Ascot and York are the day’s feature meetings with ITV on Saturday with the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes running at 15:40 the day’s feature race, and what a cracker we have this year. A real race to savour. The ground is soft at both tracks so we’ll be looking for horses that love to get their hooves into the turf. Here are my thoughts and expert horseracing tips on the day’s seven races with selections to help beat the bookies.
We start the day’s terrestrial coverage off with an eleven-runner 6F Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes for two-year-old fillies only. There’s very little soft ground form here with the Amo Racing-owned Komat the only horse to comprehensively prove his effectiveness on the soft ground having won at Redcar in April on soft. I’m not quite sure she’ll be good enough to win this mind. George Boughey’s Soprano is the current favourite but he ran to at Sandown on Thursday so has to be deemed doubtful one would think.
Clive Cox saddles an interesting runner here in the once-raced Symbology who beat the more experienced Nighteyes 3/4L at York on her debut a fortnight ago on the good ground looking a nice prospect in the process and can run well along with Charlie Johnston’s Sacred Angel who impressed when winning at Newmarket a fortnight ago on fast ground.
The Godolphin runner Dazzling Star doesn’t look anything too special having won a modest (by Newmarket standards) 6F maiden a month ago which hasn’t worked out that well. There’s no standout filly here especially with question marks over the ground for most but I’ll take a chance on the Cox runner Symbology each way to small stakes who, although winning on good ground, may appreciate some cut in the ground like his sire and dam who both won on soft ground.
SYMBOLOGY 1 point win @ 7/2 with Bet365 bonus code
York’s ITV coverage kicks off with a nineteen-runner class 4 5F ‘Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe’ Handicap, a unique race where national hunt jockeys get the chance to ride the sprint track on the Knavesmire. It has a very open look about it with local sprint specialist Paul Midgley saddling six runners, the best of whom may well be the Sam Twiston Davies-ridden Glory Fighter.
2021 winner Soul Seeker, trained by David O’Meara has plummeted in the handicap since and races here off of a handicap mark some 17lb lower than that victory. He has little form on a soft surface however so is overlooked for that reason alone.
In a race where stakes are most definitely kept small the pick may well be the David O’Meara-trained Speedacus who is ridden by the current leader of the national hunt jockeys championship Sean Bowen, who actually won on the flat at Pontefract for his father Peter last week with Supposedtobe. Relatively lightly raced for his age, this Slade Power chestnut gelding proved his liking for soft ground when winning at Doncaster a week ago for which he’s been raised 4lbs. In an open contest, he’s worth a small each-way bet.
SPEEDACUS 1/2 point each way @ 9/1 with William Hill promo code (Paying top 5 places at 1/5 odds)
Ten fillies or mares line up for this 1M Group 3 Longines Valiant Stakes. The Irish challenger Cadeau Belle, trained by Johnny Murtagh, is unbeaten in two starts having won a Gowran Park maiden on soft ground and a listed race at Navan. This is a further step up in class but she’s done nothing wrong and could play a hand in the finish with Jamie Spencer in the saddle.
Also over from the Emerald Isle is the Joseph O’Brien-trained Thornbrook, a listed winner in France last time out who could also be in the mix here. Roger Varian saddles an interesting runner in the four-year-old Ameynah who we haven’t seen since finishing 6th in last season’s 1000 Guineas and is also untested on easy ground so is overlooked for those reasons alone.
Six of the 10 runners are three-year-olds including Cadeau Belle with the Andrew Balding-trained Vetiver stepping up in grade but only 10lb behind the top rated and has won three times on soft ground so has her under foot conditions here.
The one I feel they all have to beat though is the Ed Walker-trained, Saffie Osborne-ridden Random Harvest. The five-year-old mare has won twice on soft ground and was probably out of her depth last time out when 6th of 8 in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket racecourse. She had previously gone down by short margins in group 3 and 2 company at Epsom and Ascot and as the highest rated of the ten looks the bet here.
RANDOM HARVEST 1 point win @ 10/3 with Bet365
A competitive fifteen-runner 6F class 2 handicap is up next and has a typical York sprint look about it. Karl Burke’s Lethal Levi heads the weights here and ran well on the all-weather at Newcastle last time when 3rd to Batal Dubai. He has claims along with a whole host of others including the only three-year-old in the field in the shape of Richard Fahey’s Barefoot Angel who makes her first start in a handicap having had her wind operated on since last seen when down the field in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn at Newmarket in April. This represents a drop in grade for the Dark Angel filly and she can run well.
Kevin Ryan’s Hambleton Racing-owned seven-year-old Magical Spirit is an interesting runner who won in the mud at Doncaster in April prior to an excellent third of 21 over course and distance 18 days later to Bielsa. His latest run on the all-weather can be forgiven and with conditions to suit looks the pick here to small stakes and an additional place.
MAGICAL SPIRIT 1/2 point e/w @ 11/1 with BetVictor promo code (Paying top 4 places at 1/5 odds)
The day’s cavalry charge is the valuable class 2 7F heritage International handicap where we have 27 runners declared. My thoughts and selections for this open handicap can be found in my Moët & Chandon International Stakes (Heritage Handicap) Tips preview.
Just the five runners go to post for this 1M 2F 56 yards Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes. The warm favourite and easily the most likely winner is the William Haggas-trained My Prospero who is taking a drop in grade here having run in Group 1 company on his last three starts. His best effort to date was at last season’s Champions Day in the Qipco Champions Stakes when finishing third (beaten 1/2L) by Bay Bridge and Adayar with the great Baaeed behind in fourth.
He found the mile of the Lockinge at Newbury on his re-appearance too short for him in May and was not disgraced when fourth of 6 in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting at Ascot in June (beaten 6 1/2L). A repeat of any of those three runs should see him take this contest on the ground that he’s proven on.
Roger Varian’s Royal Champion took the Wolverton at Royal Ascot but this is a step up in class for him whilst Owen Burrow’s Alflaila has a 294-day layoff to overcome as well as question marks over his ability to handle soft ground.
Johnny Murtagh sends over Mashoor from his County Kildare base in Ireland and is chasing a four-timer with his best effort coming at Curragh last time out in the Group 3 International Stakes when running out an impressive 4 3/4L winner from Al Riffa. He looks the danger to the favourite if coping with the soft ground on the Knavesmire.
MY PROSPERO 2 points win @ 5/4 with William Hill
The feature race of the day is the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes, a Group One race run over 1M 4F and has attracted an excellent field of eleven this year and looks like being one of the best renewals for many a year.
The two three-year-olds taking on the nine elders are Aiden O’Brien’s Epsom and Irish Derby winner Auguste Rodin and the Roger Varian-trained Derby runner-up and Royal Ascot winner King Of Steel. There was only 1 1/2L between them at Epsom and as that was the latter’s first run of the season I would expect there to be little between them here despite Auguste Rodin’s trainer expressing concerns about very soft ground let’s not forget he ran out a comfortable winner of the Vertem Futurity on heavy ground as a juvenile.
The soft ground has come in favour of the Owen Burrows runner Hukum whose form figures on the ground with the description soft in reads 1131. Last seen beating Desert Crown at Sandown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes in May he looks a major player now stepping back up in trip.
Last year’s winner Pyledriver is back to defend his title having prepped with a victory in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot but this year’s renewal looks a lot classier than last year’s. The Gosden’s Emily Upjohn was a major disappointment in this race last year when pulling too hard but has bounced back to form this season with two solid efforts although soft ground may be her downfall.
An interesting outsider is one of the Aiden O’Brien quartet in Point Lonsdale who’s unbeaten in five starts on soft ground and could hit the frame at a monster price. A race to savour but with plenty in his favour it’s Hukum for me.
HUKUM 1 point win @ 9/2 with Betfred promo code
POINT LONSDALE 1/4 point e/w @ 80/1 with 888Sport (Paying top 3 places at 1/5 odds)
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.