Competition for the pace doesn’t look too hot, which brings Dion Baker right into the equation, who drops down to 7 furlongs on his polytrack debut.
He is still a maiden but ran with credit a number of times; in fact he was arguably unlucky not to win at either Catterick, or subsequently on his Handicap debut at Haydock.
On both occasions he hang his chances away, otherwise he’d have a W to his name, I reckon.
Dion Baker ran well enough three weeks ago at Newmarket in softish conditions over a mile, just fading entering the final furlong. Given his early gate speed he should have no issues getting to the lead from the #1 draw here.
As he drops in class, he should find this race a bit easier, and has shown he has the quality to win off a 72 mark. He has the early speed and potentially the bit of extra stamina to keep it up right to the line.
10pts win – Dion Baker @ 9.2
8.15 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 3f
Arab Cinder caught the eye a few times now and looks ripe to win a race, stepping another furlong on her second start for William Knight.
She did well over shorter trips for Roger Varian, seriously catching the eye at Wolverhampton over 7 furlongs in May. With a clear run she would have gone really close as she had to contend with the widest draw, and found herself severely hampered in her challenge in the home straight.
Her subsequent final start for the Varian yard at Goodwood was better than the bare for suggests. When last seen four weeks ago on her first start for new connections, Arab Cinder caught the eye when finishing well in the closing stages.
She has enough stamina for this new trip as a full-sister to 1m 6f winner on the All-Weather. Three pounds lower than her excellent Wolverhampton run and down in class she rates a major chance in this field from a good draw.
I have been waiting for Lory to run in a suitable race ever since her move to the UK. In my view she ran better than the two forms suggest since switching from Andre Fabre to Julie Camacho back in May.
She showed good early speed on both occasions, albeit racing way too freely over 7 furlongs and subsequently 6 furlongs as well. Nonetheless, the Wolverhampton run looks quite good on form terms and the way she travelled for a long time after a long break was encouraging.
Obviously, she didn’t fulfill expectations in France. Fancied on her first two career starts as a juvenile in the famous blue Godolphin colours, she caught the eye on both occasions, though. Things didn’t quite go to plan both times but it looked obvious there is some talent.
A drop to the minimum trip on soft ground could certainly suit here. The wind operation suggests not all was right lately. With that in mind there is every chance she can improve quite a bit with those issues hopefully put to bed and race conditions possibly to her advantage. Certainly she could be good enough to win a race as poor as this.
In saying that, Proclivity also caught the eye a few starts back and find ideal conditions here. She’s the main danger. I go with Lory for the reason that I believe she offers more upside.
10pts win – Lory @ 11/2
8.30 Kempton: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 3f
Bottom-weight Picual looks potentially well-handicapped in this field. The lightly raced filly seriously caught the eye on her first two runs in Handicap company.
She thundered home in impressive style when she got off the mark at Nottingham – she won only by a neck but with much more authority than the winning margin would tell.
Next time at Sandown she was desperately unlucky. She trailed the field, the eventual winner went from the front and got first run; she endured a troubled passage and only got out late to finish second.
The handicapper hasn’t been harsh, thankfully. She is only 2lb up for the effort, and only 6lb altogether since Nottingham – form that has worked out really well.
Picual looked still learning on the job in all her runs. She is prone to miss the start, which is a concern. In this small field it may not be too much of an issue, though. The additional furlong looks sure to suit.
Rocchigiani caught the eye twice this year. Now stepping up to a mile again he looks the one to beat in this contest in my eyes, hence I am delighted with the odds on offer.
The German raider always tracked the pace and travelled pretty well until 2.5 furlongs from home in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. He couldn’t move forward with horses right in front of him but also appeared flat footed when gaps opened up. He ran on nicely in the closing stages for a solid 5th place finish, though.
He had to give about three pounds of weight away to the majority of the field that day. No easy task, even less so on fast ground and 7 furlongs. Clearly the test was too sharp, but equally clearly he came out with his reputation enhanced.
Earlier the season he would have been a runaway winner of the German 2000 Guineas, if not for the exciting Maljoom. Rocchigiani was always right on the speed and kicked on as soon as he entered the home straight. He had the entire field off the bridle; only the late finishing Maljoom got to him in the end.
The fast ground at Goodwood is a slight question mark. Although, it wasn’t slow at Cologone either, so I’m hopeful it won’t be too much of an issue for him here.
10pts win – Rocchigiani @ 13/2
6.30 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Scale Force finished a few weeks ago over the minimum trip at Wolverhampton in a manner that suggested he’s ready to win. He had a troubled run, which started with usual poor start, and was short of room over a furlong out at a crucial stage.
Down to a mark of 56 now, he’s possibly quite well handicapped, given he performed strongly off higher marks earlier this year, most notably off a 66 mark over 5 furlongs at Wolverhampton in February when he finished half a lengths beaten in third, and his topspeed matched his mark.
If he doesn’t mess up the start this time he should be a prime chance to win, especially with the valuable 5lb claim of Aiden Keeley in the saddle.
Red Evelyn ran a big race from the front for the most part over a mile the last time at Yarmouth when fading in the end to finish a good third behind a well handicapped LTO winner and wasn’t knocked about it when it became clear better than third isn’t possible on the day, possibly with another day in mind.
This day should be here at Wolverhampton. Perfect conditions for the 4-year-old filly who was placed twice in three attempts over this course and distance in the past off higher marks.
She can attack the race from the pimp slot with Kirby in the saddle. She stays a mile, given her sole career victory came over that trip, but her best performances all came over the shorter 7 furlongs distance.
She ran twice to topspeeds above her current handicap mark, both times at Lingfield on the polytrack over 7f. She also was only a neck beaten off 58 at Wolverhampton over 7f furlongs. This year alone on the All-Weather she now ran to topspeeds of 53 (2x) and 57. She’s ready to win.
I must say the market looks a bit iffy for the race with a big discrepancy between mainstream bookies and exchanges. That might change during the day but I can only go by what my eyes tell me and that is this filly won’t get many better chances to get her head in front.
My selections didn’t ran badly, especially 30/1 shot Airways Law produced a huge performance from the back off the field finishing 6th against a slow pace.
But nobody in the race stood a chance against super filly Sparkling Water. Largely, that must be said, because all other jockeys were outridden by brilliant S’manga Khumalo, who maximised the chance of his mount by doing absolutely everything right.
Obviously he’s got a bit of history in the race. Khumalo is a legitimate word-class jockey. He must have studied the pace scenario really well and had a match plan that was executed to perfection. A slow pace was always likely to happen and that would significantly hamper the chances of those at the back of the field.
Sparkling Water was drawn in #12. Not ideal but not a big problem either. Khumalo pushed the filly out of the gates and crossed over towards the inside rail in an instant. The race was only a few seconds old but the winning move was already done.
From there on Sparkling Water travelled smoothly, always handy, with a clear passage, and Khumalo, knowing the filly stays all day and night, committed as soon as they reached the home straight. Two furlongs from home he called on everything and the filly responded. Once she hit the front she wasn’t for catching. It was beautiful to watch.
The master that is Mike De Kock was sweet on Sparkling Water’s chances all week. He told everyone who dared to ask. Quite how she could go off 16/1 is a mystery. She was more than half the price only a few days earlier.
I didn’t spot this large drift either. But I also didn’t rate her chances. In my mind she was a stayer. Too slow in this field of top-class 10 furlong horses in a race that was sure to be run at a pedestrian pace. I didn’t account for the magic S’manga Khumalo produced in the saddle on the day.
Safe Passage didn’t have the best of trips. He’s better than that but also tired late and probably doesn’t want to go beyond 10 furlongs ideally. Jet Dark ran a massive race in 2nd. Ridden like a non-stayer, he saw it out strong from off the pace.
Two-times champion Do It Again ran his usual strong race. Last years winner Kommetdieding also finished with plenty of credit in 5th place off a big weight. Under WFA terms, wherever he goes next, he’ll be once again the horse to beat.
Linebacker encountered a miserable trip. Heavily bumped early on, he got hampered turning for home again. Pomp And Power was backed into favouritism, pulled his chances away as expected.
In summary: I didn’t back the winner but hugely enjoyed the build-up to the July and it was an entertaining race as well. The Durban July is one of my favourite races of the entire year. it proved it all again in 2022.
4.37 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 2f
This looks like a matchup between Lituus and and Acoustic on paper. The Grant Tuer horse may improve for the trip after an encouraging recent effort, but doesn’t appear generously handicapped on balance.
Acoustic in contract off 49 may well be. He’s yet to run particularly fast, a best topspeed of 46 is nothing to shout about. But he looks sure to improve for the additional furlong, having nearly gotten back to the eventual winner over the slightly shorter 9 furlongs at Hamilton the last time.
He was right up with the pace from the start, came under pressure from over three furlongs out, but kept going. Headed 1.5 furlongs from home, you would have expected him to fade away, but instead he rallied back strongly in the final furlong.
Acoustic clearly has every chance to stay 10 furlongs anyway, given he is out of a Singspiel mare. He also appears to be in fine shape, having been an eyecatcher two back at Weatherby when completely messing up at the start in first time blinkers.
10pts win – Acoustic @ 5/1
5.12 Ayr: Classified Stakes, 1m
I like both Bankawi and Hello Power. Both caught my eye the last times, although Hello Power on more occasions. The WFA weight swing tips the balance to the filly, who has drifted a bit to a price that’s too big now.
The three-year-old is still quite unexposed on turf but show clear signs of acting on the surface when impressing in the middle section of her recent Doncaster run. She faded into third but only because she was asked way too much too early.
This significant change of gear she showed there hints a bit of talent, though, at least on this modest level. I quite liked her gutsy Southwell victory earlier in the year and thought she was a bit unlucky not finish closer last time out at Wolverhampton.
The fact she got going again after hampered over 1 furlong out proves her nice attitude.
The question mark is whether she can stretch out over a mile. Her pedigree gives her a chance. The way she finishes her races too. I doubt there’ll be a mad pace on, which will help. Although I hope they won’t drop her in and race settle in midfield not too far off the pace.
Dreaming drops in class and will have a better chance to produce a competitive performance over this trip than the big price suggests, I think.
The three-year-old gelding is still quite unexposed over trips beyond 6 furlongs as well as on turf. He also comes down to a good mark, after having excuses this year on a number of occasions.
He was heavily bumped right out of the gates at Kempton the last time, subsequently didn’t look comfortable and never landed a blow, although this was quite a strong class 4 Handicap, too.
He seriously caught the eye two back at the same course over 7 furlongs, when he was caught wide giving ground away all the time; after hitting a flat spot he rattled home much the strongest in the closing stages, suggesting the trip won’t be an issue and a mile isn’t out of question either.
He tried the 8 furlongs distance once, on his seasonal debut at Newmarket where he stumbled badly over two furlongs from home.
I don’t like to make excuses repeatedly for a horse but feel this lad is better than what he has shown this year. The market isn’t fond of him, but he’s a totally wrong price if on a going day, with the 3lb claim of Georgia Dobie rather useful too.
10pts win – Dreaming @ 19.5
8.10 Newbury: Class 5 Handicap, 7f
I am tracking the filly Ebtsama since her eyecatching February runner-up effort at Southwell. She caught the eye a number of times subsequently, yet the right day to back her didn’t materalise, yet.
Today looks a solid opportunity. She has no hope according to the betting but that couldn’t be further from the truth, if – and that’s the key – she can settle.
The hood is on and has to make a difference, especially over this trip. It’s not a given that there’s a blistering pace today, and that’s a clear danger to her chances. She may pull her race away as she has done on a number of occasions before. However, 7 furlongs should be, in theory, the ideal trip.
Ebtsama is completely unexposed on turf, apart from a promising Newmarket debut last year in June. She raced on the All-Weather ever since. She pulled way too hard last time out at Kempton but produced a nice change of gear in the home straight, which petered out as she ran out of energy, nonetheless giving the impression she has got talent.
She gave this impression in her other three starts this year too. The aforementioned runner-up performance at Southwell looks good with the form franked, and she was unlucky the next time at Lingfield, not getting a clear run, which was also the story at Wolverhampton. On that evidence alone she should/could/would be any number of pounds higher in the ratings today if things would have gone more her way.
Down to a mark of 71, she takes on older rivals for the first time today. As bottom-weight I think she has a good opportunity today to be competitive as long as she settles.