Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Qipco) Group1 1mile straight Ascot Saturday

quipco stakes ascotAidan O’Brien with four successes, just shades the training honours by one from John Gosden, but the French, with two victories in the last four years, have to be taken seriously and the contender from across “La Manche” this year, Recoletos, has plenty to recommend him.

A 4yo son of the 3 times Group1 winning sire, Whipper, he has won 7 of his 13 starts, 4 times over 10f+, but significantly, his two top level successes, have come since being dropped in trip. A well beaten 4th in last year’s 10f Qipco Champion Stakes, he made a successful start to this year’s campaign when winning an 8f Group2 at Saint Cloud, and then made his top level breakthrough when comfortably winning the 9f Group1 Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp in May.

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Recoletos has a terrific chance this weekend

 

Edgy and sweating before the start of The Queen Anne Stakes at The Royal Meeting in June, he failed to fire on the fast ground, finishing 7/15 but following a 54 day break, he was an excellent 2nd to Jessica Harrington’s brilliant filly, Alpha Centauri, (rec 10lbs) in the Group1 Prix Jacques Le Maroit at Deauville on Good/Soft ground. He was 2 1/2L behind the Harrington filly, but had Freddy Heads Group1 winning colt, With You, 3 1/2L back in 3rd. Sent off the 23/10 Fav for Longchamp’s Group1, 8f Prix Du Moulin 6 week’s ago he put up a career best performance, getting up in a driving finish to beat Windcharmer a Head with Sir Michael Stoute’s Sussex Stakes runner up, Expert Eye, 1 1/4L back in 3rd. The Michel Laffon-Parias trained 4yo is clearly on the up, and with his proven ability to handle soft ground deserves his position near the top of Saturday’s market.

It is a little surprising to see John Gosden’s brilliant 3yo, Roaring Lion, (also engaged in the 10f Qipco Champion Stakes on the same card) reverting to a mile as he has certainly shown his best form over further, (won his last 3 races, all Group1s at 10f) but he did win last year’s Group2 Royal Lodge over Newmarket’s straight Rowley Mile on easy ground, so with similar conditions in prospect on Saturday, Master Trainer Gosden probably feels that a strongly run race over the trip will suit.

The ex handicapper, Addeybb, has won five of his eight starts, and looked a serious animal when stepped up to Group Class for the first time last April. Sent off the 6/4 Fav for the Group2 bet365 Mile at Sandown on Good/Soft ground, the son of Pivotal traveled well throughout the heat, took it up at the furlong marker, and went clear to win in impressive fashion by 2 3/4L from that good yardstick, the now 114 rated, Stormy Antarctic. With the 116 rated, Here Comes When, 6 1/2L back in 5th, this was a really top notch performance, so his poor showing three weeks later in Newbury’s Lockinge Stakes (8/14 9 3/4L behind Rhododendron) must have come as a great disappointment to connections. He hasn’t been seen since but if Willie Haggis (stable going well at the moment) has the 4yo gelding, who handles soft ground well back to his best he will be a danger to all.

Horse Racing - 2013 Dante Festival - Betfred Dante Stakes Day - York RacecourseThe Karl Burke (pictured) trained filly, Laurens, never wins by far, but that hasn’t stopped her winning an amazing 5 Group1s and so it was again a fortnight ago when she won the Group1, Sun Chariot Stakes by a Head from Saturday’s opponent Happily. This terrific 3yo who has banked nearly £1.5million for connections has been supplemented for Saturday’s race and if reproducing the form that saw her beat that other outstanding filly, Alpha Centauri in Leopardstown’s Matron Stakes, she would be hard to beat. A word of caution though, the Harrington filly was found to be clinically abnormal after that Leopardstown heat.

The Andrew Balding trained 4yo gelding, Beat The Bank, has yet to win at the top level, but connections must have felt it was only a matter of time following a scintillating performance in last year’s Group2 Joel Stakes at Headquarters on Good/Soft ground, where he won by 5L from Sir John Lavery, and had the 114 rated Soverign Debt 8 1/2L back in 4th. However he was well beaten in last year’s renewal, finishing 11 1/2L behind Persuasive, but this term, he got back on track when finishing a slightly unlucky 6th, 1 3/4L behind the winner, Accidental Agent in The Queen Anne, and then winning an Ascot Group2, (round course) in July. His win in the Group2 Celebration Mile 8 week’s ago was another excellent effort and he has had a nice break since, which should leave him one of the freshest in Saturday’s race.

Selection : Recoletos
E.W.          : Beat The Bank

The Dubai £500,000 Cesarewitch Handicap 2m2f Newmarket Tips

cesarawitchWhile last year saw the welcome return of the market leader getting his head in front, it has been a poor contest for favourites, Withhold, (Oddsguru’s selection) being only the third Jolly to collect since the great Vintage Crop prevailed in 1992, and in the past decade we have seen winners returned at 66/1, two at 50/1, and another at 25/1 so don’t be put off by a long price. The race uniquely is run over 2 counties, (starts in Cambridgeshire and finishes in Suffolk) and has only the one slight change of direction, a gentle turn around the 10f marker, giving the 35 runners a nearly straight 2m2f to contend with. Always run at a furious gallop from flag fall, stamina is at a huge premium, so contenders without very solid staying credentials are best ignored. Irish yards, with just 2 wins in the last 50 year’s have a very poor record, but Willie Mullins, (3rd last year with Lagos To Vegas) is mob handed at the time of writing, and he’s making a determined effort this term to improve the Celtic record. He trains the  current market leader, Stratum, and this son of Dansili certainly shouldn’t fail on the stamina front.

A 5yo gelding, he is out of the stoutly bred Galileo mare, Lunar Place, and demonstrated his ample stamina credentials in this year’s 2 1/2m Ascot Stakes, keeping on strongly for 3rd place, 2 1/4L behind the winner, stablemate, Lagos To Vegas. He followed up with a comfortable Newbury victory in the 2m1/2f JLT Cup in July, and was then sent off favourite for the 1m6f Ebor Handicap at York last time where he looked unlucky. Held up in the rear by pilot Robert Winston, he was left with an awful lot to do, but still looked a real danger, impressively weaving his way through the field only to be badly hampered 1 1/2f out where he lost all chance. He should be well suited by the step back up in trip and looks fairly treated on his York mark of 102.

williemullinsConnections of the second Mullins runner, the 7yo mare, Limini, have had to be very patient as she was off the course for 503 days prior to making her comeback in a 2m1f Handicap for Qualified Riders at Galway in July, where she finished a commendable 2nd. Bought from France by the Ricci’s in May 2015 she was campaigned exclusively over hurdles in 2016 and 2017, with considerable success, winning three of her 7 starts, including a Cheltenham Festival victory over 2m1f in 2016, and she looked a tad unlucky the following year, again at Cheltenham, when beaten 1 1/2L by the top class Apple Jade over 2m4f, where presumably she sustained that injury that kept her off the racecourse for 503 days. She started a 5/1 shot for the very valuable Petingo Handicap at Leopardstown over 13f, 4 week’s ago, and under a super ride from Saturday’s pilot, Oisin Murphy, led at the furlong marker, and kept on strongly to hold her stable companion, Law Girl, by a head. Racing off the same mark on Saturday, and with Murphy again doing the steering, she has plenty to recommend her.

Ian Williams who trained last year’s ill fated runner up, London Prize, (Oddsguru’s E.W. selection) produced his 7yo, Stars Over The Sea, to win the trial for Saturday’s contest over course and distance by 10L three weeks ago. However he was allowed his own way out front and the time was slow so may struggle with another 8lbs on his back.

The Neil Mulholland trained Vis A Vis looked well suited by the step up in trip when winning a 2mile handicap on the Kempton AW last time (Aug 8) and had previously won a Class4, 14f Sandown Handicap, 53 days earlier on his debut for the stable. By the strong influence for stamina, Dansili, out of the Rainbow Quest mare, Pretty Face his pedigree is all about stamina and could be very well suited by Saturday’s trip. Neil has secured the services of last year’s winning rider, Silvestre de Sousa and looks fairly treated on his mark of 90.

The Aidan O’Brien trained 3yo, Southern France would be only the third 3yo to prevail in the last two decades, but that said, you don’t get many horses from the Classic generation, with the class to finish 3rd in a St Leger competing in The Cesarewitch, and as a son of Galileo, sire of the Ascot Gold Cup winner, Order Of St George and plenty of other staying types, it wouldn’t surprise to see the Ballydoyle colt play a leading role on Saturday.

The Ralph Beckett trained 4yo, Here and Now has won 3 of his 12 starts and was quite impressive in his penultimate race, the valuable Sky Bet Handicap over 2m1/2f at York in August. He stayed on strongly to beat the useful, Davy’s Dilemma by 5L off a mark of 91. Dropped back to 1m6f in a Chester Listed contest 6 week’s ago, he was slow coming out of the gate and never got into a challenging position, but did stay on well and was only 1 3/4L adrift of the winner, Duretto at the line. Well bred, Here And Now is By Dansili out of the top class Hernando mare, Look Here, ( won The Oaks in 2008, 3rd St Leger 2008, Btn Shd when 3rd Coronation Cup 2009) so on breeding should find Saturday’s trip right up his street, and only 4lbs higher than York looks good value at current odds of 20/1.

Selection  : Vis A Vis
EW.            :  Here And Now. (If abs. Stratum)

John Gray

Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 1m4f Longchamp preview

arctriomphe

Dancing Brave swoops to the victory of all victories in 86 under Pat Eddery

Worth £2,528,319. to the winner, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is the most valuable race on turf run anywhere on the planet, and the most successful trainer, by a country mile, in this fantastic contest, is the French Maestro, Andre Fabre. With seven victories to his credit, he is four clear of his nearest pursuer, Aidan O’Brien, and represented this time by the upwardly mobile, 4yo, Waldgeist, and the talented 5yo Talismanic, has to have decent prospects of landing an eighth.

Waldgeist, a son of the great stallion, Galileo, has won 6 of his 13 starts but, it was only two outings ago, at the beginning of July, that he struck at the highest level.

WaldgeistGuru

The Oddsguru fancies Waldgeist to make a bold charge this weekend

 

Sent off the 4/5 favourite for the Group1 Grand Prix de St Cloud (1m4f Gd-Sft) he only got the better of the Gosden filly, Coronet, in the shadow of the post, but 77 days later was much more impressive when easily beating stable companion, Talismanic by 2 1/2L, over Saturday’s course and distance in the good “Arc” Trial, The Prix Foy, and to give further weight to the form, he had last year’s St Leger winner, Capri, a further 4L back in 5th. Talismanic, having won last year’s Breeders Cup Turf at Del Mar, and finished 2nd to the excellent Highland Reel in The Group1 Hong Kong Vase, is no slouch, so this looks a serious step up by the Fabre 4yo. He is out of the Monsanto mare Walderche, who was a Group3 winner on soft and won on heavy, so the weekend forecast for rain in the Paris region shouldn’t present any problems.

Since it’s inception nearly 100 years ago 7 horses have managed to win the great race a second time, but in the last 60 renewals, only two have managed the double, Alleged in 1978, and the fantastic filly Treve 4 years ago, which helps to put into some perspective, the challenge facing John Gosden’s super filly, Enable, on Sunday.

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The great race returns to its rightful place in the Bois de Boulogne this year

The injury she sustained to her knee last May and kept her off the course for 342 days, can’t have helped her cause either, but that said, she was pretty impressive when making her belated reappearance on the Kempton AW (1m4f) 29 days ago. In a 4 runner affair, she made all, and running on strongly, easily got the better of the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner up, Crystal Ocean, (gave 8lbs). This
5 times Group1 winner, including last year’s renewal at Chantilly, (has never run at Longchamp) deserves her position at the top of the market, and if successful, would give Mr Gosden a third winner in the race, and enable (forgive the pun) her owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, to equal the longstanding record held by Marcel Boussac since 1949 of 6 victories in the contest. However her current odds, in a heat with it’s fair share of hard luck stories, look decidedly skinny.

Unraced as a 2yo, the Willie Haggas trained filly, Sea Of Class, has done nothing but improve in her 4 races since making her debut in a 1mile Maiden at Headquarters in April. Showing her inexperience, the 3yo was beaten a neck in that Newmarket heat, but stepped up in trip, this stoutly bred filly, (by Sea The Stars, who was runner up in the 2009 Arc, out of the Hernando mare, Holy Moon) has remained unbeaten in her subsequent 4 races, and was particularly impressive the last twice, winning the Irish Oaks under a hands and heels ride from the Epsom Oaks Victor, Forever Together, and 5 week’s ago running away with The Group1 Yorkshire Equivalent. Held up at the back at York, she made smooth progress at the 2f marker, led inside the final furlong, and left the Gosden trained Coronet, trailing in her wake. The 2 1/4L margin of her victory could easily have been considerably more, and she had the useful Irish filly, Eziyra, (won a Curragh Group2 easily next time out) a further 1L back in 3rd. She has never run on anything worse than good but her dam was a winner on heavy, and her three most successful siblings, Charity Line, Final Score and Thierry Collect, all thrived on plenty of give, so the forecast for rain isn’t a worry, and indeed, if it does come up soft on Sunday, it may enhance her prospects.

We have to rewind 60 years to 1958 to find the last winner of the St Leger to win
“The Arc” when the great Ballymoss prevailed for Vincent O’Brien, and while Nijinsky was an unlucky loser in 1970, and many think that Alleged should have won The St Leger in 1977 prior to his “Arc” success, none of the above, speaks terribly strongly in favour of the chances of this year’s Doncaster Hero, Kew Gardens. However on the plus side, he won The Group1 Grand Prix de Paris over course and distance in July, in a time nearly 2 seconds faster than standard, and there was no fluke about his win over the talented Iah Ti Dar in the St Leger.

Roger Varian’s old boss, the sadly deceased, Michael Jarvis, won with the unconsidered, Carroll House in 1989, and Roger will be hoping for a similar outcome with his 50/1 shot Defoe. The son of Dalakhani won the Group2 Jockey Club Stakes at Headquarters in May and following a 98 days break the 4yo put up a career best performance last time, going down by a neck to Best Solution in Germany’s Top all aged contest, The Group1 Grosser Preis Von Baden, a contest incidentally, the above mentioned Carroll House won in 1988. Clearly progressing nicely, Defoe stays well, and could play a prominent role at the weekend.

Selection : Waldgeist
E.W.          Kew Gardens

 

Bet 365 Cambridgeshire Handicap 1m1f Newmarket Oddsguru Tips

cambridgeshire guruWith only 7 “Jollies” obliging over the last four decades, in the 30+ runner, cavalry charge, up the Rowley Mile, which is The Cambridgeshire, it’s clearly a difficult heat to crack, but one man who has done so on 3 occasions is training Maestro, John Gosden. Two of his victories were achieved with 3yo’s which makes both his contenders from the Classic Generation, Wissahickon and Style Hunter of interest.

The former, a son of record breaking American Sire, Tapit, has won 4 of his 6 starts, and was quite impressive last time, winning a Chelmsford AW Class2 Handicap
over 10f, off a mark of 101.

john gosden guru

Four-midable? Gosden goes for a quarter of wins in Saturday’s big one.

 

Always run at a furious pace, an ability to stay further than 1m1f has proved a decided asset in The Cambridgeshire. This well bred animal, he is a half brother to that super filly, Rainbow View, who Gosden trained to win The Group1
Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in 2009, showed that he is equally adept on Turf, winning a competitive Class2 York Handicap in June. Mr Gosden won the 2007 renewal with a strikingly similar 3yo, Pipedreamer, who had only the 5 runs before his success and if Wissahickon can overcome his relative inexperience he can prove a potent force on Saturday.

The second Gosden 3yo, Style Hunter, with only 7 starts, is another lightly raced type, but showed that he can cope with the demands of a big handicap field when finishing a close 6/30 in the 1m Brittania Handicap at Royal Ascot in June. Racing off a mark of 91 he finished 2 1/2L behind the winner Ostilio (rec 1lb) and followed up with a facile win over Easy Tiger 5 week’s ago at Goodwood to earn his new rating of 100 and get into Saturday’s contest. As The Brittania winner Ostilia is now rated 110, Style Hunter looks well handicapped and with form over 10f has plenty to recommend him.

william haggas guruThe Willie Haggas (pictured) trained 4yo, Alfaaris started the current campaign on a mark of 87, and following 4 excellent efforts, (won 2,second twice) this very progressive animal races off a mark of 104 at the weekend. He may have been a tad unlucky last time when pilot, Jim Crowley, may have overdone the waiting tactics in the 10 1/2f Sky Bet Handicap at York 5weeks ago. Racing off a mark of 101 he was travelling on the bit 2f out but ran out of room, and couldn’t get to the enterprisingly ridden winner, Pivoine. He meets Pivoine on 5lbs better terms on Saturday and back at 9f the Haggis horse should reverse the placings.

Roger Varian has never won a Cambridgeshire but with 3 entries, all in the colours of Sheik Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum this time he will be hoping to get his name on the scoresheet. His best chance would seem to lie with the 4yo son of Oasis Dream, Sharja Bridge, who has been steadily progressive in his 7 race career to date. He ran a very encouraging heat first time up this term when racing off a mark of 99 he was only beaten 1/2L by the talented Oasis Charm over course and distance in May. The pair finished 4L clear of the 3rd, Third Time Lucky, in a good time for the conditions so the form looks solid. He ran a decent race next time in the 10f Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot, finishing 4 1/4L behind the winner in 8th. He was close up with a furlong to run but didn’t quite get home and faded in the last 75yards. Following a 65 days break he ran well again finishing 4/18 behind Poets Society in a 1mile York Handicap 5 week’s ago. Racing off Saturday’s mark of 106 he was 1 1/4L behind the current Cambridgeshire Favourite, Kynren, who he meets on 3lbs better terms on Saturday. Sharja Bridge is out of the very successful German brood mare, Quetena, (all 4 of her offspring are decent winners and Sharja Bridge’s full brother, Querari, has won at the highest level, Group1 1m2f Heavy Capannelle 2010, and now stands as a stallion) so his breeding offers hope of plenty more to come.

The Aidan O’Brien trained, Kenya put up an amazing performance when coming home 3 1/2L clear of his field in the 1m Irish equivalent and put in another excellent effort when finishing 2nd in a 1m Leopardstown Group2 last time but both attempts beyond a mile has seen him finish last and none of his dams seven offspring stayed beyond 1m1/2f

The Saeed bin Suroor trained Very Talented ran a terrific race as a 3yo to finish 3rd in the 2016 renewal. Racing on the opposite side to the winner he won the race on his side but obviously sustained a setback and wasn’t seen on a racecourse again until making a winning reappearance at Chelmsford off a mark of 98 9 days ago. He won pretty comfortably from the good yardstick Firmament and doesn’t look badly treated on Saturday’s mark of 104 especially if one considers the way he trounced the now rated 102 Linguistic over Doncaster’s straight mile as a 2yo.

Selection : Style Hunter (if abs Sharja Bridge)
E.W.          :  Sharja Bridge

William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Handicap Bets 6f Ayr Saturday

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Trainer Kevin Ryan is aiming for 5 Ayr Gold Cups on Saturday

First run in its present format in 1906 this very valuable handicap with a maximum field of 25 runners, is always a highly competitive heat. Raced for over Ayr’s straight 6f, usually on easy ground, it is always run at a pillar to post gallop, putting a premium on stamina, and an ability to stay beyond 6f has proven a decided asset in the past. It has proved a tough race for the Classic generation with only two 3yo’s getting their head in front in the past 22 years, and market leaders have done even worse, with only 2 delivering the goods since 1980. The late lamented Dandy Nicholls scored a fantastic six timer in the contest, a terrific strike rate by any standards, and very difficult to beat, but his fellow Yorkshire based trainer, Irishman, Kevin Ryan, with four wins is creeping up on the rails, and his 4yo, Tommy Taylor might just be the horse to get him to within one of Dandy’s record.

A son of the American stallion, Mizzen Mast, with only 2 wins from 17 starts, his strike rate isn’t exactly impressive, but his run in The Sky Bet Dash Handicap (6f Soft) at York at the end of July hinted at better to come. He finished 5/14, only a nose behind one of the market leaders for Saturday’s contest, Growl, and meets him on the same terms on Saturday, which makes his current odds of 25/1 look generous. He put in another decent effort last time, finishing 3rd in an Ascot Class2 Handicap (6f Gd-Fm) two weeks ago. Well suited by soft ground and stays 7f, (only beaten a head by the useful Londinium over 7f on heavy ground on his 2yo racing debut in 2016) he could find plenty in his favour on Saturday.

ayrracesFollowing an excellent run in the 5f Group1 Flying Five at The Curragh last Sunday, the Fozzy Stack trained 4yo, Son of Rest, has the doubtful honour of leading Saturday’s market. He was only beaten 1/2L by Havana Grey, and had Sioux Nation, a previous top level scorer, a neck back in 3rd, at the Co Kildare venue, and he gets into Saturday’s contest on a mark 10lbs lower than his new rating of 111. As would be expected of a son of Pivotal, he relishes testing ground, (Has won on heavy and soft and was 2 3/4L behind Caravaggio on Soft/Heavy in a Curragh Group2 last year). He probably deserves his position at the top of the market, but it’s a concern that, while he clearly stays 6f and beyond, he has never won at the trip, and there has to be a worry about his ability to recover from last Sunday’s exertions in only six days. If he does prevail on Saturday, he will find his own little niche in history as the first winner from the Emerald Isle.

Despite their poor record in the contest, Roger Varian’s 3yo, Laugh a Minute looks interesting. A son of Mayson, (his progeny thrive in testing conditions) he has won 2 of his 9 starts, and put up an excellent performance in the Group3 Prix De Meautry Barriere at Deauville 24 days ago. He finished 2nd, 3 1/2L behind the subsequent winner, Tantheem (won a Longchamp Group3 easily from City Light next time) and had the useful D’Bai (close 2nd in a Doncaster Group2 next time back in 4th), strong form indeed! His mark on Saturday of 109, giving him a racing weight of 9-8 makes life look difficult, but it is a tight handicap, and with his liking for soft ground and proven ability to stay further, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him improve the 3yo’s record in the race.

The Tim Easterby trained 5yo, Flying Pursuit has won 7 of his 37 starts and handles testing conditions, He has been in good form of late, winning the Sky Bet Dash at York from stable companion, and opponent on Saturday, Golden Appolo, at the end of July, and then finishing 6/20 in The Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on Good ground three weeks later. Back on soft ground, this previous course and distance winner is worth a second look.

Richard Fahey (a trainer seeking his third win in the race) will be hoping that his 6yo Growl can go one better than when finishing 2nd to Brando in the 2016 renewal. He has been running well in all the top sprint handicaps this term, and indeed, may have been a tad unlucky not to have landed Goodwood’s Stewards Cup in August. Racing off a mark of 99 he had to be switched at the furlong marker and finished really strongly to nab 3rd place on the line. Racing off the same mark on Saturday he looks well treated, but probably wouldn’t be suited by really testing ground.

The Dean Ivory trained 3yo filly, Eirene has been mostly campaigned at six and seven furlongs, and she put in an excellent round last time when going down by a hard fought 3/4L to Dancing Star in Doncaster’s Group3 7f Sceptre Stakes 8 days ago. She was pulled up on her only other venture into handicap company when losing her action in Goodwood’s Stewards Cup, Racing off a mark of 101. She has won at 5, 6, and 7 furlongs, handles soft ground and following that excellent effort at Doncaster last week looks well handicapped on her Goodwood mark. One to be interested in!

Selection : Laugh A Minute
E.W.          : Tommy Taylor

John Gray

William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group1) 1m6 1/2f Doncaster Saturday

st leger historyFirst run in 1776, the St Leger is the World’s oldest classic. Contested over an extended 1m6f the race is invariably run at a sustained pace, and when turning in, the runners face a relentless battle up Doncaster’s long attritional strait, putting a huge emphasis on stamina. Non stayers don’t win the St Leger! Training honours in the modern era, with five victories apiece are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor and Aidan O’Brien, while the riding accolade goes to Frankie Dettori who only needs to hit the back of the net twice more to equal the immortal Lester Piggot’s seven wins, and he looks to have excellent prospects of getting one closer on the John Gosden (4 St Leger winners to his credit) trained filly, Lah Ti Dar.

a mug of Lester Pigott from june 1962

Lester won the St Leger on seven occasions

Unraced as a 2yo, the daughter of Dubawi has gone from strength to strength in her three races. She made her racecourse debut in April, hosing up in a lowly Class4 Newbury Maiden (1m2f Gd/Sft) and 16 days later took a big step up in class to win the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes (1m2f Gd/Fm) in equally impressive style at Newmarket. Further progress was evident last time when stepped up in trip she spread eagled a decent field in the Listed Galtres Stakes (1m4f Gd/Fm) at York 23 days ago, winning by 10L. More will be required at the weekend, but as a Daughter of the super mare,
Dare Re Mi, who was twice successful at the top level, including when winning the 2010 renewal of the Group1 12f Sheema Classic from the legendary Japanese Mare Buena Vista, (won over £10 million pounds in prize money) there should be plenty more to come from the Gosden filly. With only seven post war victories for Fillies in the final Classic, (Meld 1955 Cantelo1959 Dunfermline 1977 Sun Princess 1983 Oh So Sharp 1985 User Friendly 1992 and controversially, Simple Verse three years ago) the stats aren’t exactly encouraging but the 3lbs sex allowance is certainly a bonus in such a testing heat.

andrew balding st leger

Andrew Balding’s Maid Up has great each way claims

The only other filly in Saturday’s field is the Andrew Balding trained Maid Up, and she has demonstrated she has the requisite stamina for Saturday’s test, going down by a Shd over 14f in a Goodwood Group2 at the beginning of August, and comfortably winning the Group3 Lilly Langtry Stakes, run at a good clip, over the same course and distance 22days ago. This stoutly bred filly has a very progressive profile, and having paid plenty to supplement her, connections will be hoping, at the very least, to land some place money.

The Charlie Appleby trained Old Persian stayed on gamely to win the Group2 Great Voltigeur Stakes (1m4f) at York 24 days ago by a head from stable companion Cross Country with the current St Leger market leader, Kew Gardens, who was conceding 2lbs, 1 3/4L back in 3rd. While this was a considerable advance on his 6th in the Irish Derby there isn’t much in his pedigree to suggest that Saturday’s trip will bring further improvement, and it is 11 year’s since a Great Voltigeur winner (Lucarno 2007) went on to collect at Doncaster.

At the time of writing Kew Gardens heads a 7 strong challenge from Ballydoyle and following that effort in the Great Voltigeur last time is a warm order to give Aidan O’Brien a 6th victory in the race. The son of Galileo showed how well suited he is by Saturday’s trip when running away with The Queen’s Vase at The Royal Meeting in June and further enhanced his stamina credentials when winning the Group1
Grand Prix De Paris (1m4f Good) in July. In a fast run heat he kept on strongly to assert in the final 50yds where he had Saturday’s opponent, Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in third.
2lbs better off with Old Persian and with Ballydoyle back in top form he is going to be difficult to beat.

Aidan’s son, Joseph is hoping to become the first handler who has ridden a winner of the Classic, (Leading Light 2013) to train one, since Harry Wragg brought off the double with Intermezzo in 1969, and he must have a serious chance of doing so with his Irish Derby winner Latrobe. The son of Camelot kept on really well to keep his dad’s Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior at Bay in The Curragh Classic, and is easily forgiven his poor effort in the 10f Juddmonte International last time where the trip was too short. There are mixed messages from his pedigree but his half brother, Entangling, stayed quite well, albeit at a modest level, and his full brother, Pink Dogwood, currently racing as a 2yo, shapes like a stayer.

Selection  : Lah Ti Dar.   (If abs) Kew Gardens
E.W.            : Maid Up
John Gray

32Red Sprint Cup Stakes (Group1) 6f Haydock Saturday

Last week’s selection, Literalle Ci’s victory in the feature race at Newton Abbot, certainly helped the bank balance, coming home at the generous odds of 7/1 under an excellent ride by the 5lbs Claimer, Aine O’Connor. Always travelling comfortably he quickened close home, and won with a little more up his sleeve than the 1/2L victory would indicate, and could be worth following if turned out under a penalty. Whatever the horse does the talented Ms O’Connor is certainly worth keeping an eye on. With an impressive score of 12 wins from 23 rides she is clearly a claimer going places.

It’s a fair bet there won’t be any claimers aboard any of the contenders in Saturday’s 6f Group1 Sprint Cup in a contest where experience and quick reactions will be at a premium, and of course weight allowances don’t apply in any case. Three jockeys, Frankie Dettori, Adam Kirby, and Gerald Mosse, will be attempting to become the first riders since Pat Eddery in 1989 to ride a second winner of the race which was first run in 1966 under the sponsorship of Vernon’s Pools. Since receiving Group1 status in 1988, Henry Candy is the only double winning handler represented on Saturday which makes his Limato of interest.

The 6yo son of Tagula is a genuine top flight performer, winning two Group1s, (7f Prix De la Foret 2016 and the 6f July Cup the same year) and being placed five times at this level, including an excellent 2nd to Saturday’s opponent, Harry Angel, (rec 6lbs) in last year’s renewal of The July Cup. His first three starts this term were disappointing but he came good last time, winning the Listed, Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight ago, comfortably beating Top Score. He will have to find plenty more on Saturday, but in the hands of that master trainer of sprinters, Mr Candy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

Market leader and last year’s winner, Harry Angel is rated 7lbs ahead of his nearest rival, (James Garfield) but has to overcome an aversion to the starting stalls. Sent off the 5/2 fav in June for the Diamond Jubilee he got very upset in the stalls and injuring himself finished lame out the back. He has been on the easy list since, but his top trainer, Clive Cox is convinced that he has him back at the top of his game, and indeed sees a silver lining in his enforced 11 week absence, feeling that being a fresh animal is a definite bonus. Certainly if handling the stalls, (he behaved himself when winning The Duke Of York on his previous start) this double Group1 winner will be hard to beat.

The 3yo James Garfield, trained by George Scott has been campaigned at distances between 5f and 1m but his performance in the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over 6 1/2f five weeks ago, would strongly suggest that Saturday’s distance is the son of Exceed and Excel’s optimum trip. In a truly run race he was ahead at the distance and was just run out of it close home by Polydream, (best at 7/8f) and had Saturday’s opponent The Tin Man 2 1/2L back in third. Starting at odds of 42/1 this was a big step forward and with further progress likely and Frankie again doing the steering he has to be worth a close look, particularly as the Classic generation have won 6 of the last 10 renewals.

The David Ellsworth trained 4yo, Sir Dancealot is another animal very much on the up and his win last time in the 7f Hungerford Stakes was pretty impressive. However, while he has won twice at 6f and was 2 3/4L 3rd behind Harry Angel in The 6f Duke Of York in May, he does seem to be better at further.

The Kevin Ryan trained Brando must be a delight to own. Very genuine, he has banked over £3/4 million in prize money for connections, has won 8 of his 28 starts including at the top level (won last year’s Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest) and rarely runs a bad race. He put in an excellent performance to finish 2nd in The July Cup but ran one of his poorer races last time, finishing 8th, 6 1/4L behind James Garfield in The Prix Maurice de Gheest last time.

The Willie Haggas trained 5yo Tasleet finished 2nd to Harry’s Angel in last year’s renewal, albeit at a respectable distance of 4L on heavy ground, but reversed the form 6 week’s later, when finishing 2nd in the Group1 Champions Sprint, he had the Cox Horse 1L back in 4th. He has only had the one run this term, finishing 3rd to Merchant Navy in The Group2 Greenland Stakes at The Curragh in May. Due to a slight setback he hasn’t been seen since, but his trainer reports him in rude health. He handles easy ground (there is rain about) and goes well after a break, so another to consider.

The Sir Michael Stoute trained Eqtidaar is in the same ownership as Tasleet and looked an animal going places when winning the Group1 Commonwealth Cup (3yo’s only) at The Royal Meeting in June, but found little when tackling older animals in The July Cup. However Sir Michael feels that Eqtidaar, a big horse, is now maturing and following a nice break a much stronger effort is anticipated, and it’s worth noting that excellent record of 3yo’s in the race.

Selection : Harry Angel

E.W. : Tasleet

John Gray