We are getting deeper into the second half of the flat racing season which means good Saturday cards are coming thick and fast and we have a couple of them this weekend at Haydock and Ascot where the Sprint Cup is the highlight on a very appealing day of racing. We have a selection in the big race as well as in three others on both cards.
4.10 Haydock: Sprint Cup
The big race of the day is the Group 1 Sprint Cup over 6 furlongs. However, the race has cut up with Ten Sovereigns and Advertise both being taken out in the last 24 hours which makes it an open looking 11 runner race.
The winner of the Stewards Cup, Khaadem, is the favourite but 3/1 looks short on the basis he was only 7th of 9 in the Commonwealth Cup behind 2 of today’s rivals. He’s also finished behind the German raider Waldpfad earlier this term. If he repeats his Stewards Cup win, he’ll go close but on previous form, there’s better value elsewhere.
Dream Of Dreams was 2nd in the Diamond Jubilee but ran poorly last time out in the July Cup, and there is a question mark over soft ground.
The Commonwealth Cup 2nd Forever In Dreams looks a big each way price but our selection is the horse she beat into 3rd that day, Hello Zoumain. This progressive 3 year old looks ready to land a Group 1 on just his 7th career start. He’s already landed a pair of Group 2’s including the Sandy Lane over course and distance when easily brushing aside Calyx. Last time out, in that Ascot race, he missed the break but was definitely the one to take from the race finishing under 2 lengths back in 3rd (he’d have gone very close with a level break). He loves soft ground, his yard could not be in better form and with improvement likely, he looks a super each way bet.
WON – Back Hello Youmzain (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 8.00 Ladbrokes BOG (⅕ odds 1-3)
3.35 Haydock: Old Borough Cup Handicap
This is a valuable Class 2 staying handicap over 1 mile 6 furlongs with last year’s winner Reshoun bidding to see off 15 rivals in his bid for a repeat victory. However, his form this term has been average at best.
Corelli has been in good form but is up in trip, up in mark and has a big weight to shoulder whilst Alright Sunshine has won it’s last 2 but this is by far his toughest assignment to date.
At a massive price, Charles Kingsley could go very well for Mark Johnston who has a good record in this race and, somewhat surprisingly, relies on this one as his only runner in the race. The selection likes to race up with the pace and could easily dictate affairs with there being a distinct lack of pace pushers in the field. He loves soft ground with his record when the word ‘soft’ is in the going description being 2 wins and a 2nd from 3 runs, which is mightily impressive. Since being stepped up to this trip, he won at Newmarket off 2lb lower betore running a good 5th at Glorious Goodwood off 1lb lower than he races off today. His run last time out can be ignored as 2 miles appeared to be a step too far and, back on a more suitable trip on his favoured ground, he could well upset the odds.
PLACED – Back Charles Kingsley (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 21.00 BetVictor BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
2.45 Ascot: Cunard Handicap
A typically competitive straight track handicap at Ascot with 16 runners going to post for this 7 furlong Class 2 handicap.
Ripp Orff is a worthy favourite as he loves the track and a big field handicap but he’s hard to win with and has gone up 2lb having lost last time out. He’s sure to be in the shake up but will probably find one or two too good.
Fanaar is amongst the market leaders off the back of his 3rd in the Britannia at 50/1 but a 5lb higher mark will surely stop him from winning this whilst Tabarrak is classy but has loads of weight.
Preference is for Escobar who just so happens to be his Northern trainer’s only runner at the meeting. Admittedly he rarely runs over 7 furlongs but does have form over the trip and this big field will suit. His form has been pretty good lately finishing 2nd in the Coral Challenge, winning a Class 2 handicap at York and then an unlucky 3rd in the Golden Mile at Goodwood. He was only 5th of 6 last time out but that was over a longer trip and was in a Group race. Interestingly his last 4 RPRs have all been higher than his current official rating so he’s almost guaranteed to run his race again. He’s a big price with 5 places being offered each way.
PLACED – Back Escobar (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Betfair Sportsbook BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
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4.30 Ascot: Fever-Tree Handicap
Another competitive straight track handicap, this time over 6 furlong where there are 15 runners.
A pair of 3 year olds head the market with Ed Walker’s Swindler the one currently at the head of affairs. He won a course and distance handicap off 8lb lower but was disappointing when favourite off this mark next time out. Alkaraama, from the Sir Michael Stoute yard, has won 3 of his last 4 but they were all on the all weather and this is a step up in class.
Open Wide, 2nd to Khaadem in the Stewards Cup, is the first selection. He’s had a very good summer; after winning a Class 3 handicap off 5lb lower, he’s since been 2nd 3 times including that excellent run at Goodwood. Interestingly all 3 runs were in big fields of 16+ runners. Last time out, he was 4th of 7 but only half a length back in a race that didn’t suit his running style. These conditions suit better and the jockey takes 5lbs off his back which, in theory, puts him back on his last winning mark.
The 2nd bet is Gunmetal. Followers of this column will know we’ve followed him off a cliff this term but I’m convinced he’ll land a decent handicap soon enough. He’s not been at his best the last twice but there’s been excuses (track and trip) but he looks well treated against his 6th place finish in the Wokingham off 4lb higher where he won the race on his side of the track. Back over course and distance, with the assistance of the in-form William Buick in the saddle, this could be the day we collect on our most backed horse of the year!
PLACED – Back Open Wide (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 7.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
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VOID – Back Gunmetal (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 11.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
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