Tag Archives: Ascot

Betting Preview: Champion Stakes

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3.30 Ascot: British Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

On paper this is likely a match between odds-on favourite Cracksman and top rated Crystal Ocean. It’s also the duel of the super sires Frankel vs. Sea The Stars.

Cracksman is the one who’s likely to enjoy the soft going the little more. First time blinkers after a surprising defeat at Ascot when last seen is an interesting move by John Gosden. Personally I judge this as a big minus. One couldn’t help but feel, despite his early season wins, that Cracksman isn’t as good – or shall we rather say focused – as he was last season. The Coronation Cup scare already was a revealing hint, I feel.

On prices I probably would favour Crystal Ocean. He’s 4lb higher rated at the moment. Something to take with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it tells a story of a horse who’s at the top of his game.

In saying that, Crystal Ocean continues to chase the elusive Group 1 victory. While his runner-up performance behind wonder mare Enable at Kempton showed he remains as good as ever, with ground potentially too soft to be ideal and a trip potentially too short to be ideal, I find myself picking plenty of holes not only in to the odds-on favourite, but also the second fancy in the betting.

Capri? An interrupted season, has to be taken seriously still, after a damn good effort in the Arc. He could try to steel the race from the front, utilizing his superior stamina. He’s a fair price, for sure.

However, I’m drawn to a massive long-shot here. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity, last year’s National Stakes winner. Things didn’t go plan for him afterwards, clearly. And his latest showing in the Irish Champion Stakes is worrisome, despite a more than fair seasonal reappearance weeks earlier.

On the other hand the ground looks ideal for him, unlike at Leopardstown. Whether he can stretch out to 10f on soft going is an entirely different matter. Either way, I feel this lad has a big race in him. Jim Bolger continues to show faith, otherwise he wouldn’t bring him over.

As the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights, despite a massive price I can see him outrunning this price tag for at least a place.

Selection:
10pts Each/Way – Verbal Dexterity @ 28/1 PP

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Saturday Selections: Irish Champion Stakes Day 2017

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1.50 Haydock: Ascendant Stakes (Listed), 1m

Some interesting contenders here; soft ground winners Dee Ex Bee and Dark Acclaim make plenty of appeal. I, however, think Godolphin’s Dubhe looks one with a massive amount of improvement to come.

He left a fair debut behind when landing a maiden in soft conditions at Sandown. While that was not a true test and he holding the advantage as the sole front-runner, the fact that he won easily going away in the end in a sprint finish, while it looks abundantly clear that he needs further sooner rather than later, was impressive.

He stays over the mile trip, which in heavy conditions with potentially a quicker pace should suit him down to the grounds to play out class and stamina.

Superbly bred, by Dubawi out of Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens, I feel he takes plenty of beating and therefore Dubhe is a tasty price.

Selection:
10pts win – Dubhe @ 5/1 Bet365

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5.05 Leopardstown: Group 3 Enterprise Stakes, 1m 4f

Eziyra is a fair favourite given her impressive form this season to make it back to back wins for trainer Dermot Wel. Though, Spanish Step has won a Group 3 earlier this season and has a fair shout here too.

That says stable mate and former Derby runner-up US Army Ranger is the x-factor in the race.

He drops in class and trip, and this combination should see him go very close judged on ratings. Yes, he has been a major disappointment ever since coming close to land the big prize at Epsom, however he still ran to a time speed rating of 94 when last seen, which is still the best in this field.

Selection:
10pts win – US Army Ranger @ 6/1 Bet365

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5.35 Leopardstown: Group 1 Matron Stakes, 1m

The class act is Winter. If all goes to plan she wins. She has a top draw and the bit of rain that may leave a bit of softness in ground won’t bother her.

In my mind she can only be beaten if the long season has left a mark on her. Then the French raider Qemah comes into the equation. Her wide draw is an issue, nonetheless she remains a big price and has a better chance.

The winner of last years Coronation Stakes had a light campaign up until now, won at Royal Ascot earlier this season and was an unlucky 4th behind Roly Poly in the Prix Rothschild when last seen.

At her best, and if she can overcome the draw disadvantage with the magic man in the saddle, she has a chance to trouble Winter.

Selection:
10pts win – Qemah @ 7/1 Bet365

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6.45 Leoapardstown: Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

Twelve months ago it was the race of the races – something we racing fans hope for but see not enough of: the best take on the best. On the flat the best often try to avoid each other, if possible. The Irish Champion Stakes stood true to its name in 2016, though, and saw the best battle it out with the very best.

This year looked for a while a slightly underwhelming race in prospect. The stars of last year are either under performing or retired. However the week leading up to the big enjoyed a timely boost with the conformation of smart Eminent giving it a go against the almighty Churchill.

Eminent has enhanced his credentials with an impressive front-running performance in a Group 2 over 10 furlongs at Deavuille last month, after three winless efforts at the highest level. Is he quite up to the standard required to beat Churchill? We find out today.

The dual Guineas winner proved satisfactory his stamina when runner-up in the Juddmonte International. So neither ground nor trip hold any fear for the highest rated individual in this field.

He’s got the perfect draw and the help of one or two stable mates likely setting a good pace – I find it hard to look beyond him, to be honest. Yes, Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Decorated Night, or stable mate and Derby second Cliffs Of Moher are fine horses in their own right. But this looks all set for another Group 1 victory for Churchill.

Selection:
10pts win – Churchill @ 11/10 PP

Friday Selections: 8th September 2017

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5.00 Ascot: Class 2 Handicap, 1 mile

I was keen on Big Baz when he ran a blinder in the big Logistics Handicap at York a fortnight ago. He finished an excellent sixth that day in a hot contest suggesting he’s back to somewhere near his best.

The handicapper dropped him 2lb subsequently which should give him a massive chance to outrun his price tag today given conditions will surely suit well with cut in the ground over his preferred trip.

Selction: 
10pts win – Big Baz @ 10/1 Bet365

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5.30 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

The lightly raced favourite African Friend looks sure to go well, though I prefer the experience of Duke Cosimo who drops to a dangerous mark here.

He hasn’t won for a long time, however showed some spark at Redcar when last seen in a hot race that already works out quite well. Softish ground is no issue for him and a 3lb claimer on board should help too.

Selection: 
10pts win – Duke Cosimo @ 14/1 PP

 

 

Saturday Selections – 24th June 2017

1.35 Redcar: Novice Stakes, 6 furlongs

David O’Meara has generally a healthy record in these type of races. So Gabrial The Devil is interesting. Seemingly in need of the pipe opener at Chester a fortnight ago he should be sharper today dropping into an easier race as well. There is a bit of money arriving this morning, which looks a good sign.

His sire, albeit a small sample size, has a very fine record over this sort of trip and ground with offspring so I do expect improvement from Gabrial The Devil, which could see him go very close in an open contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Gabrial The Devil @ 16/1 bet365

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3.20 Newmarket: Class 4 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

Top weight Fleeting Motion makes plenty of appeal in a weakish race. Ignore her last form at Newmarket in softish conditions which never suited and also came possibly too soon. She looked gutsy when landing a fair maiden at Doncaster and followed up with a nice 4th place in a good Conditions race at Ascot.

She came off a break that day and travelled like the winner just to get tired in the final furlong. A repeat of that performance should enough to be very competitive in this race.

Ground and trip will suit and a mark off 84 offers hope as there is potentially still a bit of improvement left in this daughter of Sepoy.

Selection: 
10pts win – Fleeting Motion @ 6/1 Coral

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3.40 Ascot: Hardwicke Stakes, Group 2 , 1m 4f

Dartmouth over 12f on fast ground? Possible, but not a 5/2 chance in a big and hot field like this. Most intriguing runner is Wings Of Desire for obvious reasons. Runner-up in the King George last year, hasn’t been seen since a subsequent off effort.

The solid horse who surely appreciates conditions and is very likely to be good enough and have trained on is Ballydoyle’s Idaho. This is his second start after a decent comeback run – this seems the ideal opportunity to land a top level prize.

He was 3rd in the Epsom Derby and close runner-up in the Irish Derby, subsequently scored in the Great Voltigeur Stakes last season. All rock solid form and as good as anything in this field.

I have slight concerns whether he’ll be ridden with too much patience but hope they are positive and use his stamina as otherwise he may get rolling too late. That worth a risk to take.

Selection:
10pts win – Idaho @ 9/2 Bet365

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4.40 Newmarket. Class 2 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Favourite Jumira Bridge could easily have too much on his plate in this race. He landed the odds as expected in a Brighton maiden when dropped to the minimum trip and followed up with a strong win at Sandown in a hot Cl2 Handicap.

Things did not go his way at the start yet he was authoritive eventually. When last seen in a Listed event at York he was clearly not suited by the softish conditions, however fast 5f today will likely see him to his best.

He looks still capable of better and both speed- and RP ratings back this up. It’s only his seventh run, the fourth over 5f, two of those he won – he’s a good thing today.

Selection:
10pts win – Jumira Bridge @ 13/8 Bet365

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9.05 Haydock: Class 5 Maiden, 1 mile

Race fit Najashee sets a good standard and will improve from his experience, however Godolphin’s Big Tour makes more appeal to me in a race that shapes as one between the two market leaders.

This expensive purchase is obviously well bred and should be reasonably talented judged on a fine debut run at Kempton last season. It’s fair to assume he is ready to go today with the yard having a strong record in maiden races this year and Bin Suroor enjoying a near 40% strike rate in Haydock maiden races over the years.

The step up to a mile will suit this Dubawi son quite a bit, so should be the decent ground. It’s a bit of a gamble sometimes on these type of Godolphin runners, however at 15/8 I feel there is a bit too much juice in the price.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Tour @ 15/8 Bet365

Royal Ascot Wednesday

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

Royal Ascot is upon us…. and I missed day one. Just returned from a three week long trip around Australia, work was calling on Monday right away and left no room for any form study, neither yesterday. Without a proper study I don’t throw bucks on the nags and rather enjoy the replays of the big races.

None bigger than the curtain raiser on the opening Tuesday which is the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes – somehow in my mind  the World Cup final for milers!

Maybe because I call myself Paco Boy’s Nr. 1 fan. His triumph in 2009 was such a special, memorable, eye-catching and simply beautiful performance – it left a lasting mark on me.

So of course I was keen to see who’d get up in this years renewal. Ribchester the big favourite after landing the Lockinge in superb style. Not quite as impressive this time, but in the end with authority, the Godolphin inmate ran all his rivals down.

Only one of many brilliant performances on the day. Lady Aurelia bolting up in the King’s Stand and Barney Roy got his first Group 1 win under the belt, while Churchill found this possibly one too many a race.

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2.30 Ascot: Jersey Stakes, Group 3, 7 furlongs

A hot race that will inevitably end up in a split of the field I believe – pace drawn close to both sides of the rails should ensure a fair enough contest…. hopefully.

It’s hard to make a call what site to favour and what eventually happens in this race, but on pure form you have to very keen on French raider Le Brivido, runner-up in the French Guineas. Drawn in ten he will have every opportunity to make a choice but might early on and no doubt with only two starts to his name he looks bound to improve.

However I fancy second favourite Dream Castle a lot. Drawn in 19 could be a problem, but doesn’t have to be. Fact is this son of Frankel is riddled with talent as he showed on debut when winning impressively, followed up by an incredibly eye-catching performance in the Greenham.

He was argubly unlucky in the 2000 Guineas subsequently and clearly is better than the bare results suggests. He pulled in the first half of the race, was then hampered and a clear run denied at a crucial stage, yet finished strongly.

He has had only three career starts, so there is every chance for more to come as the fast ground and the drop to 7f won’t be a problem, in fact a fast race over this sort of trip should be ideal.

Selection:
10pts win – Dream Castle @ 4/1 Bet365

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4.20 Ascot: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Group 1, 1m 2f

Despite the trip possibly short of his optimum, Highland Reel from the front over 10f on fast ground at Ascot could be difficult to peg back, I feel. He a high-class individual and bounced back to his best in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

I feel his biggest challange won’t come from Jack Hobbs, who got the better of him in Dubai because the drop in trip in combination of quick ground is a much clearer disadvantage for the 2015 derby runner-up in my mind at least.

Most likely to enjoy these conditions is Sir Michael’s classy Galileo colt Ulysses, though. His seasonal reappearance at Sandown was pleasing and the form franked by runner-up Deauville.

He’s yet to score at the highest level however had his fare share of problems which means after eight career starts he might still be able to find a bit of improvement. I’m slightly concerned about him being too far off the pace in this race, on the other hand – but that’s the risk to take.

Selection: 
10pts win – Ulysses @ 4/1 Bet365

Thursday Racing

Not all Frankel offspring can be classy. Seven Heavens certainly isn’t. I felt he deserved his chance dropping in trip in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot yesterday afternoon. However he finished weak. No excuses this time.

However this proved to be the perfect test for Blue Point. Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Dewhurst third enjoyed the return to sprinting and looks an exciting prospect for this division this season. You’d have to think the Commonwealth Cup is the ideal target for him.

Mill Reef Stakes winner Harry Angel ran a big race in second, pulling hard. If he learns to settle there is a lot of upside for this Dark Angel colt.

In the meantime the declarations for the 2000 Guineas are in. It’ll be the smallest field since 1988 – with only ten horses going to post! Churchill remains the overwhelming favourite. He’s a general 6/4 chance.

I’m still happy with my selection, though. Al Wukair has been my ante-post fancy ever since he romped home in the Prix Djebel, and I remain confident that he’ll give me a big run for my money.

There is also a nice article on Al Wukair on the Racingpost website for further reading.

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4.00 Redcar, Class 5 Handicap, 1m 1f

Some interesting horses in this race. Favourite Teodoro could improve big time for the trip on handicap debut while Ronnie The Rooster looks the form choice.

However bottom weight Turning Gold is the most attractive price. He had three maiden runs in quick succession last year, totally unfancied SP’s ranging from 50/1 to 200/1.

However given connections, this Prescott runner is bound improve. The handicapper thinks the same and has allotted a rather biggish mark of 58 – where did he get that from, given the shocking maiden form?

Doesn’t matter, because it could still be not enough to stop this Pivotal son on handicap debut. He steps up to 9f which looks within range on pedigree. Turning Gold was also a very late foal, born in May, so he’s likely to be better with age and experience.

It seems significant that Luke Morris is in the saddle who rides plenty of winners for Mark Prescott and has only this one ride today.

Selection:
10pts win – Turning Gold @ 10/1 Bet365

One more chance for Seven Heavens

Uh, this was quite decent day… two winners and both did the job very nicely. Brimham Rocks (5/2) never really travelled but he did have, as expected – or at least hoped – plenty in hand when it really mattered. Whereas Otomo (6/1) clearly enjoyed the drop in trip and made all from the front in fine style.

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3.45 Ascot: Pavilion Stakes – Group 3, 6 furlongs

I was quite keen on Frankel son Seven Heavens in the European Free Handicap two weeks ago when he returned from his winter break. Unfortunately the three year old pulled his chances away in the early stages of the race. He was far too keen to last home the full seven furlongs distance at the Rowley Mile.

This a recurring theme with this exuberant colt who shares quite some similarities – not only in terms of looks – with his prominent daddy.

Hope is not lost, though. Fast ground over six furlong on a galloping track like Ascot may suit allot better, so the drop in trip must not be a negative. Much the appositive. His pace and exuberance might be an advantage here.

So can be race fitness over the majority of the field where no less nine of twelve horses are returning from a seasonal break.

I believe this is an ideal chance for Seven Heavens to show us that he can be a pattern horse. The jury is still out, it’s not clear how good he is, given his two wins from last season are nothing to shout about form wise at least.

However he has the pedigree, the looks  and appeared to be having talent. There won’t be any excuse for a below par showing this time, that’s for sure.

Selection:
10pts win – Seven Heavens @ 8/1 Bet365