Betting Tips King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes 1m4f Ascot Saturday

Paul Nicholls won his first Summer Plate at Market Rasen last Saturday in fine style with the very progressive 7yo, Alcala. The grey travelled really well throughout and looked the most likely winner a long way from home. There was only a neck in it at the post, but I feel that jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies had a bit to spare, and there could be more to come from this likeable grey. Bringing home the bacon at the rewarding odds of 9/1 he certainly left followers of The Oddsguru blog on good terms with themselves, so here's hoping we can keep the momentum going in Saturday's Ascot showpiece.

First run in 1951 as a Group1 open to all ages, the Classic generation, with twenty nine wins on the scoresheet have historically had the best of the argument, but it has to be said that with only four victories since the turn of the new millennium, their record hasn't been nearly so impressive. Sir Michael Stoute and Saeed bin Suroor share the training honours with five victories apiece closely pursued by the Master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien, with four.

Sir Michael's best chance of taking the outright lead lies with recent Eclipse winner,
(and Oddsguru's selection) Ulysses. Typical of the slow maturing type that Maestro Stoute excels with, Ulysses, who had been a tad disappointing as a 3yo, showed that the penny was beginning to drop when winning the Group3 Sir Gordon Richard Stakes over Sandown's demanding 10f on his reappearance in April, and confirmed that he was indeed on an upward track eight weeks later, when finishing third in the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes to Highland Reel and Decorated Knight, beaten 1 1/4L and a Shd. Probably needing the race after his two months break, he took a very strong hold, and mounted his challenge too early in the straight, giving the winner a target to aim at, but seventeen days later looked much more the finished article when winning the 10f Group1 Eclipse Stakes. Always travelling well, he again came with his run a little too early and had to hold off the late challenge of 2000gns runner up Barney Roy, who clearly improved for the step up in trip. Ulysses won Goodwood's 12f Gordon Stakes as a 3yo and as a son of Galileo out of the Oaks Heroine, Light Shift, Saturday's trip could prove ideal. A concern would be testing conditions. Although he has performed on easy ground in the past, connections are hoping the rain stays away.

The Ballydoyle operation is represented by one of the toughest and most genuine animals on the planet, the 5yo Highland Reel, and by his year younger full brother, Idaho. The former, yet another son of the great Galileo is attempting to become only the third horse to win back to back runnings of the contest, and boasting six Group1 victories on three continents, must have serious prospects of bringing off the double. However he does like to hear his hooves rattle so with so much rain about a waiting brief is advised.

His younger sibling, the 4yo Idaho, was certainly not winning out of turn when taking Royal Ascot's Group2 Hardwicke Stakes last time out. He was an unlucky loser of last year's St Leger, unseating Seamie Heffernan when coming down the straight on the bridle, and again the fates were against him when making his seasonal debut in the Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting in June, where due to some cock up in the flying arrangements, he only got to the course an hour before the race. Third in Last year's Derby, and second in the Irish equivalent, this beautifully bred animal may only now, as a 4yo be beginning to realise his full potential, and as he seems to handle most ground is one for the short list.

John Gosden, a two times winner of the race, is represented by dual Oaks winner, Enable, and 5yo Jack Hobbs. The former, a daughter of Nathaniel, has looked a real class act when winning both the English and Irish Oaks. She won at Epsom by 5L from O'Briens Rhododendron, and was equally impressive at The Curragh, winning by 5 1/2L from Rain Goddess. It has to be a concern that it is only two weeks since her stunning Curragh victory, but very much in her favour is the fourteen pounds she will be receiving from most of her older rivals.

Second to Golden Horn in the 2015 Epsom Derby, and winner of the same year's Irish Derby, Jack Hobbs has had his problems since, but looked to have put them behind him when winning at Meydan on his reappearance in March, (yielding ground) but then was a major disappointment at Royal Ascot. He was sent off the 2/1 fav for the Prince of Wales Stakes but finished last of the eight runners behind Highland Reel. The fast ground and very hot day were blamed for the poor performance. However the horse has continued to attract plenty of support in the market, and with nothing faster than good ground likely at the weekend, is worth considering.

David Simcock would love to see the heavens open over the Berkshire track as his 5yo Desert Encounter revels in soft ground. The son of Halling is a little short of the required standard but he did run a decent race last time to finish third, 3 /12L behind Ulysses in the Eclipse, and as we all know, heavy ground is a great leveller.

Selection : Idaho

E.W. : Ulysses

John Gray

Betfred Summer Plate Handicap Chase 2m 5 1/2f Market Rasen Saturday

Following last week’s stellar program on the flat, this week’s offering are of a considerably lower order, so let’s take a look at one of the Summer Seasons top jumping events, The Betfred Summer Plate.

Paul Nicholls has failed to hit the back of the net with any of his eleven contenders over the past decade, although three of them have been placed. However this year his 7yo son of Turgeon, the French bred, Alcala, looks a likely type to fill in this particular gap in the Master of Ditcheat’s C.V. A winner of three of his seven chases, he looked an improved animal when comfortably taking a Newton Abbot, Class3 handicap (2m5f Gd/Sft) at the beginning of June, off a mark of 135, and confirmed that good impression when, taking the step up to Class2 level in his stride, he comfortably defied a seven pounds higher mark, again at Newton Abbot, (2m5f Gd/Fm) twelve days later. He kept on well to deny the 2/1 fav, Brother Ted by 4 1/2L, and had the useful Midnight Cowboy another length back in third. This was an excellent effort by the French bred,
(they have a good record in the contest), who has won going right handed, so with proven ability in a large field, Alcala off his new mark of 147 is definitely worth considering.

Nicky Henderson’s 7yo, Days of Heaven is another very much on the up. A winner of seven of his fifteen starts, he has won his last three chases, showing progressive form on each occasion. He won at Kempton (2m good) off a mark of 136 in March, at Stratford, (2m 3 1/2f good) off 142 in May, and last time, fifty five days ago, he won off a mark of 148 at Haydock (2m4f good). Clearly progressive, the slight reservation about his prospects on Saturday is the trip.He doesn’t seem to have had much petrol left in the tank at the end of his races, and might just be found out by the extra 1 1/2f in a race always run at a pretty frenetic pace, particularly off his new mark of 151.

Henryville, trained by Henry Fry finished 4L behind Days of Heaven in that Haydock heat 55 days ago, and now meets his conquerer on 4lbs better terms. As a four times winner at the trip there are no stamina doubts about the Fry horse, but his new mark of 152 giving him top weight of 11-12, looks a big ask so Henry’s best chance of collecting on Saturday, may lie with his second contender, the ex Irish 8yo, Art Of Payroll. Trained in the Emerald Isle until recently joining the “Fry” operation, he was rated on a mark of 128. He won a beginners Chase over 20f at Down Royal at the beginning of May, his first win from twelve attempts over the larger obstacles, (placed seven times). His record isn’t exactly awe inspiring but he did have the well supported favourite 24L back in third at Down Royal, and will be well suited by Saturday’s trip, so with his nice weight of 10-09 and in the hands of ace trainer Fry, is well worth considering.

Jonjo O’Neill runs his 2014 winner, It’s A Gimme, and the 10yo races off a mark of 134, only 2lbs higher than for that victory. He hasn’t won since, but showed that he was no back number when finishing second at Stratford off a mark of 133 six weeks ago, and it would come as no surprise to see him in the mix again. However the same owner/trainer combination, O’Neill and McManus, are also represented by course winner, I’dliketheoption, and this 6yo son of Presenting has plenty to recommend him. He took some time to get into a rhythm over the course 9 weeks ago, (2m3f good) but the further he went the better he got and finished strongly to win by 3 1/2L and 22L from Voix d’Eau and Yorkist. As a son of Presenting he will enjoy the likely good ground and looks nicely treated on a mark of 132 giving him the light weight of 10-06 to carry.

Owner McManus, has a third string to his bow with the 8yo Cup Final, another son of Presenting. Previously trained by Nicky Henderson, he is now in the hands of Ben Haslam and he demonstrated his wellbeing when going down by a nose to Midnight Shot in a two and a half mile Novices Chase at Hexham thirty three days ago, where the pair were 17L clear of the third horse. With a win in a 24 runner Punchestown handicap on his C.V. Saturday’s large field should hold no fears. As three of his four wins have been achieved going righthanded, and there are no stamina doubts, this lightly weighted animal, (10-06), is another well worth considering.

Selection : Alcala

E.W. : I’dliketheoption

John Gray

Racing Tips John Smith’s Cup Handicap 1m2f York Saturday

Trainer Jeremy Noseda goes for glory in Saturday’s big one

As the old saying goes, “you can’t keep a good man down” and, in recording his first Group1 victory on home soil for over three years with the gallant Ulysses in last weeks epic Eclipse Stakes, seventy one years old Sir Michael Stoute equalled Alec Taylor’s longstanding record of six wins in the historic contest. As Oddsguru’s selection, his son of Galileo left followers of the blog on good terms with themselves, winning at the rewarding odds of 8/1. Out of The Oaks winner Light Shift, a step back up in trip to 12f is on the cards, and having broken through the Group1 barrier, the future looks bright for Ulysses and it will come as no surprise if further success at the highest level awaits. It is probably safe to assume that none of the contenders for Saturday’s big handicap on The Knavesmire will be troubling the judges in any Group1 races but nevertheless, as one of Europe’s most valuable handicaps, it is a class event and the last three runnings have been won by animals rated 108, 104, and 111.

Yorkshireman, and York specialist, William Haggas has won two of the last six renewals and his 4yo lightly raced son of Medicean, Victory Bond, has the look of one who has been laid out for this. He only had the three runs as a 3yo, winning a 10f Ripon maiden, finishing 6th over course and distance in The Dante in May, and coming 4th in a Chantilly Group3 the following month after which he was put away for the season. He put up an excellent performance on his return to action in May eight weeks ago, finishing 3rd in a highly competitive 1mile handicap over the course where he was putting in all his best work at the finish racing off a mark of 100. Only 2lbs higher at the weekend and sure to be well suited by the extra 2f he looks one for the shortlist.

Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni teamed up to win this in 2014 with the 5yo Faaraaj and the pair combine this time with the slightly disappointing 4yo, UAE prince. Thought to be a group horse in the making he won a Class3 Ripon handicap on his reappearance in April but then disappointed in a 12f Ascot listed race despite strong market support, and paid the ultimate price by being gelded. Beautifully bred by Sea The Stars out of a Giant’s Causeway mare he may have been unsuited by the Ascot track and back at 10f he is worth considering off his mark of 97 giving him a nice racing weight of 8-12.

Varian has acquired the services of top York pilot, Daniel Tudhope for his second runner, Central Square, who has performed with credit over the course in the past. Last October he gave himself plenty to do when missing the break in a course and distance race but kept on well to finish 3rd off a mark of 104. He ran well again on his reappearance over an inadequate 9f at Newmarket in May finishing 3rd, but again missed the break under Atzeni at Royal Ascot when a well fancied 7/1 shot for the Wolferton, and could only finish 11th, 4 1/2L behind the winner Snoano who he meets on 5lbs better terms on Saturday. With Tudhope in the plate he has to be worth considering!

The Jeremy Noseda-trained Sixties Groove had little luck in running in the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at the Royal Meeting and the 9/2 shot performed well to finish 5th in the 19 runner handicap, racing off a mark of 98. He races off the same mark at the weekend and with top French pilot, Gerald Mosse taking over the steering duties is worth a second look.

Sir Michael Stoute’s 4yo Ballet Concerto has been running as if a step up in trip might suit. He won first time out this campaign over a mile at Doncaster staying on well in the last 100yds to win off a mark of 97 and again put up an excellent effort to finish 4th in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot off a mark of 102. He was again staying on strongly at the end of the 29 runner event and as a son of Dansili who has sired plenty of middle distance winners including Arc winner Rail Link, (2003) and King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth winner Harbinger in 2010 may well find Saturday’s 10f within his compass.

The Stoute stable also runs the 4yo mustashry and he ran an eye catching race over a mile at last year’s Ebor meeting when running on well from the rear he was only beaten 1/2L by the useful Firmament off a mark of 100.

Selection : Sixties Groove

E.W. : Central Square

John Gray

Coral-Eclipse (Group1) 1m2f Sandown Saturday.

Although the Classic generation has provided three of the last eight winners of this historic contest, the race has favoured the older generations, with the score being thirty four to eighteen in their favour, since the race was opened to all age groups in 1965. When we say older generations, we only mean four and five year olds, as we have to go all the way back to the inaugural running in 1886 to find an older winner, the 6yo Bendigo. A definite negative for the David Simcock trained 6yo Lightning Spear! With five winners apiece, Aidan O’Brien, and Sir Michael Stoute (pictured above) , share the training honours, one behind record holder, Alec Taylor, who trained the last of his six winners in 1923.

Shortest priced of the older brigade at the time of writing, is Sir Michael’s 4yo colt Ulysses, and this son of Galileo is typical of the slow maturing type that his superb trainer excels with. The lightly raced colt seemed to have made considerable progress from three to four, when taking the Group3, Sir Gordon Richards Stakes over course and distance on his reappearance in April, where he comfortably beat Saturday’s opponent, Deauville, and he confirmed that good impression eight weeks later, when finishing third, 1 1/4L and a Shd behind the magnificent Highland Reel and Decorated Knight in The Group1 Prince Of Wales Stakes at the Royal Meeting. After his eight weeks break he was probably fresher than ideal and despite taking a very keen hold for much of the race mounted a strong challenge from over one furlong out. He was outpaced by the exceptional winner, but keeping on stoutly only lost second place in the shadow of the post to Decorated Knight. With the benefit of that run seventeen days ago expect a more settled performance on Saturday, and it will come as no great surprise if this son of Galileo puts Sir Michael in the record book.

Aidan O’Briens best chance of equaling the Taylor record would seem to lie with his Derby runner up, Cliffs Of Moher. Ryan Moore must have thought he had the great race in the bag until Paul Beggy came with that late devastating run on Wings Of Eagles, who sadly sustained a career ending injury, when finishing third in last Saturday’s Irish Derby. However with the Derby form working out well, it was an excellent performance by Cliffs Of Moher, and considering his dam never won beyond five furlongs, (Dundalk All-Weather) the son of Galileo might just be suited by the drop back in trip at the weekend.

There has been strong market support for the fourth home at Epsom, the Martyn Meade trained Eminent, and as a son of Frankel he also could be suited by a drop back in trip. Beautifully bred, out of a Kingmambo mare who finished third in the Group1 Fillies Mile, he looked an animal with a serious future when winning Newmarket’s one mile Craven Stakes on his reappearance in April, but then showed that he needed further when only sixth in the 2000gns. Despite being never comfortable on Epsom’s undulations he still looked to have every chance one hundred yards from the finish. Back on a more conventional track on Saturday he looks a threat to all.

I wonder if Roger Charlton realised two years ago to the month, that he had a future Group1 winner in his care, when the then 3yo, Decorated Knight, won a modest Class3 handicap at the Esher track, off a mark of 85. Sustained progress over the intervening two years has seen him become a dual winner at the highest level, and it was another super effort last time, to get to within 1 1/4L of Highland Reel at the Royal Meeting. 10f is his optimum trip and as he showed when winning his last Group1 on yielding ground at the Curragh, any easing of the ground shouldn’t be a problem, indeed may be welcome.

The Richard Hannon trained Barney Roy with a second in the 2000gns and a win last time in the Group1 St James Palace Stakes, has certainly outrun his relatively modest purchase price of 30,000gns as a foal, and there seems to be plenty of confidence that he can continue to thrive over two furlongs further on Saturday. It seems a big ask as he is the son of the miler, Excelebration, but on the positive side his dam is by that strong influence for stamina Galileo, and he certainly wasn’t stopping at the end of the St James Palace Stakes.

Jack Hobbs was a bitter disappointment in The Prince Of Wales Stakes but wasn’t happy on the fast ground. If the forecast thunder storms arrive this winner of over £4,000,000 in prize money is worth considering.

Selection : Ulysses

E.W. : Decorated Knight

John Gray