It’s been a rather quiet week so far. But I have five selections for what I call a proper “Super Saturday” today. As we’re on the home stretch in July I could do with another winner to “ring fence” the profit for the month.
Please read my comprehensive preview for the King George here.
2.25 Ascot: Group 3 Valient Stakes, 1m
I fully understand why Zanbaq is favourite in this contest, but the price is silly in my view. It’s a different proposition stepping up from a Handicap, albeit a strong one at Royal Ascot, to Group 3 level. The fact she can miss the break and likely will have to come from off the pace could turn out to be a significant disadvantage too.
The one seriously overpriced is German raider Novemba. She has to give weight away to the younger generation but she is a proven Stakes filly with a Classic victory to her name.
Her third place behind Real World last October is the standout form on offer in this race. She couldn’t match this form in two starts this season, but she needed the run at Baden-Baden and wasn’t disgraced at Royal Ascot in the Duke Of Cambridge.
The round track will suit her better today. She likes to be up with the pace. Being on the speed should be an advantage today, in my view, especially on fast ground.
Saying that, the ground is a concern. No question she prefers it softer. But she can act on a faster surface and I feel given she’s likely the best filly in the race and may enjoy a tactical advantage over key rivals, she is clearly overpried.
10pts win – Novemba @ 7/1
3.35 Ascot: Group 1 King George, 1m 4f
5.20 Ascot: Class 2 Handicap, 5f
Jawaal was beaten by a combined margin of 23 lengths+ in four starts this year although he didn’t ran quite that badly in my view. He certainly caught the eye in his two starts in May, actually and also had sometimes more, sometimes less, valid excuses the last two times.
In any case, as a consequence of finishing down the field four times in a row, he has fallen dramatically in the official ratings. If he is indeed better than the bare forms suggest, as I believe, and he can find back to somewhere closer to last seasons form, he’d be a massive runner today.
He won twice in 2021, and ran to topspeed 98 at Haydock in September – arguably a career best – and also achieved 84 and 89 topspeeds earlier the year.
In truth, even with valid excuses, the way he finished his races this year doesn’t suggest he’s close to that. On the other hand he usually travelled quite smoothly, but found trouble in-running and didn’t produce any significant kick once in the clear.
That can be a sure sign for his waning ability now as a 7-year-old. Nonetheless, down to a mark of 89, with ideal fast ground conditions, at track he’s CD winner and potentially cheek-pieces to help in a wide open contest, I’ll give him a chance to find some form. If he does he’ll be hard to beat.
10pts win – Jawaal @ 9/1
7.30 Salisbury: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
I quite like Delagate This Lord here who will probably enjoy ideal conditions stepping back up to 6 furlongs again. But I struggle to bring myself backing an 8-year-old, especially with an exciting alternative.
Perhaps even a blind man would have seen the eyecatching run Prophecy produced earlier this month at Ffos Las. He couldn’t get a clear run at all, yet finished supremely well on the bridle in the closing stages, matching the quickest final furlong. He looked like a horse well ahead of his mark.
That was his comeback run after a long break. He changed yards too. Still a maiden after 10 lifetime starts, though he showed a bit of promise on the All-Weather. Today is only his third run on turf. He looks pretty unexposed for the surface and there looks to be significant improvement to come, judged on the last run.
There are clear risks attached today, and that’s probably the reason why he’s as a big a price he is: the potential “bounce factor”, the firm ground may not be ideal, given his full-sister did her best running on softer, and he probably will improve markedly for a step up in trip.
And yet at given odds I can’t ignore him, too impressive was this recent run, too far ahead of his mark he appears to be.
10pts win – Prophecy @ 6/1
8.40 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
Sir Philip caught the eye on his handicap debut over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton earlier this month. Five furlongs are certainly too sharp as was evidence when he struggled badly at the back of the field. He finished nicely on the eye though, without being overly hard ridden in the closing stages.
Stepping up to 7 furlongs looks the right move on pedigree and visual evidence from all his races. He is still lightly raced and completely unexposed over this trip. Down to a mark of 59 he has opportunities I feel, especially in a weak race.
Drawn in stall 1 offers a way forward, I hope but is also a danger. If he misses the break he could be left in a poor position. He showed that he can start quickly on his second career run, incidentally the only one beyond fife furlongs to date.
10pts win – Sir Philip @ 13.5