The calm before the storm? We’re only four days away from the greatest flat meeting in the world in Royal Ascot but we’ve still got seven races this weekend from Sandown, York, and a sole handicap from Chester beamed to us by ITV. The ground will be fast at all three meetings so here are my expert horse racing tips to beat the bookies this Saturday.
The York racecard kicks off with the Queen Mother’s Cup run over 1M 4F, a handicap for female amateur riders only. As always in this race we have a good-sized field of 15. Adrian Paul Keatley has booked crack Irish amateur Miss Jodie Townend, sister of Paul and has as good a chance as any here having won over course and distance last month. The six-year-old has actually won a half-decent handicap hurdle at Market Rasen since and should be thereabouts. Last year’s winning jockey Miss Alice Stevens rides Ian William’s Dream Harder who was a bit unlucky under William Buick at Chester last time although has to prove himself on very fast ground.
One horse who does look particularly well handicapped on his National Hunt form is the Brian Ellison-trained Impulsive One who’s rated as high as 131 over timber when trained by Nicky Henderson and reverts back to the flat now rated just 79 so using the old theory of 40lb between the two codes puts him in here with a big shout. He’s my tentative each-way bet in this wide-open handicap.
IMPULSIVE ONE 1 point each way @ 12/1 with Bet365 bonus code (Paying top 4 places at 1/5 odds)
Thirteen go to post for this 1M class 2 0-100 handicap. It has an open look about it although if there is one horse who may just be ahead of his mark here it’s probably one of the two three-year-olds in the contest down the bottom of the handicap in Charlie Hills’ Bodorgan. He made his handicap/re-appearance debut in the valuable Betfred Silver Bowl at Haydock last month. Despite finding trouble in running finished 5th beaten 4 3/4L to the well-supported favourite Covey. But for finding trouble two out he may well have been placed and off of the same mark and with champion jockey William Buick booked is the one to be with here. The only slight negative is his draw in stall 10 of 13 but I’m sure Buick will have a plan and can overcome that wide draw.
The other three-year-old Zu Run, trained by Andrew Balding and ridden by Oisin Murphy is drawn even wider than the selection but has place claims along with the likes of Helm Rock (drawn even wider in 13) and Baltimore Boy who finished just behind him at Ascot in a boys race last time. Ryan Moore takes the ride for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained New Dimension which is always interesting although we haven’t seen him for 293 days.
One horse that’s worth keeping an eye on here is the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained First View who we haven’t seen since the Dubai Carnival 127 days ago.
BODORGAN 2 points win @ 4/1 with Betfred promo code
A competitive class 3 7F 0-95 handicap for three-year-olds and upwards has attracted 13 runners.
Darkness, trained by David O’Meara hasn’t won since joining O’Meara from France some 14 starts ago but has been knocking on the door recently having just been claimed close home at Goodwood last time and off of the same mark and has to be on the shortlist.
Saeed Bin Suroor’s Wild Lion is an interesting runner in first-time cheek pieces and is best watched closely in the market after a 113-day layoff whilst Geoffrey Harker’s veteran ten-year-old Scottish Summit arrives in excellent form and despite his age shouldn’t be dismissed.
The only three-year-old in the race is Richard Fahey’s Indian Falcon who is yet another with claims.
A wide-open contest where bets should be kept to a minimum and I’ll take a chance on the Godolphin runner Wild Lion who although yet to win on the turf in five attempts is still lightly raced enough to make a mark under Kieran O’Neill.
WILD LION 1/2 point each way @ 8/1 with Bet365 (Paying top 4 places at 1/5 odds)
Only nine have declared for this listed Milton Colts Scurry Stakes to be run over 5F for three-year-olds only. The draw is not as important as days gone by, although I feel drawn on the rail on the far side (low numbers) is the place to be.
Richard Fahey’s Great State has to shoulder a 3lb penalty for his listed success at York last month when defeating Pillow Talk by 2 1/2L although the runner-up that day has been soundly beaten since by one of his opponents today in the shape of George Boughey’s Perdika who is the other runner here to carry a 3lb penalty having won a listed contest at Chantilly in France a fortnight ago. My worry with her is that she appears to have been kept away from very fast ground although to be fair to her that latest victory did come on good ground.
I’m keen to take the pair of them on with the highly promising Roger Varian-trained, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned Tajalla. He’s unbeaten in two starts at Newmarket 14 months ago on his debut and when re-appearing at Hamilton six weeks ago when making hard work of it to scrape home from Silent Words (4th to Great State since). That form alone will probably not be good enough here but it was his first start for 388 days and must surely have benefited from the outing and with David Egan on board can improve to take this valuable sprint.
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The 1M 6F Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup is a listed contest which has attracted just seven runners. The winner here gets an automatic entry in The Ebor over course and distance in July.
The best in here at these weights is Hughie Morrison’s Quickthorn who is more than capable especially if given an easy lead as he was in last year’s Lonsdale Cup at the Ebor meeting when beating current Gold Cup favourite Coltrane by 14L over 2M. There was nothing wrong with his 4th in the Yorkshire Cup over course and distance last time with the horse that at he finished just behind him Siskany winning a Grade 2 in North America since.
His main danger here will be the John & Thady Gosden-trained Israr who has claims to be the best-bred horse running anywhere today being by Muhaarar out of the great mare Taghrooda who won the Oaks and the King George at Ascot. His runner-up last time to Haskoy in the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes at Newbury was a decent effort and she steps up to 1M 6F for the first time today.
Roberto Escobar won this race two years ago and bounced back to form when winning the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown races over two miles last month. That was a weak renewal of the race and he has to carry a 5lb penalty here which will make it tough. This can be fought out by Israr and Quickthorn with preference marginally for the latter who may just get an easy lead.
QUICKTHORN 1 point win @ 2/1 with Paddy Power promo code
A valuable 7F 127 yards class 2 three-year-old only handicap is up next which, as always at Chester racecourse, the draw is highly significant.
The current favourite Man Of Eden is due to run on Friday evening at Goodwood so there is a big possibility that he won’t turn up prompting a rule 4. He was an eye-catcher last time at Goodwood and were he to rock up here would be a player from stall 6.
William Haggas has hit a rich vein of form this week with an across-the-card treble on Wednesday and his Tafreej has shown enough in two handicap starts this season to warrant plenty of respect here under Cieren Fallon.
It’s hard to fancy those drawn out very wide as they have a mountain to climb before even leaving the gate so from a punting view we can put a line through the likes of Venetian (drawn 12), Saxon King (10) and In These Shoes (11).
The bottom weight Sophia’s Starlight is the one to be with here from an attractive draw in stall 2. She’s a carefree front runner who can take a hold but showed last time at Wetherby (and earlier this season at Wolverhampton) that she can be very effective if allowed to get on the front end and clock her own fractions. She did it well at Wetherby from the front in a time 0.91 secs faster than the older horse handicap later on the card and off of just a 3lb higher mark we look sure to get a decent run for our money from the Grant Tuer trained, Nick Bradley owned filly.
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The feature race of the day is the Oakmere Homes Supporting Macmillan Sprint Handicap, a 6F handicap for three-year-olds only rated 0-105. It’s a wide-open renewal this year with bookmakers currently betting 7-1 on the field.
Kevin Ryan saddles a trio of horses with chances including Quintus Arrius, a winner at Hamilton last time and now 6lb higher and Washington Heights whose form ties in nicely with the five-timer chasing Quinault trained by Stuart Williams. The former is actually 4lb better off for a length with Quinault so there shouldn’t be much between that pair.
The only horse in the field who has future Group entries is Jane Chapple-Hyam’s top weight Mill Stream who was a progressive juvenile but was well beaten on his re-appearance in the Sandy Lane at Haydock and there may be doubts as to whether he’s even trained on. Charlie Hills’ Shadwell-owned colt Rabaah is also making his handicap debut following two impressive victories on the all-weather and wasn’t disgraced when 5th to the improving Shaquille in listed company at Newbury last month. He had horses rated 106 and 100 behind him that day when dead heating for 5th place with the 117-rated Noble Style so an initial mark of 97 may actually be lenient if that run can be believed.
It’s a wide-open contest with chances for many but I’ll take a chance that Jim Crowley’s mount Rabaah is well enough in to beat his rivals.
RABAAH 1 point each way @ 10/1 with BetVictor (Paying top 5 places at 1/5 odds)
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.
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