A terrific afternoon’s racing with the ITV team brings us four quality races from Newbury with the feature race the Lockinge Stakes at 15:35 and another three handicaps from an interesting card at Newmarket. The ground is drying and should ride perfectly good ground at both tracks. Here are my best racing tips to beat the bookies.
We start the afternoon’s racing off we an eight-runner renewal of the 6F listed BetVictor Carnarvon Stakes. A warm favourite here is the Charlie Appleby-trained Noble Style who reverts to sprinting having failed to stay a mile when running credibly in finishing 6th, beaten 5 1/2L, to Chaldean in the 2000 Guineas a fortnight ago. Unbeaten as a two-year-old including the Gimcrack at York sprinting may be his game and as he is officially rated 7lb and upwards better than his opposition he can strike under William Buick. The two improvers against him are the Charlie Hills-trained Rabaah who’s looked a useful sort in winning at 6F at Lingfield and Wolverhampton earlier this year on the all weather. This is however a big step up in grade (he’s officially rated 27lb inferior to Noble Style) and whilst he can run well he’s unlikely to trouble the favourite. The other improver is the Julie Camacho trained Shaquille. Camacho has a proven touch with her sprinters but he too has to step up from his latest handicap win which came on soft ground at the Guineas meeting at Newmarket.
Maybe the biggest threat to Noble Style is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Aesop’s Fable who on official ratings only has 7lb to find but this should really be Noble Style’s to lose and he can win here and put himself in pole position for his next target the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot next month for which he’s currently a top priced 6/1 for. It’s probably worth taking that 6/1 as if, as I expect, he wins well here then his odds for Royal Ascot are likely to tumble.
NOBLE STYLE 3 points win @ 10/11 Betfred
NOBLE STYLE 2 points win @ 6/1 bet365 (Commonwealth Cup, Royal Ascot, June 23rd)
The first of three handicaps shown by ITV this afternoon is the class 4 1M 0-85 contest which has attracted 11 runners. John and Thady Gosden saddle an interesting runner in the handicap debutant Ceanna, a winner of a Southwell novice stakes back in December. Her owner George Strawbridge is over from his base in America to watch the likes of Free Wind and Epictetus at York so one would think the filly will be tuned up for this. Sean Woods’s Gulmarg ran a decent third at the last meeting here and with the winner winning well at Chester since should run well along with William Haggas’s Good Gracious whose Newcastle class 5 handicap win last October has worked out well with the runner-up and third both winning since.
Andrew Balding’s Totnes was back to form on the all-weather last time at Lingfield but has been re-assessed and is now 5lb higher. It will be interesting to see how she handles the turf today under David Probert.
The horse I like is the Harry and Roger Charlton-trained Acotango. The Charltons are having a rather lean time of it currently with 42 runs and 118 days since their last winner but they’ve had many placed recently with five runner-ups in the past fortnight so stable form isn’t too much of a concern. The horse ran a stormer following a gelding operation when a one-length second to the progressive Racingbreaks Ryder at Haydock, form which has been franked by subsequent wins by the winner and the third. A 3lb rise may not be enough to stop him putting the Charltons back in the winners enclosure.
ACOTANGO 1 points each way @ 9/2 bet365 (Places – 1234 1/5th)
Seven go to post for the Group 3 Al Rayyan Stakes (known as The Aston Park Stakes to us of a certain age!). Like the Carnarvon Stakes previously we have a warm Godolphin favourite in the globe-trotting Yibir. Not seen for 317 days he is the clear form horse with a rating of 119 which is 9lb and upwards better than any of his six rivals.
A reproduction of his Princess Of Wakes Group 2 win last July would be good enough to win this but his record following an absence of more than 100 days reads 332 and although he’s the best horse here first time out may not be the best time to be with him, especially at such a short price.
So who can we take him on with? The most obvious is the Ralph Beckett-trained, Frankie Dettori-ridden filly Haskoy who was very lightly raced as a three-year-old winning twice and finishing a highly credible 4th in the St Leger. She has her tongue-tied down here and with the Beckett team amongst the winners recently and running at a 24% win ratio she’ll do for me. Andrew Balding saddles his mightily impressive dual all-weather winner Old Harrovian who missed Chester last week due to softening ground but surely this is a step too far too early for him. He’s officially rated 25lb behind Yibir and what a shame his trainer couldn’t send him down the handicap route!
The Gosdens run Israr who also missed Chester due to soft terrain whilst William Haggas re-introduces the promising Gaassee who hadn’t been seen since flopping in last year’s Ebor in August.
HASKOY 1 point win @ 4/1 William Hill
A eleven runner 0-105 three-year-old handicap is up next and is a race well worth following over the forthcoming months. Roger Varian’s Revenite is an interesting runner making his handicap debut following wins at Ascot and Kempton last September and is worth monitoring in the market. Kevin Ryan has been amongst the winners this week at York and saddles his Washington Heights who was runner-up in a similar handicap over course and distance at the Guineas meeting. Better ground today may well suit and he has claims along with the unexposed Ararat, trained by David Simcock who’s making his handicap debut and doesn’t look that badly treated here with his latest second at Wolverhampton back in November franked by subsequent wins for the 4th and 5th from that race.
The Kevin Philippart De Foy trained Expert Angel has been making hay on the all-weather this year winning three times over this trip rising some 17lb and it remains to be seen how he copes reverting back to turf where he’s 0 from 3.
My pick however is the Clive Cox-trained Eminency who was unlucky in the run when last seen at Kempton in April in not getting a clear run up the inside and finishing with plenty of running in him. Off of the same mark and already proven on decent turf ground (he was pulled out on soft ground at the last meeting) he looks the bet here although I will reduce my stake as the Cox team are not in the best of form at the moment going 17 days and 30 runs since his last winner.
EMINENCY 1 point win @ 3/1 BetVictor
An excellent renewal of the three-year-old handicap the BetVictor London Gold Cup run over 10F of the round course and a race that will be worth following over the forthcoming months. The weights are headed by the Godolphin-owned Bold Act who surprisingly has been gelded since taking a keen hold and flopping at Newmarket at the Craven meeting. He has it to do here giving weight away to some promising types.
Aidan O’Brien sends over Bertinelli who is still in the Derby and is making his handicap debut here. He could be competitive under Ryan Moore.
Roger Varian saddles Exoplanet who has some fancy entries of his own and ran into the smart Military Order on his re-appearance here on soft ground and wasn’t disgraced in finishing a 4L second with Thursday’s winner Chesspiece just behind in third. He’s one for the shortlist although a draw of 16 is hardly a plus.
Royal Rhyme bolted up at the Newmarket Guineas meeting but both of his two career wins have come on soft ground and the drying conditions may not be ideal.
Desert Hero is a must for any shortlist having been entered in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot recently (also still holds a Derby entry as well). This is his handicap debut having won at Haydock and Redcar on soft/heavy as a juvenile although his best effort came on good ground when third in the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown in August. If his entries are anything to go by his mark of 94 could be very workable.
There are many others who could be given a chance with my best outsider at a big price being Richard Spencer’s Pjanoo who’s making his first appearance in a handicap and kept some good company as a juvenile.
Desert Hero has to be the bet here although I can’t resist a saver on Exoplanet despite his wide draw.
DESERT HERO 2 points win @ 9/2 bet365
EXOPLANET 1 point win @ 5/1 bet365
The day’s feature race is the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, a Group one contest run over the straight mile and we have a excellent sized field of thirteen for this year’s renewal. You can find my horse-by-horse guide and Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes Tips here.
A seven-runner class 2 0-105 handicap for four-year-olds and upwards is up next. The one they all have to beat is undoubtedly the William Haggas-trained five-year-old Montassib who appears to have more to give. Unsuited by heavy ground on his re-appearance in the Lincoln he then got no sort of run at Haydock last time when forcing his way through on the rails and flashing home under Cieran Fallon beaten only two lengths. Not young Fallon’s finest ride but off of the same handicap mark can make amends today.
The first three home in a similar grade handicap run over course and distance at the Guineas meeting renew rivalry with Charlie Johnstone’s The Gatekeeper beating Ralph Beckett’s Star Of Orion by a length with David & Nicola Barron’s Persuasion half a length away in third. On the revised terms there shouldn’t be much between the trio although they may all have to go to beat the selection.
MONTASSIB 2 points win @ 3/1 bet365
All odds were accurate at the time of writing.