Saturday again, and I come up with the exact same selection as seven days ago! All-Weather, Lingfield…. again. Given it’s the height of the summer and supposedly the flat season this is remarkable. But this was a light week already, as I struggled to find compelling betting opportunities.
The same goes for today. The fast ground at the Curragh deprives me of one opportunity I’d have been excited about otherwise; Shergar Cup isn’t a betting proposition for me.
Saying that, tomorrow is German Oaks day. Really looking forward to the race; there’s oneafilly I can’t wait to see. But more on that later….
5.00 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m
Richard P Smith was desperately only a week ago over course and distance when he was way too patiently ridden and never given a chance under a shocking ride by Rob Havlin. He finished strongly, seemingly the best horse in the race. 2lb up for that effort shouldn’t stop him today.
He showed to be most likely ahead of his mark earlier in June on his handicap debut too. There he ran a huge race at Chepstow as he was quite keen early on and was hanging ever so slightly too. He attempted to make all from the front, had the field on the stretch from three furlongs out and found under pressure. He was eventually beaten by a horse from off the pace.
That form looks quite strong already. This race today is a poor contest. He really should be winning this especially as I expect him to be ridden much more positive dropping down to a mile.
Concerns as I write this over the drift in the market. He’s available at bigger prices than what I got and deemed value already.
BoundlessOcean won the Group 3 contest at Leopardstown in fine fashion today. The faith paid off, he was too good for this field. The significant drop in class and distance helped. He was certainly less keen – by his standards – travelled like a dream and won in the manner of a horse with bigger targets on the horizon.
Ustath didn’t quite make it a perfect day. A solid 2nd place, beaten by half a lengths. Went off too fast I reckon and then got into trouble up the stiff Hamilton finish. He’s one to keep an eye on in terms of handicap mark. If the handicapper doesn’t react too harshly then he remains of interest over 6 furlongs on fast ground.
3.18 Newbury: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f
Vaynor goes for a hat-trick and I back him to be able to win his third race in a row. The penny has dropped and the gelding looks vastly improved from run to run ever since returning to turf this year.
He won a poor class 6 Handicap over 1m 6f at Bath in early June, although in fine fashion and running to a 4lb better topspeed than his mark then. He followed up in better grade next time at Newmarket, although dropping in trip. He won going away and with a bit in hand, also finishing much the fastest on sectionals over the last three furlongs.
He ran to a 67 topspeed rating off a 67 handicap mark and that looks pretty good given how commanding the performance was. His revised mark of 73 is more than fair and potentially on the lenient side. He could easily have more to offer and can improve again given he was also a May foal and needed time to mature.
Pace seems crucial to him. There should be enough in the race to make it a solid test. But he’s versatile enough to make his own race too. Even though he races against better rivals, there isn’t really another well handicapped individual in the field.
10pts win – Vaynor @ 7/2
7.10 Newmarket: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 4f
Pub Crawl is a horse I am monitoring since the start of the season. His seasonal reappearance at Leicester was eyecatching but it was his subsequent Epsom Handicap debut that got me seriously interested in the 3-year-old gelding.
That day plenty of things went wrong but he finished incredibly strongly once out in the clear giving the impression of potentially being ahead of his mark, especially if going up in trip.
He’s clearly a tricky sort as sluggish starts are his “trademark” and he can find trouble during races as well. He put all those bad traits on show the next two times.
Although he looks regressive and hasn’t gotten any help from the handicapper, he wasn’t disgraced in his last two runs in my view. Those were competitive affairs over ten furlongs and things didn’t go his way.
He now steps up to 12 furlongs. A trip he’s not certain to stay. On the other hand things happen a whole lot slower here and that will suit. It’s not impossible on pedigree and he can run on strongly in the closing stages, which suggests he stays.
Interestingly Pub Crawl has been noted in the Weekender paper Newmarket Gallops section to have worked really well on two occasions since his Sandown flop. He’s got the assistance of excellent 5lb claiming Benoit De La Sayette in the saddle. This is also a wide open contest. He must have a strong chance to get his head in front if he stays.
Ustath is so desperately ready to win a race…. if the ground stays fast. There is some rain on the way, possibly it won’t be enough to turn the ground to slower than the current good to fast, but Hamilton has watered – of course – so you never know.
I feel he clearly needs solid fast ground to be seen to best effect these days, but I take the risk. Ustath has caught the eye a number of times this year, certainly ran better than bare forms suggest even though his ever falling mark would contradict this notion too.
He’s down to a turf mark of 50 now. He’s ran to topspeeds of 50+ a whopping 18 times in his career on all surfaces, and ran to 50 and 58 on the All-Weather earlier this year, suggesting he’s clearly up- if not a good bit better than this revised Official Rating.
He was not best placed two weeks ago at Thirsk, ran with plenty of credit over the minimum trip at Ripon and was badly hampered at Catterick. The stiff Hamilton 6 furlongs should suit perfectly, especially on fast ground.
10pts win – Ustath @ 4/1
7.20 Leopardstown: Group Meld Stakes, 9f
You could make a case for anyone and against anyone in this field. The one that I am prepared to give a chance is Boundless Ocean. He seems underappreciated, even though normally he wouldn’t be a bet for me either.
He’s yet to better an 83 topspeed rating in nine lifetime starts, but there are some mitigating factors, hence I am prepared to give him a pass. This Group 3 event over 9 furlongs looks an ideal test that hopefully sees him run a strong race.
He caught the eye a few times this season. I certainly liked his Derby run better than the 6/8 finish would reveal. He was held up in last position and settled better than in previous races, which is not to say he wasn’t keen at different stages throughout the race, regardless.
He had a lot to do from the back of the field turning for home given the race was won at the frontend. He then made a good looking move from three furlongs out until emptying in the closing stages. The trip as beyond him in any case.
He’s a difficult colt to ride it seems. Can miss the break and often pulls really hard for his head. But he clearly got some talent. I felt he was a bit unlucky in the Gallinule Stakes when short of room at a crucial stage and pulled way too hard over 12 furlongs when runner-up subsequently.
A drop to 9 furlongs seems a wise move especially in this lesser company against some beatable rivals. There are no excuses today. I would hope he’s good enough to book himself another opportunity in higher grade subsequently.
No fifth winner in a row. Sophiesticate got close. Really close. Despite drifting out to 12/1 SP. Beaten a neck in the end after a brave performance. This was probably her best chance to win for the next while.
Mellecamp got off to a quick start, led the field and did simply too much too soon. He ran out of gas from two furlongs out and hang quite badly under pressure too. The 7.5f trip was borderline stamina wise but I maintain hope that he can win a race and is better than this mark, which may be reduced even further now. A stiff 6 furlongs looks ideal.
3.10 Beverley: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Canaria Prince caught the eye a number of times with some brave front-running performances. In a competitive 20-runner handicap at Thirsk when last seen he produced his usual game effort but didn’t quite last the 6 furlongs as the winner and runner-up came from off the pace.
He bumped into some well-handicapped horses lately too. Especially the close runner-up effort behind Elzaal in May at Carlisle rates strongly in my book.
That’s when he tried the minimum trip for only the second time in his career, and also the last time until now. He had excuses on his final start in 2021, the only other run over five furlongs.
Back in May at Carlisle they came clear of the rest of the field and Canaria Prince showed that he has the speed for 5 furlongs but also has a lovely attitude as he always fights well to the line.
Fast ground, a stiff 5 furlongs at Beverley from a good draw looks an ideal combination. If he runs to same level of form as in recent weeks he’s a solid chance, if he can find a tiny bit of improvement for track and trip then he’s probably hard to beat in a poor field.
The three-year-olds Primo and Chant For More rate the biggest threats. Primo in particular, comes here in great form and may be able to defy a hefty rise in the mark, though isn’t one to trust fully and can mess up at the start.
I imagine Mokaman to jump out the quickest, grabbing the rail and setting a fast pace, with Canaria Prince tracking him. There should be no hard luck story for him at all, the race is set up for him to win.
On a roll. A hat-trick of winners over the last three days. Flotus won the Group 3 Summer Stakes at York in lovely fashion.
It couldn’t have gone any better: the filly broke well, led the field, although others tried to go with her. Halfway through the race I thought she may have done too much too early. But she kept going all the way strongly to the line. She proved the best filly in the race. Class prevailed.
Hard to believe how rapidly and dramatically the tide can turn in this game as long as you make good decisions, believe in your method (IF it’s a solid and proven method) and show consistency in the effort put in day in day out and most importantly the quality of decisions made.
Already five winners in the first week of July, that’s one more than in the entire individual months of April or May. Right now things are flowing, so to speak. But the pendulum can swing as quickly the other way again, I know all too well.
So I’ll try to stick (not always easy) to the Golden Rules regarding emotions: never too high, never too low. Because three losers on Saturday and the world looks a little bit gloomier again.
3.35 Ascot: Group 2 Summer Mile, 1m
A close one: there isn’t much between the main principles in the field on official ratings, RPR’s or topspeed – the outcome will depend on the form on the day, on pace and possibly on who gets first run round the Ascot mile.
Modern News, My Oberon and Perotto met only a fortnight ago at Windsor in a tight finish with not more than ¾ of a lengths between them as My Oberon finished strongly to get up on the line.
I felt that day Perotto could be marked up for his front-running effort when he possibly over-raced a bit in the early stages. I was hugely impressed how he fought back so gamely once headed, even after being slightly hampered over half a furlong from home. He simply didn’t give up.
He’s no star but a rock solid individual, who has sometimes lacked sharpness out of the gates but clearly responded well to front-running tactics the last time. Cheek-pieces added seem a logical move and hopefully help him to be sharp early. A prominent position on fast ground at the round course is an advantage in my book.
He acts well on fast ground, clearly stays a mile as seen when winning a strongly run Britannia last year and should go well. He’s not the likeliest winner, but certainly overpriced while better fancied horses are priced up according to reputation more so than substance, I feel.
Chindit in particular, who looks a wrong favourite. He hasn’t even cracked a 90 topspeed rating in his last six starts.
10pts win – Perotto @ 12/1
4.45 Ascot: Class 3 Handicap, 1m
Washraa is clearly well handicapped on the basis of her seriously impressive Sandringham Stakes run. She travelled like a good thing, looked likely to come with a big challenge over two furlongs out, but clipped heels, stumbled badly and lost every chance, yet finished in impressive style, nonetheless.
Of course it’s hypothetical how much she would have found with a clear run. Though, I’m pretty certain she would have gone seriously close. She can race off the same mark here, which offers a great opportunity to resume the winning habit she showed in two starts before Royal Ascot.
She improved nicely since her seasonal reappearance, hinting talent already as a juvenile and should have too much talent for this slightly easier race than the rivals she encountered at Royal Ascot.
10pts win – Washraa @ 3/1
5.20 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f
Out From Under is a strong favourite. Only a pound up for his recent very strong Newmarket effort is possibly lenient. At prices I must select the talented filly Tarrabb, though. I reckon she is better than her official rating of 80.
Whether she is already better now, after three career runs, is the key question. She looked raw and very much learning on the job in all her races, nonetheless won really well on debut, wasn’t disgraced when beaten as runner-up subsequently after pulling hard, and lost her race at the gates at Thirsk.
She still very much caught the eye that day in particular, making good progress from the back of the field but not getting a clear run. It’s reasonable to assume she is ahead of her mark. Straight Ascot seven looks an ideal, simple test for the filly.
The race promised so much at the beginning of the week. It has significantly lost in excitement with the loss of some key horses that were expected to run and now go somewhere else for supposedly easier options.
It’s still a good race with six proper thoroughbreds going head to head. Let’s not forget only a few weeks ago Bay Bridge was thought to be the next coming of baby Jesus.
Today he’s a 7/2 shot. I was tempted for a moment when even bigger yesterday afternoon, but can’t get over the fact that his Sandown performance is simply overrated in my view, given the better horses that day weren’t fully tuned up most likely.
Even if taking the performance at face value he achieved a 102 topspeed rating – although it’s not unreasonable to assume he could have ran a bit faster – is far from the best on offer in this field today. He also had every chance at Ascot in my view and failed.
Mishriff is the highest rated horse in the race and a proper star. He’s only returning from a break, though. I doubt the test today, given how the race is likely to pan out, will suit.
Alenquer produced a career best at the Curragh. I rate that performance highly. He could be underestimated today again and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I do wonder about a possibly slow pace for him, though. On fast ground it counts against him.
The two most likely to fight it out in my view are the three-year-olds. Superstar juvenile Native Trail has done little wrong this season . I don’t understand the perception that he is not as good a three-year-old as he was a juvenile when he clearly is. He simply meets stiffer competition this year.
He still impresses me, I must say. His Newmarket performance can be marked up for a variety of reason but he was the best horse in the race in my view and simply unlucky the way the race developed.
He put things right at the Curragh. It wasn’t a flashy performance but he did it in the upmost professional manner. He’s given enough indication to believe a step up in trip can work.
How is the fast ground to suit today? And what about the pace? He can take a bit of time to get going. Not ideal in what shapes like a muddling affair.
It’s the conundrum of the day: pace. Or a lack of it. Who is going to do the donkey work? Most if not all of these want to have something to chase after. This will be a sprint finish.
As unoriginally as it is, the fastest horse is French Derby winner Vadeni. His 109 topspeed rating from Chantilly rates even higher given he was nearly pulled up half a furlong from home.
He’s got a proper turn of foot, can quicken off a slowish pace, and looks a thoroughly uncomplicated ride. The fast ground is the one worry I have. It’s new to him. There’s a significant difference between French good ground (as connections called the PDJC ground) and Sandown fast.
But with the 3-year-old weight allowance in addition to the possibility of more improvement, I can’t look past him, especially at a price that should be probably a point shorter I think.
10pts win – Vadeni @ 9/4
1.50 Sandown: Group 3 Coral Charge, 5f
Equilateral is the a clear top rated choice on any measure for me. The bounce factor is a question mark, however that is already more than reflected in the price. If he’s fine after a huge effort at Royal Ascot and gets a clear run I can’t see him getting beaten.
Equilateral returned from a long lay-off in the King’s Stand Stakes. He travelled beautifully through the race, tracked Nature Strip from over two furlongs out and naturally failed to match the superstar sprinter. He finished a highly credible 5th, though.
That performance was worth a 102 topspeed rating. Just another one in the list of 100+ performances he produced in this career. He looks still strong and fast on the basis of this run and is considerably overpriced.
10pts win – Equilateral @ 11/2
2.25 Sandown: Class 2 Handicap, 1m
It pains me that I can’t back Checkandchallenge because I was really keen on him after his eye-catching Guineas run that was much better than the bare form suggested. I absolutely loved his Newcastle victory too.
At 4/1 on properly fast ground I can’t have him off 108, though. He may be too good and can overcome it, but I have the impression the fast ground won’t be to his advantage.
There is one alternative I have been tracking the whole year already: Trais Fluors. Admittedly the latest Windsor performance has given me pause for thought and I am a little less excited to jump on board. He looked laboured that day. So a clear risk to back when backing him today: what’s his form?
However, the positives outweigh the risks in an open race where he’s certainly handicapped to go close if he finds back to the form previously shown in three runs this season.
He caught the eye on all three of those runs. Desperately unlucky at Thirsk, not a clear passage on his seasonal debut at Newbury before and he made a huge impression from off the pace dominated by those up or closer to it at Redcar, finishing the second half of the race the fastest.
Down to a mark of 85 he’s given a proper chance. He won last summer over course and distance on fast ground off 92. He ran to topspeed 91 that day.
Back at Sandown with De Sousa in the saddle he has a good chance to outrun his price. Whether that’s good enough to win in this hot contest remains to be seen. He needs a bit of “luck” from off the pace. I have him a better shot nonetheless to deliver today.
10pts win – Trais Fluors @ 10/1
6.50 Carlisle: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Twice Adaay has been knocking on the door a couple of times this season over 6 furlongs. She caught my eye in May at Ripon when she moved forward into a prominent position after slightly sluggish start. She lost her position before the two furlong marker as she got behind a wall of horses. She was short of room over one furlong from home again, but finished well enough and easy on the eye.
The drop to the minimum trip is sure to suit, especially with rain forecast. Her best performances came over five furlongs with cut in the ground, so conditions will be perfect.
She is down to a mark off 55, a single pound above her last (and only) winning mark when she took a 5 furlong contest at Beverley last July. She seems to give her best running also on these slightly tricky specialist tracks, as she possesses good balance and should enjoy Carlisle in the rain.
Having ran to topspeeds of 58 (on fibresand though), 56 and 54 on turf, she is reasonably well handicapped, with 5lb claiming Laura Coughlin offering additional assistance.
10pts win – Twice Adaay @ 8/1
7.00 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 6f
Lightly-raced Bibulous makes plenty of appeal here, even though I envision he might be even better over an additional furlong. I still believe even over 6 furlongs he can be better handicapped than the current mark, and his recent finish at Chepstow is a good indication for this notion.
The June race was his seasonal reappearance after a light campaign as a three-year-old with only three runs including an impressive victory at Kempton over 6 furlongs.
At Chepstow he travelled at the rear of the field after a restrained start. He looked to go pretty well, was eventually switched to the stands’ side over two furlongs out where he started his run home. He didn’t have an instant change of gear but it also appeared he didn’t quite enjoy the undulations and especially downhill portion of the course.
However once balanced he rattled home much the strongest suggesting that there’s more to come on a slightly more conventional straight sprint course. He remains on the same 68 handicap mark, which is more than fair I reckon. He already ran to a 67 topspeed last season. Any improvement will see him hard to beat.
Thrave shaped really well a number of times ever since being rather unlucky at Beverley in May. He ran well on three subsequent occasions, and his most recent run at this track over the shorter 7 furlongs suggested he’s ready to win.
That day he found himself in a tight spot and squeezed out soon after the start, then relegated to the rear of the field. He weaved his way through as the only one truly coming from off the pace, and finished much the strongest.
He’s clearly well capable of winning off 65 over a mile, particularly in this slightly easier race. He goes really well over this course and distance, having gone close off 3lb higher last September, running to topspeed 67 too then.
10pts win – Thrave @ 9/1
3.55 Doncaster: 1m 6.5f
Interesting little race that should be a solid stamina test given the pace chart. I think that will really suit handicap debutant Havaila who ran really well earlier this month in a strong maiden over 12 furlongs.
He was quite green in his first two career runs but showed more professionalism at Salisbury. He’s not one who does things quickly, though. Nonetheless he stuck to the task nicely behind two solid horses in first and second.
He ran to topspeed 75 that day, so his opening mark of 76 provides a good opportunity if he can progress for experience and distance.
The step up to this new trip will surely suit. The visuals are backed up by the pedigree as he’s out of Waila who was a smart mare over 12-14 furlongs.
10pts win – Havaila @ 3/1
8.20 Newcastle: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
By Your Side could still be well handicapped after recent turf exploits now back on the All-Weather, but the drop to 7 furlongs is a concern. Hence a proper alternative is Key Look who shaped the last time at Catterick like a winner in the making.
That day Key Look was one of the slower starters, settled in rear, travelled pretty okay, but had still only one rival behind turning for home.
She made excellent progress on the inside in the home straight until short of room about 1.5 furlongs from home. As a consequence she lost momentum, had to regain full effort, which she didn’t quite manage, but also wasn’t ask to do so. Yet finished nicely under hands and heels giving impression there was more left in the tank.
She ran well a number of times in defeat in recent weeks. Now a pound below her last winning mark she makes plenty of appeal, especially as her last victory came over the Newcastle CD. Having a solid 5lb claimer in the saddle is an added bonus.
Vaynor was quite impressive winning at Bath when stepping up to 14 furlongs for the first time. The improvement wasn’t down to the trip in isolation I feel, but probably was a combination of distance and surface/going.
The surface stays the same, the ground should be fast here at Newmarket, while the drop to 12 furlongs doesn’t worry me. He showed plenty of tactical speed a Bath in what looks solid form, given those behind him ran well in the meantime.
The way he accelerated in the home straight and kicked clear suggested he has enough speed for the shorter trip.
Possibly the penny has dropped too. He was fancied a number of times, although never justified the support in the betting in three starts on the All-Weather this year.
He ran to topspeed 65 at Bath, can race off 67 today, but will go up another two pounds in the future. Given there is potentially more to come in these circumstances he a highly compelling proposition from a handicapping perspective.
10pts win – Vaynor @ 7/2
4.40 Nottingham: H&H Apprentice Handicap, 1m 6f
This type of race wouldn’t be my cup of tea normally but Master Grey looks to have a good chance to outrun his price here. Form wise he must be in with a big shout and he certainly gets the trip.
He’s one who can catch the eye often when staying on late without winning. He made another of those noteworthy efforts earlier this month when he came from a long way back to finish 5th at Bath.
He’s got the same apprentice rider on board here, who’s pretty solid and looks value for his 5lb claim in this sort of race.
Master Grey strikes me as the horse you can ride hands and heels and he’ll just stay on and on and on. Which looks a good match for this race with potentially a lot of early speed and many inexperienced riders who may judge things wrong.
My hope is Oliver Searle will judge things right, have Master Grey in a position where he’s not have to travel home from as far as another galaxy and then pick them off in the home straight.
10pts win – Master Grey @ 10.5
6.15 Leicester: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f
Going against a well fancied Haggas handicap debutant isn’t often a smart thing to do but I think bottom-weight Malcolm has nearly as good a chance to win in this rather uncompetitive affair.
Malcolm wasn’t fancied at all on his turf- and handicap debut earlier this month after showing nothing in three starts before. He returned from a break and gelding operation too.
He travelled well in the rear of the field, made a nice move from over 4 furlongs out on the outside getting alongside the actual winner, who eventually quickens a bit better. Malcolm isn’t helped by a rival to his side bumping and pushing him toward the inside at a crucial stage. He still manages to finish 3rd in the end.
This was probably quite a good race for this class that should work out well. With a clearer run Malcolm would have finished even closer and wouldn’t have been allowed to race off the same mark today. With a strong claimer in the saddle he looks weighted for a massive run.
10pts win – Malcolm @ 6.2
7.15 Leicester: Class 5 Handicap. 6f
The key question for Tyson is obviously how he handles the start and the early phase of the race. He’s a temperamental sort but clearly talented.
He showed some promise as a juvenile, entering his 3-year-old season potentially a bit exposed already. He’s yet to go close in three starts this year, but showed more than the bare form suggests I firmly believe.
Especially last time at Kempton when heavily bumped out of the gates, consequently lit up and way too keen he showed a nice change of gear in the home straight, but ultimately paid for racing way to inefficiently.
He drops another 3lb in his mark and looks certainly dangerous off 75 in this field.
10pts win – Tyson @ 9.2
9.00 Hamilton: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Macho Pride ran well the last two times; he finished a solid fifth in a strong contest at Pontefract after a narrow runner-up performance in a hot Haydock sprint, when he had make a highly inefficient move to the outside of the field to get a run which possibly cost him victory.
He drops down to class 6 today, on the same mark as back in April, 8 pounds lower than his last winning mark.
He clearly is in pretty good form; perhaps not quite as good when a 1.5 lengths beaten fifth in class 4 at Haydock in September off a mark off 80, running to topspeed 75. But down to a 67 rating, with a useful 3lb claimer in the saddle he must have a strong chance to add a third career success.
Those at the top of the market have to defy career-highest marks while bottom-weight Brilliant Blue has been dropped 2lb since his eye-catching run over course and distance a few weeks ago.
That day he had an awkward start but wasn’t help by the isolated #1 draw. He was about to move forward when hampered on the inside around the 6 furlong marker and subsequently quite keen.
I thought he made excellent progress from three furlongs out and looked like he’d have a big say in the finish, until fading away. That was his seasonal reappearance. Possible lack of race fitness and mid-race keenness may have been the contributing factor to a lackluster finish.
There is a solid chance he’s better than that run and has a bit to offer off a 76 mark. He showed promise as a juvenile in two races in Autumn – the form worked out well as he finished around some higher rated individuals – before flopping on the All-Weather.
The mile trip shouldn’t be an issue on pedigree. Tongue tie is on for the first time. A combination of that with added race fitness and potentially the better ground helpful too can see him go close.
This is going to be the coronation of Bay Bridge, right? It feels like it, reading all the previews and various opinion pieces this morning – the Sir Michael Stoute trained colt only has to turn up, do a lap of honour in the pre-parade ring and Group 1 glory is his.
Now, who am I to dare and say I know better than fabulous experts like Simon Rowlands who is quite strong about Bay Bridge in his piece. No question about it, Bay Bridge is a potential superstar.
His Brigadier Gerard victory by five lengths easy as you like – awarded a 102 topspeed rating; he could have ran faster that day, if he would been asked to do so. These are the signs of potential superstar. No denying.
But from a betting perspective I have to be cynical and try to see if there are any holes to be found in the odds-on shot. And there certainly are.
For one: Bay Bridge steps up to Group 1 company for the first time. He hasn’t been to Ascot before, certainly not encountered a unique atmosphere as the Royal Ascot meeting provides, and whether he truly can be at his very best on proper fast ground remains to be seen.
These are only small question marks. And I am pushing it hard to find faults. Nonetheless, this edition of the POW – albeit small in field size – is highly competitive. And I feel there is value in the market behind Bay Bridge.
The Japanese Derby- and Sheema Classic winner Shahryar is proven top-class. Perhaps more so over the 1m 4f trip, which makes him vulnerable on fast ground in small field, potentially. Regardless, he’s one to respect.
The only filly in the race, Grand Glory, looked strong in two starts this spring. Fast ground is a question mark, but she clearly performs really well over 10 furlongs.
Lord North ran a fine race in defeat at the Curragh recently. The Tattersalls Gold Cup was an ultra-competitive affair and he ran to topspeed 104, not too far off a 107 rated performance when winning the Dubai Turf in March, or a 104 when runner-up in the Winter Derby, and also not far off his career best 110, suggesting he’s still running close to his best form at the age of six.
Undoubtedly the main rival for Bay Bridge I see in Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest, though. He’s had a number of tough races this year already, and that’s a question mark. Most recently at the Curragh when finishing one better than Lord North. But connections say the colt thrives on racing and is a hardy sort. He clearly must be, if you read through his form.
In my view he enhanced his reputation with the third place effort in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. He travelled much the best approaching the home straight, perhaps was asked a little bit too late for full effort, though. That gave the eventual winner Alenquer an advantage. State Of Rest finished the last three furlongs fastest and on another day wins the race, I believe.
The 4-year-old seriously impressed me on different occasions. His Saratoga Derby victory last year, doing it in a canter, despite having to overcome some trouble; his gusty Cox Plate success. The brilliant win at Longchamp in the Prix Ganay six weeks ago.
And he looks still improving. Topspeed 102 at Longchamp, 107 at the Curragh. Yes, this isn’t always a totally accurate reflection of performance, but it’s one I do trust to the most part.
With that in mind State Of Rest sets a high standard that Bay Bridge first has to run to. Not to forget that State Of Rest is probably at his best on fast ground. Exactly what he encounters today.
Therefore at given prices I can’t miss out on backing the proper Group 1 horse against a favourite where all potential improvement is more than factored into the price already – before we have truly seen it delivered on the race course.
10pts win – State Of Rest @ 8.4
4.20: Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, 1m
It was impossible not be totally in awe with the way Bashkirova won at Ascot. She didn’t have the perfect race but found a way to win. Despite hanging a bit she kicked clear in the closing stages in impressive style, running to a 108 topspeed rating.
She improved nicely from an excellent seasonal reappearance at Goodwood, when a close runner-up after a fine juvenile campaign that saw her win three of four starts. She look still improving and I reckon might enjoy this more conventional track even more so than Epsom.
Backing up so quickly is always a concern, but if she runs to the same level of form she’s hard to beat today, I firmly believe. Thanks to that Epsom performance she owns the fastest topspeed in the field, by quite a bit. The competition in this Group 2 contest today is solid but not frightening.
Saffron Beach carries a penalty and never ran to anything better than topspeed 90. She’s a Group 1 winner and ran with credit at Meydan. I don’t see the appeal at current odds, though.
Mother Earth is hard to trust these days. Primo Bacio hasn’t won since impressing at York last May, but never looked able to bring that sport of form to the next level subsequently.
German raider Novemba has obvious claims judged by her Coronation Cup performance from last year. Her runner-up effort behind Real World last October is also noteworthy. She was desperately disappointing on her return three weeks ago though. Sibila Spain perhaps wants a longer trip, especially on fast ground.
Everything brings me back to Bashkirova. Perhaps beside the quick turnaround, the wide draw is another slight concern as well as potentially a lack of pace, unless Novema and Saffron Beach do the donkey work. Nonetheless, she looks a cut above these.