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

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

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

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

Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate Handicap 2m 1/2f Newcastle Saturday


First run in 1833 The Northumberland Plate has never been an easy heat to solve, but, with four “jollies” in the last decade getting their head in front perhaps it’s getting a little more punter friendly. Last year saw the inaugural running of the contest on Newcastle’s new, All-Weather Tapeta surface, and the hugely valuable prize went to the Charlie Appleby trained Antiquarian for the “boys in blue” from Godolphin. Significantly his only experience of the Tapeta Surface had been gained at Wolverhampton in his first two races. He came second first time up, and then won next time, demonstrating his ability to handle the surface. Current market leader, Flymetothestars has had a similarly happy experience of the Tapeta Surface, winning his two races on it, both here at Newcastle.

The Sir Mark Prescott trained 4yo showed plenty of pace to win over 12f at Newcastle last October, and then demonstrated his strong stamina credentials, when winning on his reappearance over Saturday’s course and distance six weeks ago. Racing off a mark of 91 he stayed on strongly to beat Endless Acres by 2L, with Saturday’s opponent, Champagne Champ, 7L back in third. Beautifully bred, by Sea The Stars out of the Saddlers Wells mare Precious Gem, (won four of her eleven starts for Dermot Weld), Flymetothestars almost certainly, after only four runs, has plenty of improvement to come, and doesn’t look badly treated off a mark of 100. The one slight reservation would be his lack of experience, but his canny trainer knows how to prepare one for these big handicaps.

Top northern handler, and local boy, Brian Ellison, would dearly love to win “The Plate” and did go very close with his doughty stayer, Seamour, in last year’s renewal where he raced off a mark of 99. The 6yo son of Azamour, looked home and hosed when going 3L clear at the furlong marker only to be run down by Antiquarian in the shadow of the post. He only had two more runs last season, resulting in a fine second in a Class2 14f Doncaster handicap off a mark of 103, and then went down by a diminishing nose, when just failing to get up in a 2m Newmarket listed contest. He made a highly satisfactory start to this year’s campaign when finishing third to Dal Harraid over 14f at York five weeks ago, a race he used as a prep for last year’s contest. Despite being 4lbs higher this time around, but with the benefit of last year’s experience, (was also 6th in 2015 ) Seamour has to have a serious chance of fulfilling his talented trainers dream.

James Fanshawe won this in 1995 with Bold Gait carrying the welter weight of 9-10, and following the heroics of Big Orange in last week’s Ascot Gold Cup, must be hopeful that his Higher Power, who ran second to the Gold Cup winner in a Sandown Group3 last time out, might provide him with a second success. However Big Orange won that Sandown contest very easily and as the Fanshawe horse was beaten off a mark of 100 in his previous race, Saturday’s 107, giving him a racing weight of 9-9 looks a big ask. Indeed the only animal to carry more than 9-5 since his illustrious predecessor in 1995, was the Jonjo O’Neill’ trained Tormentor (9-10) in 2013, so perhaps the second Fanshawe contender, Lord George, is of greater interest, as he looks the type to improve for the step up in distance.

National Hunt trainers, with four wins in the past decade, have had their fair share of success, and the above mentioned O’Neill has an interesting runner in the ex French, Minotaur. With a win and two seconds at Listed level in France, he has a touch of class, and after a relatively slow start, the JP Mc Manus owned gelding seems to be getting his act together over hurdles, with two easy wins in his last two races. The 5yo son of Azamour was particularly impressive fifteen days ago, easily winning an Aintree 2 1/2m Novices, and with a win on the All-Weather in France on his CV, is worth considering.

Godolphin are attempting to repeat last year’s success, this time with the 4yo filly Natural Scenery, and significantly her record on a Tapeta surface is 3/3, winning at Wolverhampton and twice here at Gosforth Park. Last time out she started favourite for Lingfields very valuable All-Weather marathon in April, but drawn wide and having to come from behind, she met plenty of trouble and could only finish sixth. She is probably better judged on her previous run over course and distance when ridden by Josephine Gordon she won a Class2 handicap very easily by 2L from subsequent Imperial Cup winner London Prize off a mark of 95. Indeed Gordon has a 100% record on the filly having ridden her to all three wins on Tapeta. Natural Scenery is another beautifully bred animal, by Dubawi out of a Saddlers Wells mare, and it’s not too difficult to imagine her defying her mark of 103 on Saturday, and maintaining her talented riders 100% record.

Selection : Flymetothestars
E.W. : Natural Scenery (if abs Seamour)

John Gray

Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group1) 6f Royal Ascot Saturday

Trainer Henry Candy has a fine chance landing the spoils for a second consecutive year.

Henry Candy and Ryan Moore teamed up to win this last year with Twilight Son, and they must be entertaining strong hopes of bringing off the double with the talented son of Tagula, Limato, this year. The 5yo started last seasons campaign over a mile at Newbury where he finished fourth. He then returned to his optimum trip of six furlongs in The Group1 July Cup at Newmarket, and he showed what he was capable of. He put up a blinding performance to beat Suedois by 2L, when, taking it up over 1f out, he stormed clear, earning the highest speed rating of any 6f sprinter all season, and leaving four of Saturday’s opponents, Suedois, Washington DC, Magical Memory, and Jungle Cat in his wake. He couldn’t quite get to grips with the speedy Mecca’s Angel in the Group1 5f Nunthorpe Stakes at York, but still put up another very solid performance on the clock when finishing second. He showed what a versatile performer he is when taking the 7f Group1 Prix De La Foret on Arc Day in his next race, but may just have had the one visit to the well too many, when only finishing 6th over a mile at The Breeders Cup in November. He made his seasonal debut nearly five months later in a 6f Meydan Group1, and on ground he wouldn’t have liked, can be excused his poor showing in tenth place. On his two previous course and distance appearances at Ascot, (both on good/firm) he has won a Group3, and finished second in the inaugural running of the Group1 Commonwealth Cup, he’s trained by one of the best handlers of sprinters around, and has the best jockey in the world in the plate, so what’s not to like!

Having won with Society Rock in 2011 James Fanshawe knows what is required and his 5yo, The Tin Man is of definite interest.The son of Equiano made a great start to last year’s campaign winning easily at Windsor and was then sent off a warm order at 7/2 to win last years renewal of the Diamond Jubilee, but could only finish a disappointing eighth. However he subsequently proved the form all wrong by winning his next race, a Newbury Group3, finishing second to the outstanding filly, Quiet Reflection, in Haydock’s Group1 Sprint, and finally, taking the Group1 Champion Sprint over course and distance in October. He made a satisfactory reappearance in a York Group2 where he had to carry a 5lbs penalty for his Group1 success finishing 5th to Saturday’s opponent Tasleet, who had the benefit of a previous outing. While The Tin Man acts on a good/firm surface, (has won three times on it) the suspicion lingers that he prefers softer and is worth particular consideration if there is any rain.

Despite a tardy start in last year’s contest the Charlie Hills trained Magical Memory ran a great race to finish fourth, only 1/2L behind the winner on good/soft ground, and indeed, some observers feel that had he been held onto a little longer might have gone very close to winning. The rest of his season went the wrong way but this impressive winner of The Stewards Cup as a 3yo and the winner of two consecutive group races last year, made an encouraging start to this campaign when finishing second to Tasleet in a York Group2 thirty eight days ago on soft ground. Well suited by a good/firm surface, it looks as if he will have his optimum conditions on Saturday and is one for the shortlist.

Tasleet’s win in that York Group2 was achieved purely on merit in a decent time for the conditions, and represented a step up on any of his previous form. The son of Showcasing is clearly progressive but does seem to need some cut to perform to his best so is another who would like to see the heavens open.

The French have never won the race but have a live contender this year with the 6yo The Right Man. A winner of nine of his seventeen starts he put up the best performance of his career last time when winning a Meydan Group1 where he had Long on Value, Jungle Cat, Washington DC, Limato and Finsbury Square behind. A repeat performance would certainly put the son of Lope De Vega in Saturday’s picture but he is yet another who seems to enjoy some give underfoot.
Selection : Limato

E.W. : Magical Memory

John Gray