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

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

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

Snow Sky

Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky ran a fine race in the Yorkshire Cup (Gp2 1m6f) beating the tenacious Brown Panther by 1/2L, but then eclipsed that performance when returned to a more suitable trip in the Hardwicke Stakes over 1m4f at Royal Ascot.

If reproducing his impressive performances in the Derby and Eclipse Stakes, Golden Horn now rated 130, would look a good thing for Saturday’s contest, but as ever in life there are certain caveats. Firstly, only two three year olds have collected in the last decade, but they were both in the hugely talented hands of Golden Horn’s trainer John Gosden, the filly Taghrooda last year, and Nathaniel in 2010. Secondly, four of the last five Derby winners who contested the Ascot race have been beaten, and none since Galileo in 2001 has been successful. However it hasn’t been a race targeted by Derby winners in recent years, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Kris Kin in 2003 the last to try, (he finished 3rd to another 3yo, Alamshar).

Recent statistics certainly give plenty of encouragement to the older generations, and the one with the best C.V. For the task would seem to be the Andre Fabre trained 5yo horse, Flintshire. He ran a great race in last years “Arc” when second to the superb mare Treve, and again ran well when finishing 1 1/4L behind her at Saint-Cloud four weeks ago. Flintshire has won twice at the top level, both times over 1m4f, and his excellent trainer has won the race before (Hurricane Run 2006), so if the favourite doesn’t bring his A game on Saturday the trophy could be going across the channel.

The Italian trained Dylan Mouth also boasts winning form at the top level, having won two Group ones, both at 1m4f, at St Siro. It is tempting to dismiss Italian form as not being up to the standard of British, Irish, French, and more recently German. However this 4yo Dylan Thomas colt was most impressive in a group one last time, winning by 5L, so it is not impossible that he might emulate his sire who won this great race eight years ago. Definitely worthy of his place in Saturday’s line up.

Sir Michael Stoute has trained five previous winners, most recently with Harbinger in 2010, and a success at the weekend would give him the all time record, so his two runners deserve the utmost respect. While it is dangerous to totally dismiss the 5yo Telescope, whose form this year has been disappointing, his best chance seems to lie with the progressive looking 4yo Snow Sky.

He ran a fine race in the Yorkshire Cup (Gp2 1m6f) beating the tenacious Brown Panther by 1/2L, but then eclipsed that performance when returned to a more suitable trip in the Hardwicke Stakes over 1m4f at Royal Ascot. Making all he beat Eagle Top and Postponed by 3 3/4L and a nose in a controversial race. Some may consider him a fortuitous winner but this observer wouldn’t agree. Considering Sir Michael’s supreme talent with the mature thoroughbred, further progress can be anticipated and it will be no surprise to see him involved on Saturday.

Another, who one feels has his best days in front of him, is the Luca Cumani trained Postponed. He has never won at the top level, but went very close at the Curragh in May. Racing over an inadequate 1m2f, he was only beaten a nk and a shd by Al Kazeem and Fascinating Rock. He was then involved in that barging match with Eagle Top in the Hardwicke Stakes where his pilot, Adam Kirby did him absolutely no favours. By the all conquering Stallion Dubawi, a much improved performance is in prospect.

Selection: Snow Sky

E.W. : Postponed

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