William Hill St Leger Stakes (Group1) 1m 61/2f Doncaster Saturday

doncaster racesDoncaster stages the final Classic of the British racing season on Saturday, and historically, York’s Great Voltigeur Stakes has been the best guide. Run over 1m4f at The Ebor Meeting, 13 winners of the Group2 event have gone on to Doncaster glory starting with Premonition who landed the double in 1953. Saturday’s hot favourite, the John Gosden trained, Logician, will be hoping to extend the sequence, but caution is advised as it is 12 years since the double has been landed, (by Lucarno, also trained by Gosden) and the only animal to have even run in The York race, and collected at Doncaster since, was last year’s Hero, Kew Gardens, (Finished 3rd at York). That said, Mr Gosden has won Doncaster’s Blue Riband on 4 occasions so certainly knows what is required and logician has plenty to recommend him.

The son of Frankel, unraced as a 2yo, began his career at a pretty low level, in a Class4 10f Newbury Maiden in May, which he won with ease, and followed up with 2 facile Handicap victories over 10 and 12 furlongs. Taking a huge step up in Class for the Great Voltigeur, he justified his short price of 10/11, keeping on strongly to beat the 110 rated, Ballydoyle hope, Constantinople by 1 3/4L. If he is as effective over Saturday’s extra 2 1/2f, he must have a great chance of giving Mr Gosden a 5th win in the Classic, but it’s worth remembering that The St Leger is all about stamina, and there are mixed messages coming from Logician’s pedigree. He is out of the Daylami mare Scuffle, whose dam never raced beyond 7f, and his full brother, Collide failed to stay on his only attempt at 14f. The furthest any of his other 3 half siblings have won over is 9 1/2 f so breeding would, at the very least, raise questions about the Frankel colts ability to grind it out up Doncaster’s long unforgiving strait on Saturday.

Having finished a close 3rd to Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in York’s 2mile Lonsdale Cup 22 days ago there are no stamina doubts about Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt
Il Paradiso, and beautifully bred, he is out of the Danehill Dancer mare, Famous, whose mother, Starlight Dreams, is the Dam Of the top class, Mastercraftsman. Prior to York he had hacked up by 12L in a 2m Curragh Handicap and he handles soft ground so any rain would have to help his chances.

Besides Il Paradiso, the Ballydoyle yard are mob handed at the time of writing, but Derby 5th, Sir Dragonet, (only beaten 3/4L and ridden by Ryan Moore) looks by far the most likely of them. Unraced as a 2yo, he has only run 4 times, and won his first two in the style of a stayer, cruising up in a 12 1/2f Tipperary Maiden in April, and then making short work of some decent animals in the 12 1/2f (Gd-Sft) Group3 Chester Vase, where he had Saturday’s opponents, Norway and Dashing Willoughby 8L and 3/4L back in 2nd and 3rd. Connections were perfectly happy with his 4th in a 10f Curragh Group 3 following a 76 day break 4 weeks ago and report him in fine fettle for Saturday’s Heat. He is by the St Leger runner up Camelot and his grand dam was a daughter of the great Urban Sea, (Dam of Galileo and Sea The Stars) so there are plenty of positives there. It will be interesting to see if Ryan chooses to take the ride again and if he does,take the hint!

The all conquering Middleham yard of training Maestro, Mark Johnston, will be hoping to land a first St Leger with their improving son of Australia, Sir Ron Priestley, and the style in which he won Goodwood’s 14f March Stakes 3 weeks ago, suggests that it may not be a forlorn one. Making all, under a canny ride from Saturday’s excellent pilot, Franny Norton, he stayed on strongly to win by 1 1/2L from Promissory with the 105 rated Manuela De Vega, (rec3lbs) another 1 1/2L back in 3rd. It has been a long time between drinks as far as Classics are concerned for such a top trainer, as Mr Johnston,
(Attraction 1000gns 2004 and Mr Baileys 2000gns 1994) and Im sure that most racing fans would agree that a third success is long overdue.

The Martyn Meade trained Technician improved for the step up in trip when taking Newbury’s 13f Geoffrey Freer Stakes 4 weeks ago in eye catching fashion. The son of Mastercraftsman stayed on well to beat the 113 rated favourite Morando on soft ground and would be worth considering if similar conditions prevail at the weekend.

Selection  : Sir Dragonet

EW.            : Sir Ron Priestley

John Gray

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Betfair Sprint Cup Stakes (Group1) 6f Haydock Saturday

haydock betfairThe Merseyside track hosts the only Group1 action anywhere in Britain or Ireland this weekend and Wiltshire trainer, Martyn Meade, will be hoping that his son of Showcasing, Advertise, can continue the good recent record of The Classic Generation
(3yo’s have won 4 of the last 5 renewals) in Saturday’s heat.

He has won 5 of his 9 starts and was scoring at the top level for the third time when landing Deauville’s Prix Maurice De Gheest, (6 1/2f Good) 34 days ago. Finishing strongly, he held on to win by a head from Saturday’s opponent, Brando. Mind you, the runner up kept on really well, and thanks to the fluctuating weight for age scale, is 2lbs better off on Saturday. Advertise’s other Group1 successes came in The Phoenix Stakes, (6f Gd Aug 2018) and Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup (6f Gd-Sft) in June. The form of The Phoenix Stakes hasn’t worked out with the runner up, So Perfect, (Btn 1/2L) only managing to win a Naas Group3 in his next 8 races. There are mixed messages coming from The Commonwealth Cup, with the well beaten 4th, Ten Soverigns (Btn 2 3/4L), dramatically reversing the form next time out, coming
home in most impressive fashion, to land Newmarket’s Group1 July Cup, where he had Advertise 2 3/4L back in second.

The Sprint Cup is one of the few top level events to elude The Master of Ballydoyle,
and Aidan will be hoping that the poor run of Ten Soverigns, following that impressive victory at Newmarket, in York’s 5f Nunthorpe Stakes last time, was either down to the drop in trip, or as is quite often the case at York, an inability to handle the surface on The Knavesmire. If he turns up in the same form as at Newmarket, and handles the likely soft ground, (his dam won on heavy) he might just fill that gap in the O’Brien CV.

Ballydoyle’s second string, the 3yo filly, Fairyland, has been disappointing since winning last year’s Chevely Park Stakes last Autumn, but it’s possible that this is her time of year, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see a big run from this well bred daughter of Kodiac.

michael stoute darleyVeteran handler, Sir Michael Stoute has won The Sprint Cup twice, but that was way back in 1986 and 1987. He runs the late developing 5yo entire, Dream Of Dreams, who has yet to score at the top level, but looked unlucky not to break his duck in Royal Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes in June. Finishing best of all, he was only beaten by a rapidly diminishing head, by the 123 rated Blue Point, and he was in front a stride past the post. The son of Dream Ahead was a big disappointment in The July Cup, finishing out the back, but he is clearly a difficult horse to get right, and if Sir Michael, who does so well with these late maturing types, has him at his peak, he must have a serious chance of landing a belated third victory for the master of Freemason Lodge.

Brando’s good run in The Prix Maurice De Gheest has been referred to above, and with plenty of rain about, the son of Pivotal’s chance, can only be enhanced. Trained by the talented Yorkshire trainer, Kevin Ryan, who is no stranger to top level success, Brando was only beaten 1/2L by The Tin Man (disappointing since) in last year’s renewal on heavy ground, and has won three times on soft. As demonstrated by that good run at Deauville, he is clearly as good as ever, and if the ground does turn testing has to be worth considering.

img_7619Kevin (pictured) also runs the upwardly mobile 3yo, Hello Youmzain who has won 3 of his 6 starts, and emphasised his soft ground credentials when winning a Maison-Laffitte Group2 last Autumn on holding ground. He won a Group2 over course and distance, (6f Gd-Fm) in May, and last time finished 3rd to Advertise in Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup. Further improvement is required, but the son of Kodiac has a progressive profile, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him involved.

The Charlie Hills trained son of Dark Angel, Khaadem, has won 4 of his 7 starts, and the 3yo looked a pretty serious animal when hosing up in Goodwood’s Stewards Cup 5 weeks ago. Surprisingly for such an inexperienced animal, he was backed as if defeat was out of the question, and justified the confidence, winning in the style of a top class Group horse. Saturday presents a very different test but khaadem looks a really progressive type and has to be on any shortlist, and I’m sure Charlie would love to emulate Dad, Barry, who won with Red Club in 2007.

The James Tate trained Invincible Army seems to be the forgotten runner in the race. He looked a horse going places when cruising up in a York Group2 in the Spring but disappointed in the Diamond Jubilee and The Prix Maurice De Gheest on Good/ Firm
and Good ground. However he did easily win a Group3 on Newcastle’s AW in between, and it’s quite possible that a return to easier conditions could spark a revival.

Selection   : Dream Of Dreams

EW.             : Brando

John Gray

Betway Solario Stakes (Group3) 7f Sandown Saturday

sandown racingFollowing the withdrawal of Oddsguru’s selection, Royal Line, for last week’s Ebor Handicap on the Thursday, (presumably because of the likelihood of fast ground) I hope that many of you focused on our EW selection, Mustajeer, who did the blog proud by winning at the rewarding odds of 16/1. The Ger Lyons trained 6yo was given a great ride by the Irish Champion Jockey, Colin Keane, who sticking to the rails from his low draw, made smooth headway from the 3f marker, took it up a furlong out, and despite a spirited challenge from the runner up, never looked like being passed. This was the 5th winner in the last 11 runnings from The Emerald Isle, a stat well worth bearing in mind come next year’s renewal. There are no contenders from across The Irish Sea in Saturday’s Solario Stakes, a heat yet to be won by a horse from that quarter, but the man who landed the race for the 5th time last year, with the subsequent triple Group1 winning Too Darn Hot, John Gosden, runs two likely looking types in Encipher and Eshassy.

The former (runs in the same colours as Al Suhail) made a satisfactory racecourse debut, finishing 2nd in a Haydock Novices to the subsequent Nursery winner, Path Of Thunder, and he showed the benefit of the experience 15 days later when comfortably beating Native Tribe, (won next time out) by 2 1/4L in a Newbury Class 4 on Good-Soft ground. There is nothing special about the form but all he could do was beat what was put in front of him, and if similar conditions prevail at the weekend, could be interesting.

trilby sandownGosden’s second runner, Eshassy, was an unconsidered 22/1 shot on his racecourse debut, and finished down the field in a Newmarket Maiden in which Saturday’s opponent, Al Suhail was runner up. He showed the benefit of the outing when winning  a Kempton Class4 24 days ago. Again the form was only ordinary, but his pedigree is interesting. By Oasis Dream, he is out of the Galileo mare, Galicuix, which makes him a half brother to the 2000gns and St James’s Palace Stakes winner, Galileo Gold, and he has an entry in the Group1 Dewhurst Stakes. John can count the multiple Group1 winning animals, Ravens Pass, Kingsman, and Too Darn Hot, amongst his 5 previous winners of The Solario Stakes, so the Master of Clarehaven Stables is definitely a man to keep on the right side of.

Charlie Appleby won the 2017 renewal with the 2018 Derby Hero, Masar, and his regally bred, Al Suhail, currently heads Saturday’s market. He was only beaten a neck when a strong finishing 2nd to Al Madhar on his debut, in that Newmarket Maiden referred to above, (Eshassy). It was a strongly run heat,  in a very good time, and the form was given plenty of substance when the 8th horse home, (6L behind Al Suhail) Tammani, beat a Gosden Hotpot, Riot, next time out. Al Suhail hadn’t much more than an exercise gallop when landing a Yarmouth Novices 16 days ago, and beautifully bred, by Dubawi, out of the top class mare, Shirocco Star, who finished runner up in both the English and Irish Oaks, looks the one to beat on Saturday.

Clive Cox has never won The Solario, but his twice raced son of Dutch Art, Positive, is attracting plenty of interest in the markets. He was confidently backed to make a winning debut, and duly obliged, winning a Salisbury Maiden by 5L in a good time. Sent off a 12/1 chance for Goodwood’s Group2 Vintage Stakes 5 weeks later, he didn’t help his cause by missing the break, but ran on with some purpose to finish 2nd, albeit at a distance of 5L, to Pinatubo. Run on drying ground, in a time 3 seconds slower than standard, it’s difficult to know what to make of the form as neither the 3rd,
Lope Y Fernandez, (beaten 10L) Nor the 4th, Visinari, (beaten 13 1/2) seemd not to run their races, but that said he did do well to recover from that slow start, and he was impressive at Salisbury.

Having come within a neck of winning Newmarket’s Group2 July Stakes (6f Gd/Fm) in his previous race, Visinari was a particular disappointment,  but with entries in the Group1 7f National Stakes, and the Group2 1m Royal Lodge Stakes, Trainer, Mark Johnston ( has won The Solario twice so knows what is required) doesn’t seem to be blaming a lack of stamina for Visinari’s poor performance at Goodwood. He is a tall leggy type who may have found the combination of questionable ground, and Goodwood’s sloping undulations, against him. By the Derby winner Sinndar, his 4 siblings all stayed at least a mile, and with Ryan Moore, ( won on him first time out) taking over steering duties, it will be interesting to see how he performs on Sandown’s more conventional track.

Selection.   : Al Suhail.    (If abs) Visinari

EW.              : Eshassy

John Gray

Sky Bet Ebor Handicap 1mile 6 furlongs York Saturday

york eborFirst run in 1843, with the exception of the war years, 1914-18 and 1940-42, it has been run continuously on York’s historic Knavesmire. It was abandoned in 2008 due to a waterlogged track, but a substitute race was run at Newbury. It is Europe’s richest Handicap, and this year carries a prize fund of £1000,000, with £600,000 going to the lucky winner. With prize money of this order on offer, and 22 closely handicapped horses in contention, it is, unsurprisingly, a difficult heat to predict, and only a single
“Jolly” has obliged in the last 20 years. Long priced winners are certainly not a rarity and a 100/1 shot won 13 years ago. The 1958 winner of The Ascot Gold Cup, the great mare Gladness, won the Ebor for the legendary Vincent O’Brien in the same year, and remained the sole Irish trained winner of the race, until Willie Mullins ended the drought in 2009. The flood gates haven’t exactly opened for raiders from across The Irish Sea, but they have won a further 3 times in the last 9 years, and one that catches the eye from that quarter is the Ger Lyons trained Mustajeer.

The 6yo son of Medicean ran well in last year’s renewal where he finished 4th, 5 1/4L behind the winner. Held up in the rear from his wide draw by pilot Gary Carroll, he was left with too much to do but kept on well under pressure in the final furlong. He only raced once more last season, winning a Naas Listed race with consumate ease in November. His 4 runs this term have all been in Group races, and he acquitted himself well last time, finishing 3L 5th in a Curragh Group2 8 weeks ago. He was only a head behind the 113 rated favourite, Southern France and a strict interpretation of that result would suggest that Saturday’s mark of 108 looks very fair. The Lyons yard is going great guns at present, and with Ireland’s Champion Jockey, Colin Keane doing the steering he has plenty to recommend him.

the knavesmire

York’s historic Knavesmire

The Roger Charlton trained 6yo Withhold has won 5 of his 13 starts and considering it was his first run for 269 days, ran a particularly fine race last time making all in Newbury’s Marsh Cup with the steadier of 9-10 on his back,(2m1/2f Gd-Sft). A similar front running performance saw him land last year’s Northumberland Plate in stylish fashion. He is 6lbs higher than last time, and the drop back in trip is a concern, but his relentless galloping style should serve him well and if he gets to the front could be difficult to peg back.

With a win, a second, and a third, from his three course appearances, there can be little doubt that the William Haggas trained Raheen House feels at home on
The Knavesmire. He was only having his second start for the yard when beaten a neck, finishing 3rd, in a group 3 over course and distance 6 weeks ago. He is making his handicap debut on Saturday, off a mark of 111, which seems high enough, but he does meet Saturday’s opponent, Weekender, with whom he virtually dead heated, (got the race in a subsequent inquiry) In an Ascot Listed race 22 months ago on 5 lbs better terms. He didn’t seem to have much left in the locker last time, and there has to be some doubt about his ability to last 14f in a race like The Ebor, but there are some positives from his pedigree as his full brother, Shraaoh, won the 2mile Group1 Sydney Cup at Randwick in April.

Since joining the Mark Johnston operation last February, the ex German/French 5yo, Kings Advice, has won an amazing 8 of his 9 starts, and is now rated 42lbs higher than for his first run for the Middleham yard, at the beginning of March. Last time out he again showed real battling qualities, to get the better of the useful Outbox in a driving finish to Goodwood’s Summer Handicap off a mark of 108. Kings Advice is 5lbs higher on Saturday, but the son of Frankel doesn’t seem to know when he’s beaten, and it won’t come as a great surprise if he lands Mark a second Ebor, to go with Quick Ransom’s win 27 years ago.

Mind you Mark’s second string, Baghdad, is no back number either. Another son of Frankel, he has responded well to the Johnston tutelage, winning 5 of his 10 starts since joining the Middleham Academy, and improving from an initial mark of 74 to 109. He held on bravely at Royal Ascot to land the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes by a short head from Saturday’s opponent, the fast finishing Ben Vrackie, (has disappointed since). Baghdad has run moderately in his last two races both over 12f and there has to be some doubt about his ability to stay Saturday’s trip but that said, Frankels do stay well, and he has an entry in the Irish St Leger.

John GosdenThe regally bred, Royal Line, (by Dubawi out of a daughter of the fabulous Urban Sea) has yet to live up to his regal pedigree, but did look a talented individual when winning Doncaster’s November Handicap last Autumn off a mark of 105. He gave the impression that there could be more to come over further, and having had a nice pipe opener over an inadequate 10f at the beginning of July, Mr Gosden (pictured) can seriously contemplate the prospect of becoming the first handler in the modern era to train back to back winners of The Ebor, (won last year with Muntahaa).

Selection : Royal Line

EW.          :  Mustajeer
John Gray

German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes 2yo Fillies 7f Group3

newmarket july course viewNewmarket July Course –  Saturday

The race is named after the unfashionably bred Sweet Solera, who won the 1000gns and Epsom Oaks in 1961, and became Timeform’s top rated filly of the year. Irish bred, she was foaled in the Emerald Isle in 1958, but we have yet to see a filly that hails from her country of birth win the race named in her honour, a situation that Irish trainers, Jessica Harrington and Joseph O’Brien will be keen to correct at the weekend.

Jessica Harrington
Moone
Photo: Patrick McCann 24.02.2017Jessica runs the daughter of Poets Voice, One Voice, and she certainly looked capable of further progress when winning a 7f Leopardstown Maiden by 3L 16 days ago, on only her 2nd racecourse appearance. She beat the debutant Auxillia who went on to win her next race by 5L, and while there is nothing special about the form as it stands, Jessica’s contender, is a nicely bred filly, by the highly promising young Stallion, Poets Voice, who sadly died last year. Mrs Harrington, now in her seventies is still a superb trainer and if her filly takes up Saturday’s engagement, (also entered at The Curragh on Friday) is well worth considering.

Joseph O’Brien is no mug either and his contender, Unforgetable, ran a solid race 16 days ago to finish 2nd in a Leopardstown Group3. She was beaten 3 1/2L by his fathers filly, Love, but there was no disgrace in that, as the daughter of Galileo had won her previous race, and may prove to be yet another high flyer from The Ballydoyle Academy. Back in 4th at Leopardstown was the 2/1 favourite, Precious Moments, who had run well in the Group3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished a close 2nd in a Curragh Group2, giving plenty of substance to the form.

The Richard Hannon trained daughter of Invincible Spirit, Cloak Of Spirits, made a very pleasing racecourse debut 15 days ago, when winning a Fillies Novices Stakes at Ascot. She won by 3 1/2L despite running a little green, but a word of caution as the well backed favourite, Dubai Paradise, was leading at the 2f marker when weakening quickly and was eased right down.

charlie appleby lincolnThe Charlie Appleby trained daughter of Kodiac, Light Blush, made a winning debut over Saturday’s course and distance, (July13 Good-Firm) And was sent off favourite for a Sandown Listed race 12 days later. In a heat where Frankie Dettori, riding Saturday’s opponent, Walk In Marrakesh, was able to dictate things from the front, the Italian Maestro got first run, and managed to cling on from the closing Light Blush by 1/2L, with another of Saturday’s contenders, West End Girl, a further 1 1/2L back in 4th. It is quite possible that the Sandown form can be reversed, ( West End Girl was also keeping on when not getting a clear run and was hampered inside the final 60 yards). It’s worth noting that Light Blush is out of the Listed winning mare, Marsh Daisy, who’s best form was all on soft ground so if it does come up on the easy side at the weekend, confidence would be increased.

Despite losing 4L at the start, the Ed Vaughan trained Ultra Violet made a stunning start to her career, hacking up by 8L in a 6f Maiden Fillies Stakes over Saturday’s course 7 weeks ago. The form hasn’t really been franked and the time was ordinary, but she couldn’t have been more impressive, and being by the highly successful dual 2000Gns winner Gleneagles out of a mare that stayed 10f the trip on Saturday can evince further improvement.

It is 27 years since Sir Michael Stoute last won The Sweet Solera but runs a likely looking type in the Sir Evelyn De Rothschild owned and bred Soffika. By the miler, Zoffany, she has won her only start, a 6f Fillies Novices Stakes at Pontefract with a minimum of fuss and as a half sister to Dubka, (also trained by Sir Michael and stayed 14f) she will be well suited by further. Improvement will be required but with these connections it won’t come as a great surprise if it’s forthcoming.

Selection : Light Blush

EW.           : unforgetable if abs, Soffika

John Gray

Unibet Stewards’ Cup Class2 Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

goodwood guruWith a maximum field of 28 runners, charging down Goodwood’s tricky undulations, one could be forgiven for thinking that The Stewards’ Cup is the ultimate “Pin Job” but rather surprisingly, winner finding hasn’t been impossible, as indicated by the fact that 15 of the last 20 victors have been returned at odds of 14/1 or less, and one currently trading at around those odds is the David Baron trained, Gunmetal.

A 6yo son of Clodovil, he has won 6 of his 24 starts and was quite impressive when winning the 20 runner Great St Wilfrid Handicap over Ripons’ undulations last August, where he had Saturday’s opponent, Growl (placed in The Stewards’ for the last 3 years) 2 3/4L back in 3rd. He ran a decent race last time, finishing 6/26 in The Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot off Saturday’s mark of 103, but does appear to have it all to do off a mark that is 6lbs higher than he has ever won from in the past. However, he should be well suited by a race like The Stewards, and his talented trainer has won this twice, albeit back in the Nineties.

The Declan Carroll trained Justanotherbottle was only caught in the shadow of the post in last year’s renewal when losing out by the shortest of short heads to Gifted Master, and thanks to some judicious placing of the 5yo, he gets into Saturday’s contest on a 4lbs lower mark. Declan, who trains at Malton, wouldn’t be the best known of the Yorkshire trainers but plenty from this neck of the woods have landed The Stewards’ in the past, and he is certainly going to war with a well handicapped horse.

Newmarket handler, Roger Varian has never won Saturday’s heat, but has two likely looking candidates this time in the 4yo, Flavius Titus, and the 6yo Spanish City. The former has been campaigned until this season, mostly at 7f, and his overall record is 4 wins from 14 starts, but since being dropped to 6f this term, his figures read an impressive 2/3. He won his last race, a Newmarket Class2, 8 weeks ago, in workmanlike fashion off a mark of 95, and looks nicely handicapped on a 4lbs higher mark at the weekend. Well bred, Flavius Titus is by Lethal Force, out of the mare Furbelow, which makes him a half brother to this year’s winner of the Group1 Commonwealth Cup, Advertise, and it certainly wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he gave Roger his first Stewards Cup.

Stable companion, Spanish City was 3rd, 1 1/4L  behind his stable companion in that Newmarket race and is 3lbs better off on Saturday. He seems to be attracting plenty of interest in the markets so has to be considered, but his best form does seem to be over a furlong further.

charlie hills oddsguruCharlie Hills won with the 3yo, Magical Memory 4 years ago and will be hoping to land a second Stewards with another from the Classic generation, Khaadem. The son of Dark Angel ran well last time to finish 2nd in a Newbury Group3, 1 3/4L behind the German outsider Waldpfad, (has won at Group3 level in his home country). This was a decent performance but Saturday presents an entirely different test and unlike Magical Memory who had raced 11 times before his Goodwood success Khadeem has only had the six runs and races off a mark 5 lbs higher than his erstwhile stable companion.

The Robert Cowell trained 6yo, Raucous, has struck up a very happy partnership with the seriously upwardly mobile young apprentice, Cieren Fallon. Their record from 5 starts reads, 2/12, 2/6 6/9 4/26 1/7 and the last two are of particular interest. They finished 4th at odds of 50/1, 2L behind Cape Byron off a mark of 99 in the 26 runner Wokingham and comfortably defied a 1 pound higher mark when winning a Yarmouth Class2 24 days ago. A 6lbs penalty makes life difficult but Raucous is a Course and distance winner, Mr Cowell trained the winner 5 years ago, and young Fallons 5 lbs claim could prove invaluable.

If the rains come, Jedd O’Keeffe’s Air Raid would be one to be interested in. The 4yo son of Ravens Pass has made pretty dramatic improvement this term and is now rated 17lbs higher than he was when making his seasonal debut in May. He won Hamilton Parks Class2 Stewards Cup on soft ground 15 days ago off a mark of 95 by 1 1/4L and 1 1/4L from two 100 rated animals so doesn’t look too badly treated on 101 at the weekend. The key to him is the going and connections wouldn’t want to see the word Firm anywhere in the description.

The David O’Meara trained Summerghand made an excellent start to his season when running Flavius Titus to a neck at Newmarket in April and meets the winner on 5lbs better terms on Saturday. Both were making their seasonal debuts and the winner has
Improved since but Summerghand hasn’t gone backwards either and it could be close between them.

Selection.   : Flavius Titus

EW.              : Summerghand.  Justanotherbottle

John Gray

Moët and Chandon International Stakes Class2 Handicap 7f Ascot

ascot moetI hope many of you were on last week’s selection, Casablanca Mix, (odds of 10/1 generally available when first advised) who was one of 4 winners for Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard, landing a 103/1 accumulator. The son of Shirocco was always travelling well within himself, and when he took it up at the 3rd last the result was never in doubt. The Handicapper has raised him 8lbs which seems fair, and the 7yo is definitely one to keep on the right side of this Summer and Autumn. Saturday’s International over 7f up the straight course at Ascot, presents an entirely different challenge, but with a pot of £93,375 for the winner, and a possible field of 29 runners, we can be pretty sure that whoever wins, he or she will have earned their corn. Previous form over Ascot’s straight course is always a positive, and one with an excellent record is last year’s 3rd, Ripp Orf.

A 5yo, son of Rip Van Winkle, his record at Ascot reads, 5/26 2/15 1/20 3/27 and 1/27, a pretty impressive record for sure, but racing off the same mark as last year (92) when he finished a length behind Burnt Sugar you can’t say that he looks particularly well handicapped. However he did run well off a 3lbs higher mark when 5th in The Victoria Cup in May, and his course form has to be respected.

With rain forecast for the weekend we could see some easing of the ground which should suit David Baron’s 5yo, Kynren. Lightly raced, he has won 3 of his 14 starts but his best performance to date came when beaten a neck by the upwardly mobile,
Cape Byron, on Good-Soft ground over course and distance in The Victoria Cup in May. He ran another sound race when finishing 5/27 in the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile last time off a mark of 101 and back over 7f off the same mark on Saturday could be a potent force if getting his ground.

The Jamie Osborne trained 7yo, Raising Sand, is another who reserves his best for the Berkshire track and is 3/10 at the course. He ran a fine race when finishing 2nd in The Royal Hunt Cup last time, and is another who won’t be inconvenienced by a soft surface, but does need the Handicapper to relent a little.

kevin ryan ascotThe Kevin Ryan trained 4yo, Hey Jonesy, has done most of his racing at 6f (including at Group level) but tackling 7f for only the 2nd time in his 15 race career last time, he saw the trip out really well when beaten 1/2L by the 104 rated Marie’s Diamond to whom he was conceding 7lbs in a Haydock conditions event. A literal interpretation of the form would make his mark on Saturday of 103 look very fair and he has been rated as high as 110 in the past. He finished on the heels of the leaders (beaten 3 3/4L) in the 6f Wokingham Handicap at The Royal Meeting off a mark of 106, and it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if his excellent trainer, who is no stranger to success at these big southern meetings, landed another.

Meeting older horses for the first time in his brief 4 race career, the 3yo Land Of Legends came through with flying colours when comfortably winning a Class2 7f Newmarket Handicap 30 days ago. By Iffraaj out of an unraced daughter of the Group 2 winning mare, Last Resort, he is well bred, and could prove to be much better than his current rating of 96. There has been plenty of interest in him in the markets, (10/1 at the time of writing) and a lightly raced 3yo like him is likely to continue to improve, but he does need 12 above him in the handicap to come out to get a run, and his lack of experience has to be against him.

The Roger Charlton trained Makzeem, was well beaten in last year’s renewal on
Good/Firm ground, but the way the 6yo quickened clear to land a Newbury Class2 on easy ground 9 days ago was impressive, and even on a 6lbs higher mark, if similar conditions prevail on Saturday, is worth a second look.

The Willie Haggas trained 3yo Fanaar surprised a few when finishing 3rd in the 28 runner Brittania Handicap at odds of 50/1, 37 days ago. He was hampered at the start of the one mile contest, and had to be switched two furlongs out to get a run, so did really well to finish 1 1/4L and 2L behind the well handicapped Biometric, and the favourite Turgenev. He has had a nice 37 day break, is another 3yo likely to be improving, and it’s worth noting that his sole success has come over 7f.

mark johnston ascotThe Mark Johnston trained 4yo, Vale Of Kent, showed that races like Saturday’s are right up his street, when landing Newmarket’s 7f Bunbury Cup a fortnight ago. Leading from the outset, Dettori got the sections exactly right, and when headed two furlongs out, the son of Kodiac battled back and stayed on well to win by 1/2L from the 4/1Fav Solar Gold in a good time. A slight concern would be his lack of form at the track but he is a half brother of the Group1 winning Vale Of York, is only 4lbs higher than Newmarket, and Ascot Maestro, Frankie, is again doing the steering.

Selection : Vale Of Kent

EW.           : Hey Jonesy.   Fanaar.

John Gray