Racing Tips William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap 6f Ripon Saturday


Named after the patron Saint of the charming North Yorkshire Cathedral City of Ripon, it hasn't always been the most punter friendly contest, but with three of the last five Jollys obliging, we backers have had the best of the more recent arguments. With David O'Meara hitting the back of the net three times, and Malton Maestro, Richard Fahey scoring twice, between them they have had a near monopoly of the last six renewals, and both are strongly represented again.

O'Meara won with Out Do three years ago off a mark of 94, and racing on Saturday off a 10lbs higher mark certainly isn't out of it. He showed himself to be as good as ever when winning this year's renewal of the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot off a mark of 99, so Saturday's 5lbs higher mark doesn't look impossible, and he is the intended mount of Daniel Tudhope who has ridden three of the last six winners. Keep a weather eye out though, as all his best form is on good or faster ground.

Rain won't be a problem for Mr O'Meara's second runner, Al Qahwa, and he can easily be excused his 23rd in The Steward's Cup last time out. Racing off a mark of 97, he was one of the best backed runners on the day but suffered repeated interference in what was a pretty rough contest. He has been a bit disappointing since his reappearance win at York in May, (6f soft) off a mark of 94, but it wouldn't come as any great surprise if he was involved at the business end at the weekend, particularly if it comes up soft.

Having finished less than a length behind the winner in the Stewards Cup off a mark of 99, the Richard Fahey trained Growl heads the market. He had previously run an excellent 6th in the Group1 July Cup at Newmarket finishing less than 2 1/4L behind the exciting winner, Harry Angel, and less than a length behind Brando, who went on to win the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville next time out. His new mark of 109, giving him a racing weight of 9-10, looks challenging, but this classy animal is a serious contender.

Brando's talented trainer, Kevin Ryan had his stable virtually closed down for much of the season with the devastating disease, Equine Herpes, but is now beginning to hit a rich vein of form, and is represented by the 3yo, Tommy Taylor. His poor performance last time at Newmarket was almost certainly down to the situation in the yard but previously he had put up an excellent performance when beaten a head by Ekhtiyaar at headquarters in a valuable Class2 handicap racing off a mark of 95. The son of Mizzen Mast handles most ground, and with the stable now clear of that ghastly infection, might well prove up to defying his mark of 100.

Not all horses handle Ripons undulations so the fact that Tim Easterby's 4yo Flying Pursuit boasts a record of two wins and a place from five course appearances speaks strongly in his favour. The son of pastoral pursuits looks progressive, and put up an excellent performance last time winning off a mark of 90 by 2L from Al Qahwa (York 6f Good-Soft) three weeks ago. A six pounds rise looks fair and must give Tim a serious chance of emulating his success with Pipalong way back in 1999.

Roger Varian runs the lightly raced 5yo son of Kodiac, Atletico, and if getting into the race, (at the time of writing needs nine above him in the handicap to come out) could be interesting. Placed on his only previous visit to Ripon, Atletico won nicely at Windsor on July 24th off a mark of 87 and probably, turned out too soon only a week later, was beaten 2L, when finishing 5th at Goodwood off a mark of 93. He has attracted interest in the market, and coming from this powerful yard is worth a second look racing off a mark of 92.

The Charlie Hills (pictured above) trained Shanghai Glory put up an excellent performance for a 3yo when winning a listed 6f contest at the Curragh last October. He was well beaten on his reappearance in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, but then ran a very solid race to finish 5th, (3/4L behind Growl) in The Stewards Cup at Goodwood racing off a mark of 101. Jockey Fran Berry felt that he was unlucky in running at the Sussex track, and as he does like to get his toe in, the son of Exceed and Excel, racing off the same mark of 101, definitely needs considering if turning up, (also engaged Doncaster Saturday).

Selection : Shanghai Glory (if abs) Flying Pursuit

E.W. : Al Qahwa

John Gray

Racing Tips Keenland Phoenix Stakes (Group1) (2yo) 6f Curragh Sunday

First run at the charming, but now sadly defunct, Phoenix Park racecourse (parade ring pictured below) in 1902, it was known to generations of Dublin's racegoers as the "1500". It was run over the minimum distance and was won by some very fast horses such as Windy City (1951) Current Coin (1965) and Marble Arch (1972). Interestingly Windy City went on to achieve a Timeform rating of 142, which remains one of the highest in the organisation's history. Having been promoted to Group1 status in 1979 the distance was extended by a furlong in 1983 and following the closure of The Phoenix Park racecourse in 1990 the race was moved to Leopardstown until arriving at it's current venue at The Curragh in 2002.

Having won the contest an amazing fifteen times, including last year with Caravaggio, who won this year's renewal of the Group1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Aidan O' Brien again holds a very strong hand. He has seven of the twelve entries including Sioux Nation, the winner of the 5f Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. However this son of Scat Daddy looked well suited by the drop in trip at The Royal Meeting, so perhaps The Master of Ballydoyle's best chance of landing a sixteenth success lies with the improving filly, Actress. With six runs under her belt the daughter of Declaration Of War certainly wont be beaten by lack of experience, and her last three runs have shown her to be a filly very much on "the up". She ran a solid race to finish sixth in Royal Ascot's 6f Albany Stakes, and put up another decent performance when finding the drop back to 5f against her when beaten a neck in a Tipperary listed contest. However it was her run in the 6f Group3 Anglesey stakes here at The Curragh last time that was a real eye opener. Starting at 7/1 ( from an opening 11/2) she travelled sweetly throughout, and when Seamie Heffernan asked her to go and win her race, she quickened in the style of a top class filly to put 1 3/4L between her and the runner up Theobold at the line. As the runner up had won his maiden by 8L and subsequently finished second to Derby antepost favourite, The Pentagon, the form looks pretty solid. Getting her 3lbs filly allowance she can make them all go on Sunday.

A major fly in the ointment may be Gordon Elliott's exciting son of Bated Breath, Beckford. He made his racecourse debut over course and distance and starting at the generous odds of 10/1 hosed up from Red Persian. The runner up hasn't done a lot for the form but did manage to get his head in front over 7f at Leopardstown. However it was Beckford's next run which marked him out as being a bit special. Up in class to Group2 level in The Railway Stakes again over course and distance he won comfortably by a length from Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity with Aidan O'Briens Murillo a further 1 1/4L back in third. As Murillo had been beaten less than 1/2L in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot the form looks solid, although it has to be said the O'Brien horse may not have been ideally suited by the good-soft ground at The Curragh. Another point of interest vis a vis O'Briens filly Actress, is that Commander Grigio was beaten 7L by her in the Anglesey whereas the same horse finished only 5L behind Beckford in the Railway. However with Mr Elliott turning his prodigious training talents towards the flat, it's going to be very interesting to see how the Beckford story pans out.

The Tom Dascombe trained Frozen Angel ran well to finish fourth in the 5f Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, (2 3/4L behind Sioux Nation) and took another step forward when upped to 5 1/2f in the Group2 Prix Robert Papin at Madison's-Laffitte when going down by 1/2L to Unfortunately. By Dark Angel out of the Verglas mare, Cut no ice, his pedigree suggests that six furlongs could prove his optimum trip. The dam was no great shakes as a racehorse but did win a small 5f contest at Folkestone and was placed twice over 6f at Newbury and Newmarket, while his prolific sire has got plenty of milers including Lincoln winner Gabrial, and Cambridgeshire winner, Bronze Angel. With Tom Dascombe's talent with sprinters in mind, this son of Dark Angel is certainly worth a second look.

Mick Channon must have a high opinion of his Bath winner Helvetian to fly this high, and this son of Swiss Spirit was quite impressive on the good-soft surface. Given similar conditions on Sunday he could be interesting.

Selection : Actress

Danger. : Beckford

John Gray

Betting Tips Qatar Stewards Cup Handicap 6f Goodwood Saturday

There is little doubt that we saw a really exceptional filly win last week's King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and if reproducing this level of form in the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in the Autumn, Enable looks a certainty. However let's not forget what a fine race our E.W. selection, Ulysses ran to finish second on ground that didn't suit. He proved that twelve furlongs was well within his compass, but just found the concession of fourteen pounds to the outstanding filly beyond him. He is worth bearing in mind for the 12f Breeders Cup Turf at Del Rey, California, in November, a race he was fourth in last year. He is much more the finished article now, and with good ground almost assured, looks good value at the 7/1 available.

Saturday's cavalry charge, down the hill at Goodwood, provides a totally different challenge. It's about speed, ruggedness and toughness to handle the hurly burly of the twenty eight runner field, and ability to act on the eccentric track. Three year olds have won the last two renewals, but over the last thirty years, the four and five year old brigade have had the best of the argument, and one that catches the eye is current market leader Projection.

He ran a great race in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot, where drawn 28, he won the contest on the stand side, but was beaten 1/2L and a Hd by the winner and runner up, both of whom were drawn low on the far side. A winner on an easy surface (won on Gd-Sft Salisbury), he proved his ability to handle the track, when despite a distinctly troubled passage in last year's consolation race over course and distance, he was only beaten 2 1/2L, finishing fifth behind Hoof It off a mark of 103, where he was sent off the 11/2fav under Ryan Moore. A year older he is only two pounds higher on Saturday, and trained by Roger Charlton, who sent out Harmonic Way (1999), Patavellian (2003), and Genki (2009) to win, has to be on the short list.

The runner up in the Wokingham was the Saeed bin Suroor trained 4yo, Steady Pace, and the son of Dark Angel was stepped up to 7f three weeks ago where he ran well to finish third at Newmarket, but didn't seem to quite get home. Back over six furlongs he has to be feared but with plenty of rain forecast his ability to handle easy ground has to be taken on trust.

There are no such worries about the Willie Haggas (pictured above) trained Raucous, and as his talented trainer has already sent out the winner on two previous occasions, he certainly knows what is required. The 4yo son of Dream Ahead was an excellent third in this last year off a mark of 102 when only beaten 1 1/4L and he looked set for a successful campaign when winning at Chelmsford on his seasonal debut in April. Things haven't gone his way since, and he was a disappointing 11/2 favourite for the Wokingham. However his 4th on soft ground in a Newbury Group3 last time, where he had little room when mounting a challenge two furlongs out, wasn't too bad, and his proven track form and ability to handle soft conditions could prove potent weapons on Saturday.

The David O'Meara trained Edward Lewis disappointed three weeks ago when well beaten over 5f at Ascot, but had put up a respectable effort when finishing 6th in the Wokingham, and prior to that ran a fine race when beaten less than a length in "The Dash" down Epsom's roller coaster five furlongs. Badly drawn in stall 11 he was hampered over 1f out but ran on strongly in the hands of claimer Josh Doyle. Another who should be suited by the track and who handles soft ground, this 4yo son of Kyllachy will have the excellent Daniel Tudhope taking over steering duties from young Doyle and is one to keep on the right side of.

For a horse who has been successful at Group3 level and continues to be competitive in the Grade, the 6yo Aeolus doesn't look badly treated on a mark of 103. He ran well when beaten a neck by the useful Mythmaker at Haydock in May, and again performed with credit last time, finishing 4th in a Newcastle Group3 (A.W.) where he would have been closer but for being short of room when making his challenge two furlongs out. An infrequent contender in these big handicaps, he was a respectable 9th in last year's Ayr Gold Cup off a mark of 107. With proven ability on soft ground he is a big price and is worth considering.

The David Simcock trained Polybius hasn't won since 2015 but has been a model of consistency in his last three races. Rested after a good third at Meydan in February he was only beaten a length when fourth from a high draw (nk behind Projection) in the Wokingham, and again ran well last time when beaten a length by Saturday's opponent Danzeno, whom he meets on 6lbs better terms. However he will need the track to dry out (which at the time of writing seems unlikely) as he was well beaten the only time he has run on anything slower than good.

Selection : Raucous

E.W. : Edward Lewis

John Gray