Well we had a few winners last week I am pleased to say including Glass Slippers at 9/2 and my personal favourite Tiger Moth (lousy price though), and this week I will be working even harder to see if we can produce more of the same.
Before we get down to the good news a sad farewell to the legend that was and remains Pat Smullen. Top class both in and out of the saddle and tireless to the end with his charity work, his sort do not come around often enough I am afraid to say, and if the rest of us could gather up just 10% of his humanity and thoughts for others the World we all live in would be a far happier place.
Dubai International 1.40pm Newbury
Good ground “tick”, Group class “tick”, black type “tick”, fair course “tick” – so why are there only the seven runners declared at the 48 hour stage? Recent winners have covered the pricing spectrum from as short as 5/4 (Deacon Blues in 2011) to 12/1 (Maid In India last season), but we have seen six favourites in the last decade so that seems a good place to start with Equilateral heading the early market at a sorely tempting 5/2.
Now a five-year-old the Charlie Hills trained Equiano gelding has not really reached the heights connections hoped this season with a sole victory at Meydan back in January, but he has not run badly in far better company and can boast a second to the mighty Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and a two and three-quarter length sixth to Glass Slippers at The Curragh last weekend. Dropped in class this afternoon he cannot afford the tardy start he made in Ireland, but he ought to outclass these on a going day and is close to impossible to oppose. Tis Marvellous was well supported when winning at Leicester but he has been competing in lesser company in recent years and needs to recapture his youth at the age of six but could be the one to chase the jolly home, though I cannot pretend the field is of the quality you would hope for on a Saturday afternoon outside of handicap company.
Doonside Cup 1.55pm Ayr
Compared to some of their Group races today we have an exciting looking field for this Listed contest – though a maximum of seven runners means we only get paid first and second if we punt each-way. One glance at the stables involved tells you this is seen as a decent race to win, though it is hard to see why Addeybb isn’t odds on in the circumstances. Trained by the excellent William Haggas in Newmarket, the six-year-old has now won nine of his eighteen career starts and over £1.5 million in win and place prize money. Two of those successes this season before a second to the rapidly improving Lord North at Royal Ascot where he still had the likes of Barney Roy and Japan in behind. Rested since we have to assume he is still sharp ahead of his return and he does have to give weight away all round, yet he still looks too classy for Fox Chairman who has disappointed all season, and seems the sort to continually find one or two to finish behind so far all season.
Legacy Cup Stakes 2.50pm Newbury
What can I say about a four horse race that hasn’t already been said – disgraceful from the owners who seem insistent that they want to alienate any public support they may have hoped for with a lack of race entries despite the easy pickings. Tactics will be the biggest question mark with such a small field, and I will not be betting big if at all for that very reason.
Running though the field and Elarqam would win this pulling a cart if he could repeat his short head second to the decent Lord North on his seasonal return but he has not looked the same horse in two runs since and has a bit to prove after and eight and a half-length sixth at York last time out. He made the running that day and may well be there to be shot at again this weekend and it may well be rank outsider Gifts Of Gold who delivers at the business end. Upped in class today after running away with a class two handicap at Chelmsford, he can front run or track the leader which may give him the tactical advantage and although no banker, Saeed Bin Suroor would not be sending him here if he didn’t have a squeak.
Extra Elusive is looking for his hat-trick after wins at Haydock and Windsor and is not discounted, I just wonder if the early pace may be that bit quicker here blunting his finishing kick, leaving the admirable Desert Encounter, the winner of twelve races and over a million pounds, but surely not the force of old at the age of eight and potentially a little more sluggish in a finish over this trip these days.
Firth Of Clyde Stakes 3.05pm Ayr
Our one and only big field event of the day with up to fifteen runners, a known draw bias (high is statistically the place to be), and the likelihood of plenty of hard luck stories as these inexperienced two-year-olds roll off a true line and risk causing interference. Amusingly, after writing the above paragraph I note the very short priced favourite (15/8 Umm Kulthum, 10/1 bar) is drawn in the 4 stall and although this could be a disastrous error, I simply have to go looking for an each way alternative. The jolly did win on debut at Thirsk before a solid third at York in the Lowther Stakes, but is that really so far clear of her rivals that she deserves to be that price?
There are some interesting aspects to note here with Oisin Murphy booked to ride 50/1 chance Quiet Assassin standing out as “unusual” for the very shrewd and capable Adrian Paul Keatley yard and it would not be a huge surprise if she outran her price, while the Hannon yard are doing well again making Concessions another to at least consider.
All in all, I do not see this as a race I will be betting in but if I was given a charity bet then the 20/1 about Setantii Girl from the twelve stall looks tempting each way. A debut winner for James Given when an unfancied 22/1 shot at Ripon suggests she will come on considerably for the run, while the race time was highly respectable considering the softer conditions. As a daughter of Sir Prancelot who seems very well bought at 15,000 Guineas she ought to handle or even improve for the better going, yet she seems to have been overlooked in the betting at that price and could surprise a few with any luck.
Mill Reef Stakes 3.25pm Newbury
Whisper it but we could have an eight horse field here meaning a chance of a place one two three – who would have thought that was the remotest possibility, though I won’t fall over in shock if we have a last minute withdrawal as if often the case.
Lightly raced two-year-old's are invariably a minefield and with six of the eight having just their third start some will offer more improvement – and others won’t. Historically we have not seen a winner priced in double figures in the last ten years and if that trend continues, we only have the four possible winners – if only that made life any easier.
Fivethousandtoone heads the overnight market and did look the part when winning last time out but he has to reverse debut form with the equally eye-catching Bahrain Pride and I am not as convinced that is a guarantee as the market suggests. Devilwala is the highest rated in the field according to the handicappers after his two length second to Minzaal in the Gimcrack and is another for the short list but I will go out on a limb here and weigh in with Alkumait each way at the 16/1 at the time of writing. Anyone who knows Marcus Tregoning will be fully aware his juveniles usually improve considerably for the run and the son of Showcasing did exactly that. A length fourth when running on alter over course and distance in mid-July was followed by an easy win at Goodwood in a decent looking maiden, and with the runner up scoring last time out easily and the fifth winning twice, the form has a decent enough look about it. No guarantees today as you can imagine but he does look massively overpriced and if all eight stand their ground, third place could be his for the taking – at the very least.
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Equilateral 1.40pm Newbury Saturday
Alkumait each-way 3.25pm Newbury