternoon. Eleven go to post in search of Group 1 glory and a nice pot of 166k to boot, sounds ok right? It certainly does to the British and Irish raiders who are here in force once again to plunder a prize that often makes its way back over the English Channel. Alan Hughes provides a horse-by-horse guide to the days feature race.
Zenji – From master trainer Andre Fabre, this Japanese bred colt is 2 from 3 so far and obviously has a lot to offer. Zenji (14/1 SportingBet) won a Listed race at Longchamg over 7f in July, beating Sir Patrick Moore but it is likely he will need much more to get involved in this stepped back down in trip.
Alhebayeb – The first of Richard Hannon’s runners, the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum colt is partnered by Paul Hanagan. A Group 2 win last time out in the July Stakes showed his class, but again this one will need to step up here to really get involved. Nevertheless, Alhebayeb (9/1 Bet365) has some tasty entries and could be one to run into a place.
Mazameer – won well last time out when beating the Mark Johnston-trained Baileys Jubilee, but doesn’t look quite up to this grade. Freddie Head the trainer should be respected, especially with Christophe Soumillon in the plate, but at 8/1 (Mazameer) looks hard to back with great confidence.
Moohaajim – a once raced Cape Cross colt, the Marco Botti-trained inmate won his maiden in mid July at Ascot. He could literally be anything but has some nice entries and must be well thought of at home. Maxime Guyon takes the ride which is another plus, and at 16/1 (William Hill) there would be worse eachway shots around.
Parliament Square – The first of the Ballydoyle raiders is this experienced son of sprinting sire Acclamation. William Buick gets a rare outing in the saddle for the Irish, but his price of 20/1 (Ladbrokes) is probably a fair reflection of his chance today.
Reckless Abandon – the current race favourite (7/4 Boylesports) and Norfolk Stakes winner at Royal Asoct, this chap looks hard to oppose. He made the step up in trip by half a furlong at Maisons-Laffitte a few weeks ago and won fairly cosily. This is much tougher but he goes in with a leading chance. Sir Prancealot re-opposes after being beaten into 2nd that day, and may well get a touch closer this time.
George Vancouver – The 2nd Irish raider and more fancied of the two, George Vancouver (8/1 Bet365) is partnered by Ryan Moore. On the face of things the drying ground may not be ideal, but he is a well touted son of Henrythenavigator. Another nice colt with plenty of interesting entries, he may run into place but would be a surprise winner in my book.
Pearl Flute – Another representative of Pearl Bloodstock, Pearl Flute (25/1 PaddyPower) is the outsider of this field. A win in maiden company followed by a placed finish in Group 3 company looks good on the face of things, but, this son of Piccolo has it all to do against this lot.
Pennys Picnic – Another big priced runner (20/1 SkyBet), Pennys Picnic was 3 from 2 until meeting Reckless Abandon and co in the Prix Robert Papin. He ran well that day but got caught late on which doesn’t bode so well considering we are up in trip here by ½ a furlong. If ridden more conservatively he could represent some value, but others look more like the winner.
Sir Prancealot – The second Hannon runner, and the more fancied judging by the market and gallop reports. He got closet to Reckless Abandon in the aforementioned Prix Robert Papin and was making in-roads into the winner late on. Sent off a warm favourite for the Coventry Stakes before a troubled passage see him finish 4th, this trip and ground will suit, whilst the stable are bullish. Ryan Moore has jumped ship but Stephane Pasquier knows his way round here. Sir Prancealot (7/1 Ladbrokes) looks the main danger to the favourite.
Snowday – The final piece of the jigsaw, in colours I’m sure many of you recognise, Snowday (20/1 SkyBet) is another to have been on the receiving end of Reckless Abandon last time out. How he’s quite 20/1 I’m not sure as he was staying on nicely that day and looks sure to appreciate the step up in trip. A Group 3 winner and a Middle Park entry is nothing to be sniffed at – overpriced in my opinion.
Selection: Sir Prancealot EW @ 7/1 with Ladbrokes
Alternative: Snowday EW @ 20/1 with SkyBet
A small but select field line up for the main event on Saturday at Haydock Park, with just five going to post for the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, which is sponsored this year by Bet Victor. This race is always a good spectacle without being a very strong Group 3, but nevertheless normally provides a talented winner, and this year may just fall to one of the young pretenders writes Alan Hughes. Jukebox Jury is probably the best winner we’ve seen in recent years when he won in 2009, but, there are a couple here that rate highly in many people’s notebooks.
Of the five, discount Self Employed before we start as he is just not good enough for this level. Hunter’s Light (4/1, Bet365) tops the field and represents the boys in blue, Godolphin, with Silvestre De Sousa in the plate. The Dubawi 4 year old colt will be suited by the this drop back to 1m2f, but may not be completely suited by the drying ground. This 110 rated animal is no slouch and should give a good account but others are readily preferred. The legendary Sir Henry Cecil saddles Jet Away who is top rated at 112 and sits at the head of the market at 13/8 with Bet365, PaddyPower and the race sponsors Bet Victor. Jet Away finished a length in front of Ransom Note in the York Stakes last time out when managing only 4th, but has been campaigned at this level for a while and looks dangerous. He was slowly away and hampered that day, but here at Haydock in a small field there can’t be any excuses. Ten furlongs and fast ground look ideal and he will be bidding for another win for Messrs Cecil and Queally.
The aforementioned Ransom Note (7/2 PaddyPower) has been highly tried since last season and has taken some decent prize money along the way. He hasn’t looked quite himself this season after a winter trip to Hong Kong and cannot rate as a serious betting proposition until showing some improved form, although I wouldn’t be at all suprised if he ran into a place if given an easy lead at the head of affairs. The last of the quintet is the Richard Fahey-trained GABRIAL (3/1 Bet365, PaddyPower and Bet Victor) who gets a handy weight allowance for being the only 3 year old in this race. The son of Dark Angel, who incidentally has made a great start at stud, has never been further than a mile in his short career but looks well worth this chance. Two early wins as a two year old showed his class but he has taken time to come to himself this season, finally getting off the mark here at Haydock in May. That win was in handicap company but he was stepped up to Group 1 class afterwards when taking in the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot, followed by the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. Gabrial finished 5th at Ascot in a decent renewal and stayed on towards the finish nicely. A win was never on the cards at Goodwood when taking on the mighty Frankel, but a 3rd place finish was no disgrace. Rated 108, he finished just 3 ¼ lengths behind Farhh (2nd) at Goodwood who’s mark is 122 (also received 7lb). The one worry would be his tendency to hang when under pressure, but last time out he showed none of this, so the problem may have been ironed out on the gallops at home. His half-brother was placed in France over 10f, whilst his dam was a triple winner at the distance so you would expect this trip will be within range. At the prices he ranks the chief danger to the favourite, and is well worth a bet considering he receives a 7lb weight allowance. Hold-up specialist Jamie Spencer is in the plate and won on him here in May which bodes well for another bold show.
Gabrial WIN @ 3/1 with Bet365
Reverse f/c Gabrial / Jet Away
Attention turns to France on Sunday as a decent card is in the offing from Chantilly. It is the Prix Jean Prat at 2.40 which provides the most interesting race, and there is a colt trained by Freddie Head who looks to be the value call.
2.40 Prix Jean Prat (Group 1) 1mile
Eight go to post for the Group 1 contest that is always won by a nice horse. This year may seem a little light on numbers but there is some quality in there, notably Guineas 2nd French Fifteen, German Guineas winner Caspar Netscher and St James’s Palace 3rd Gregorian. Throw into the mix a couple of other French challengers and we have ourselves a decent contest.
French Fifteen looks the one to beat after his 2nd place finish to Camelot AT Newmarket back in May but he is 7/4 for this and looks plenty short enough. Arnold Lane could go well at a big price but I doubt he is good enough to win, whilst similar comments apply to Caspar Netscher who has been a wonderful flag bearer for his owners over the past 18 months.
Gregorian is a favourite horse of mine who has tons of ability but hasn’t quite got his head in front in a big race yet, but, surely it is a matter of time. John Gosden is in great form and he should be fine on this ground. His exertions at Royal Ascot may be the negative, as he is back out on the track after just 12 days. He rates as a big danger. Further down, Xanadou has been running with great credit for Jean-Claude Rouget and is partnered by the never dull Christophe Soumillion. He is a course and distance winner and is in good form coming into this.
The one that really interests me though is the Freddie Head-trained SOFAST. Olivier Peslier takes the ride for the connections of Goldikova, and looks sure to have a live chance in this one at 6/1 with Bet365. A smart 2 year old colt, he mixed it with the best over 6 and 7f, including champion Dabirism. The son of Rock Of Gibraltar has trained on well, but looked in need of the run when 3rd to Dragon Pulse when first seen out at Longchamp this season. That run was followed by a very good performance here at Chantilly when narrowly going down to Saint Baudolino who subsequently went on to finish 2nd in the Prix Du Jockey Club in early June (French Derby). Sofast ran in that race but got no sort of run and therefore his performance can be discounted. French Fifteen suffered a similar fate in the aforementioned cavalry charge, so the pair of them should be much more suited by this smaller field. Sofast back down to a mile looks primed for a big run and seems a sure fire nap to hit the places. I think 6/1 is great value against the favourite so I’m happy to get stuck in each-way, as well as playing the reverse forecast with French Fifteen. Gregorian may follow them home if his Royal Ascot endeavours have left no mark.
Sofast EW @ 6/1 with Bet365
Reverse Forecast Sofast / French Fifteen
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The first juvenile race of Royal Ascot 2012 gets under way at 4.25, and what a cracker it looks set to be, writes Alan Hughes. The Coventry Stakes is a Group 2 contest for 2 year old colts or geldings, raced over six furlongs of the lush Ascot turf. It is a race I always get excited about and often throws up some serious animals – this renewal looks no different. I had a shortlist of 5 last week which is now been cut down since the final declaration stage, but still think there is a little bit of value at the head of the market.
Before we get stuck in, remember that the Coventry Stakes is normally won by a horse with 1 or 2 runs, of which normally have been won or at least hit the frame. The statisticians amongst you will have an idea of the winners profile, but to narrow down further, we like a horse who has been off the track for between 4-6 weeks, perfect time to get primed for Royal Ascot. Favourites have a great record in this race too, and it is always worth starting at the top of the market. No fewer than 7 favourites from the last 10 runnings have taken the pot.
We’ll start at the top of the market with the current 4/1 (William Hill) favourite Dawn Approach. The Jim Bolger-trained son of Derby winning New Approach has 3 wins to his name from as many starts. He has started favourite on each of those occasions and dealt with his opposition with the minimum of fuss. Those wins have come in small fields and generally on good to yielding ground, which shouldn’t be too dissimilar to conditions at Ascot come Tuesday. He looks as if this trip is perfect and won’t want too much further in time but should progress into a decent miler for this top handler. In terms of his chances for this, having already had 3 runs and with only a 2 week break since his win at Navan, I’m happy to take him on. At 4/1 in a field of 23 I would wager that there will be one somewhere else that can improve past him, whilst from the form book I don’t think he has done anything that special anyway. That said, he is favourite for a reason and should not be discounted, but from a betting angle he is not of too much interest, so much so that I would consider laying him at 7/2, a price that some firms are currently offering. He is drawn in the middle of the pack which gives his rider options, but a lower stall would have been ideal.
The second Irish raider, and filling the number two spot in the betting is Aidan O’Brien’s charge, Cristoforo Colombo. Another winner, from just the one start, this Henrythenavigator colt won at Navan over 6f, beating a field of 8 average horses in the process. O’Brien saddles another in the race but Jospeh O’Brien is on this one which is a big pointer and he obviously must have come on bundles for that first run. Cristoforo Colombo is related to Middle Park winner Crusade and his dam was a smart sprinter across the pond, meaning he is likely to be at his best between this trip and up to a mile in time. I’m not fussed on the form but he has a nice profile and will obviously be primed for a serious tilt at glory. He is drawn nicely in stall 6 and is currently best price 5/1 (Bet365). The stablemate Lines Of Battle is a big son of American stallion War Front and is again 1 from 1 but won a much better maiden at the Curragh in late May. He beat Leitir Mor that day quite cosily and travelled like a serious horse. The aforementioned second that day is a stablemate of the favourite and has gone on to run with credit behind another O’Brien horse just last week (Gale Force Ten). As he is American bred, I was a tad worried about the ground for him but he coped on good ground at the Curragh, so if the rain stays away then he could be worth a bet at Ascot. The family is full of winners, albeit not quite superstars, but they are a tidy bunch and this guy could continue in that vein and run into a place at 10/1 (PaddyPower). Ryan Moore is in the plate which is no bad thing either and his trainer has probably had this as his plan for a while, stating after his maiden win that he could be bound for Royal Ascot. He has all the fancy entries for this season and is obviously thought highly of at home.
The two Charles Hills horses are very interesting, the shorter priced Englishman (8/1 William Hill) having been well touted. The Royal Applause colt has been off the track since April after winning his maiden at Newbury, a relatively strong one at that, and looks sure to run well although the longish break is a small concern. Again, the stablemate Funk Soul Brother is of interest, partnered by Darryll Holland rather than Michael Hills who takes the mount on the first string. Darryll is in great form at the moment and if he gets a tune out of this son of dual Guineas winner Cockney Rebel, then he may reward each-way players. The pair look very progressive and must be given a market check.
The last, and probably most exciting is the Richard Hannon-trained Sir Prancealot. Aptly named, this colt is no mug on the track and is two from two, including a win in the National Stakes at Sandown last time out. That was a very eye catching performance, showing an electric turn of foot after getting into a bit of trouble 3f out. He waltzed away from the field, rather than pranced, and won by 4 ½ lengths. Sir Prancealot is sired by Tamayuz and is currently rated the best of his progeny after a very slow start at stud. He obviously has an incredible amount of ability and a scintillating turn of foot to boot; the best part being he has Richard Hughes in the saddle, a match made in heaven. The Hannon team have always known he was a bit special and is another purchase by the Doyle bloodstock team that has come up trumps. They seem to get hold of all sorts of nice horses from different lines, Canford Cliffs, Dick Turpin, Paco Boy and Monsieur Chevalier to name just a few. He seems to be the best English horse in this and at 5/1 (Bet365) he looks a very fair price. I would have liked to have seen another week or two to recover from his last win, but he did that nicely and without a real scrap so hopefully his trainer has him firing on all cylinders come Tuesday. The major negative is the car park draw in 21 which is a real burden, but if he is as special as the Hannon’s think, then he should at least threaten the judge.
On account of the record of favourites, I’m sticking at the top of the market but can’t have Dawn Approach. I like Lines Of Battle each-way at 10/1 although his stable mate Cristoforo Colombo is evidently more fancied by connections. Sir Prancealot heads the home team, and after being so taken with his last win at Sandown, I’ll stick with him and expect the market to back him into joint or stand out favourite come Tuesday.
Sir Prancealot WIN @ 5/1 with Bet365
Lines Of Battle EW @ 10/1 with William Hill