Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe 1mile 4furlongs Longchamp

waldgeist arc

Waldgeist represents cracking value at his current odds of 12-1

The big question facing racing fans on Sunday is whether Khalid Abdullah’s fabulous mare can enable, (forgive the pun) his owner to become the winning most in the 99 years of Europe’s premier contest. With 6 victories he currently shares that distinction with the legendary Marcel Boussac, and on all known form it is rather difficult to envisage Enable failing to deliver the goods on Sunday. If she does, she will be carving her own niche in the history books, as the first to win the great race 3 times, and will be giving Jockey, Frankie Dettori a seventh success, and trainer, Gosden a fourth. Having won the last 2 renewals, and achieving the fantastic record of winning all 10 of her races at the top level, it can be argued that her current odds of 8/11 still represent some value, but I’m not so sure. Last year’s win at Longchamp was her only appearance at The Paris track, (the 2017 renewal was run at Chantilly) and despite having the best of the draw in stall 6 she only got home by a short neck from Sea Of Class, drawn out in 15. Her first 2 wins this year were hard fought, particularly that epic struggle against Crystal Ocean in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and while her win in The Yorkshire Oaks 46 days ago was more comfortable, it’s worth remembering that plenty of “good things” have met their Waterloo on the Paris track.

obrien investec

The Master of Ballydoyle will be hopeful of Japan’s chances and so are we

It has been a good race for improving 3yo’s, (have won 6 of the last 10 renewals) and the Aidan O’Brien trained Japan, certainly falls into that category. Ignored in the market for the Derby, he started a 20/1 shot, but belying his odds finished best of all and despite pilot, Wayne Lordan, dropping his “persuader” was only beaten 1/2L in 3rd. It has been a case of upwards and onwards since, and he is unbeaten in his last 3 races.  I felt he was particularly impressive last time over an inadequate 10 1/2f in York’s
Juddmonte International, where, headed inside the last 50 yards by the hot favourite,
Crystal Ocean, (rated 127) he battled back heroically to get up on the line. By the great Galileo out of the Danehill mare Shastye, (won over 13f) he has won over Sunday’s course and distance, (Group1 Grand Prix De Paris in July) is improving at a rate of knots and looks great value at his current odds of 6/1.

Another 3yo taking serious steps forward is the Pau based handler, J-C Rouget’s Sottsass. By the very successful sire, Siyouni, (stud fee €100,000) he kept on strongly to win the 10f Group1 Prix Du Jockey Club, (French Derby) at the beginning of June and stepped up to 12f, readily won the good Arc trial, The Prix Neil, over course and distance 3 weeks ago. In a heat run in a time 3 seconds faster than standard, he overcame difficulties in running to win comfortably. He is out of the Galileo mare, Starlets Sister, which makes him a half brother to the top American mare, Sistercharlie, who has won 6 Grade1 events, and it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if the winners share of Sunday’s €5,000,000 pot were to end up down in the lovely Pyrenean town of Pau.

Godolphin have won the race twice, and trainer, Charlie Appleby will be hoping to make it three with the lightly raced 4yo, Ghaiyyath. A winner of 5 of his seven starts, he struck at the top level for the first time when landing Germany’s Group1 Grosser Preis Von Baden in Spectacular fashion 36 days ago. Tackling 12f for the first time, he took it up 3f out, went clear, and won by an impressive 14L. With a 19/1 shot finishing second the form is difficult to weigh up but the Group1 winning favourite, Laccario, was a further 4 1/2L back in 3rd. Beautifully bred, he is by the exceptional, Dubawi, out of the 2006 winner of The Irish 1000gns, Nightime, which makes him a half brother to the top class mare, Zhukova, and I’m sure there is plenty more to come from the Godolphin colt.

With 7 wins, French genius, Andre Fabre, is by some distance the most successful handler in the race, and his 5yo, Waldgeist, who finished 4th last year, is no forlorn hope. A real Longchamp specialist, he has won 4 of his 6 starts at the track, and perhaps even more significantly, the only time he was beaten in his 4 heats when racing over 12f at the course, was when finishing 4th in last year’s Arc. Badly drawn in 13, he was held up at the back of midfield where he met plenty of trouble and couldn’t get a clear run. When he did get out, the bird had flown, but the son of Galileo is a real pro, and he stayed on strongly to finish 4th, 1 3/4L behind Enable. He looked in great form when winning the Prix Foy over course and distance 3 weeks ago under a hands and heels ride, and current odds of 16/1 look generous.

Selection.      : Japan

EW.                 : Waldgeist

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

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group1) 1m4f Saturday

ascot king george saturday.jpgThis middle distance, mid summer highlight of the racing calendar, was first run in 1951,  as a Top level contest open to all ages. Historically the classic generation, with 30 victories have had the better of the argument, (including last year with the John Gosden trained Enable) but with only the five wins since the dawn of the new millennium their star has become slightly tarnished. Training honours, with an impressive five victories apiece, are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor, and veteran Newmarket Maestro, Sir Michael Stoute, and the latter, with the two market leaders, Poets Word and Crystal Ocean, in his care at the Freemason Lodge Academy, must fancy his chances of landing a sixth success.

Poet’s Word has won six of his fifteen starts, accumulating an impressive, near £2,000,000 in win and place prize money but has only managed to bag a single top level success. However that was achieved in his last race, the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot where he put the 2/5 fav, Cracksman firmly in his place. A slight concern is his lack of success at the top level over Saturday’s trip, but his canny trainer is in no doubt that he will be equally effective over a mile and a half, and a quick glance at the 5yo’s pedigree would suggest that he might even improve for it. By Poets Voice, out of the Nashwan mare, Whirlybird, who was a winner herself at 11f, and is the dam of two animals who were best at two miles. Poets Word is a late maturing animal, the type The Master Of Freemason Lodge excels with, and a repetition of his Ascot effort will make him hard to beat.

His stable companion, Crystal Ocean has yet to score a top level success, but the 4yo put up a tremendous effort in his sole attempt at a Group1, when going down by a battling 1/2L to Capri in last year’s St Leger. crystal oceanThe son of Sea The Stars (pictured) may have been found out by the trip at Doncaster, but back at Saturday’s distance, over which he’s won on three occasions, including last time out, when taking the Group2 Hardwicke Stakes at The Royal Meeting (over Saturday’s course and distance Good/Firm) is bound to prove a very live contender. Beautifully bred, he is a half brother to the Group2 winning mare, Crystal Capella, and the Group1 winning stallion, Hillstar. All in all he has plenty to recommend him at the weekend.

With five entries at the time of writing, Aidan O’Brien is mob handed but if the markets have got it right, his best chance of landing a 5th win in the race lies with his improving, 3yo, Kew Gardens. Always well thought of at Ballydoyle, he finished of his 2yo career in some style, beating the subsequent Derby runner up, Dee Ex Bee by 3 1/2L in The Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October over 1m2f. Disappointing in his first four races this term, he came good at the fifth time of asking, winning the 14f Group2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot by 4 3/4L and a neck from his stable companions Southern France and Nelson. The drop back to 12f proved no obstacle next time, when he won the Group1 Grand Prix De Paris by 1 1/4L from Neufbosc, with Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in 3rd. The son of Galileo is improving at a rate of knots and it wouldn’t take a lot more to see him in the winners enclosure on Saturday.

Despite winning the Group1, Prix Ganay on his reappearance with his head in his chest, the John Gosden trained Cracksman has looked less than enthusiastic in his last two races. While it is dangerous to dismiss such a talented animal, the Gosden yards best chance of landing a 4th King George may lie with the 4yo filly Coronet. A daughter of Dubawi, she performed with plenty of credit as a 3yo, but her two runs this campaign would suggest that she is an improved filly. She won the Group2 Middleton Stakes at York on her reappearance over 10f, and four weeks later only lost out by a nose in a bobbing finish to the Andre Fabre trained Waldgeist in the 12f Group1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud on Good/soft ground. Fabre has withdrawn his talented colt from Saturday’s contest because of the likelihood of a fast surface, but the Gosden filly will relish a return to such ground.

Selection : Kew Gardens
E.W.          : Coronet

John Gray

Rose of Lancaster Stakes Gp3 1m 2 1/2 f Haydock Saturday

Roger Varian

Roger Varian’s progressive looking Dynaformer colt Intilaaq could well Saturday’s big race at Haydock.

I hope you were on last week’s selection, Magical Memory, the very tidy winner of The Stewards Cup. Returned at 6/1, he was available at the time of writing at a very tasty 14/1, so let’s hope we can keep the ball rolling this week in Saturday’s Rose of Lancaster Stakes.

Three year olds have won fifteen of the twenty eight renewals of this 1m 2 1/2 f contest since its inception in 1986, and Roger Varian’s progressive looking Dynaformer colt Intilaaq could well improve on their record. Having won his maiden at Newbury in April, he disappointed in the 2000gns, finishing fifteenth behind Gleneagles, but came good last time on his first attempt at the distance when winning a listed race at Newbury in very taking fashion. Now stepped up to pattern company for the first time this very well bred colt, (his dam won the French 1000gns) is of definite interest at the weekend. The only caveat would be the weather as his trainer feels that he would be unsuited by anything worse than good, so a waiting brief is advised.

The John Gosden trained Mahsoob is in the same ownership as Intilaaq, and based on his win in the 1m2f Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot off a mark of 106 is of interest. He disappointed last time in the 1m4f Gp2 Prince of Wales stakes at Newmarket when sent off favourite. He clearly didn’t get the trip and finished 6th, 6L behind the subsequent Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange. Returned to his optimum trip, (has won three times over 1m2f) at the weekend he is well worth considering.

Mostly campaigned at shorter, the Rod Millman trained 4yo Master Craftsman, conclusively proved his stamina credentials, when winning the hugely valuable, and highly competitive, John Smith handicap at York. Run over 1m 2 1/2 f he held on bravely to win by a neck, off a mark of 104. The ground at York was good, but he does like to get his toe in, (he won a Gp3 on gd/sft at Chantilly last year) so may well have his ideal conditions on Saturday. Having had a nice break since his York win, he does seem to have a lot in his favour at the weekend and is shortlisted.

In typical Mark Johnston fashion, the tough Fire Fighting’s nose has been kept close to the grindstone for the last two months, but he showed no signs of staleness when running another fine race at Goodwood last week. He was beaten less than 1 1/2L when running on resolutely behind the talented Mount Logan, to whom he was conceding 8lbs (1m2f gd/sft), and although seemingly held on some collateral lines of form, it would be no surprise to see him involved at the business end on Saturday.

Saeed Bin Suroor’s 6yo Clon Brulee ran well in a group3 over an inadequate 1m1f on soft ground at Newmarket last October, where he finished a running on 4th of 13 beaten 3L. He does like an easy surface, and back over a more suitable trip he could get involved.

Sir Michael Stoute, who has won the race three times, is represented by the relatively lightly raced 4yo Munaaser. He had been mostly campaigned at around a mile, but in his last race at Goodwood, one week ago, he looked as if he would be well suited by further. Held up towards the rear in a Cl2 handicap over a mile, he ran on strongly to get within 4 1/2 L of the winner. By the Derby winner New Approach, out of a mare who stayed a mile there is plenty of encouragement in his pedigree to suggest that Saturday’s trip should suit, so coming from this stable is worth keeping an eye on.

Selection : Intilaaq. (if absent : Master Craftsman)

E.W. : Clon Brulee.

Kempton Racing Tips Magnolia Stakes 2.15

While most of the media’s attention is focussed on Saturday's Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, Kempton's poly track, features three highly competitive and interesting contests.

Magnolia stakes at 2.15, (1m2f), sees the return to action of John Gosden’s St Leger runner up, Romsdal. Second time out last year He hacked up by 5L over the course (1m3f), prior to finishing a terrific third in the Derby behind Australia and Kingston Hill.

While most of the media’s attention is focussed on Saturday’s Lincoln meeting at Doncaster, Kempton’s poly track, features three highly competitive and interesting contests.

The Magnolia stakes at 2.15, (1m2f), sees the return to action of John Gosden’s St Leger runner up, Romsdal. Second time out last year He hacked up by 5L over the course (1m3f), prior to finishing a terrific third in the Derby behind Australia and Kingston Hill. He disappointed in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but redeemed his reputation with a brave second to Kingston Hill in the St Leger (1m6 1/2f). Obviously the distance of Saturday’s contest is a concern, but the way Romsdal travels, and his style of racing, would suggest that it may not inconvenience him that much, particularly when noting that his uber shrewd trainer carried off a similar trick, when winning this in 2012, with his St Leger winner Arctic Cosmos, who had collected the Doncaster prize two years earlier. Definitley one for the short list!

Marco Botti’s Solar Deity, if reproducing his run in a very valuable Lingfield handicap, behind Grandeur,(1m2f) last April, would be interesting. There despite being short of room two furlongs out he finished a highly commendable fourth, with one of Saturday’s opponents, Aussie Reigns, behind. He certainly demonstrated his wellbeing three weeks ago at Wolverhampton (1m1/2f) in a class 2 handicap. He ran on really well, to finish third suggesting that the step back up to 1m2f is what is required. With his trainer having such a good A.W. Season, he is worth considering.

The Ed Dunlop trained Red Galileo, having won over the course as a 2yo and finished fifth in the Derby has a lot to recommend him. He has failed to catch the judges eye since the Derby, but has put in some very sound performances, not least a shd defeat by Nabucco, and being beaten a nk by the two years older Clon Brulee. As Dunlop won this with a seasonal debutante last year, Contributer, Red Galileo is worth a second look.

Selection: Romsdal.