Another highly successful weekend with an 8/1 winner (from 12/1) and a third from the two actual suggestions (see the bottom of the page) as well as another winner hiding elsewhere in my jabberings, and all rounded off with a podcast for those who listen, reminding us all that racing can actually be a bit of fun as well.
With Covid restrictions coming thick and fast over here every single part of the leisure industry remains under intense pressure just to survive and racing is no different. No crowds is a nightmare experience for us all especially the courses whose main revenue stream has ground to a full stop, and although I am no Facebook expert I can’t see that situation changing any time soon which has to be a bad thing for the industry. I will not say the future is bleak, however, I strongly believe racing will survive though some may well have to tighten their belts a little and that has to include racecourses, trainers and bookmakers who continue to achieve massive annual profits while failing to try to help to feed the starving golden goose.
On to the racing this weekend and plenty to talk about with Newmarket the centre of my attention, how I wish I was there, rain or no rain, believe me.
Royal Lodge Stakes 1.50pm Newmarket
Here we go again. Group Two, £56,710 to the winner, one of the best tracks in the world, Good going predicted – and just the five runners – I despair, I really do. With such a small field tactics will invariably play a bigger part then normal and I will even dare to suggest that the best horse may not win.
Although it would be naïve or even stupid to make assumptions over riding instructions, we can say Ontario has made the running before and may well get the opportunity to establish a soft lead here with Ryan Moore in the saddle. He will be looking to make it three in a row for trainer Aidan O’Brien after the successes of Mohawk and then Royal Dornoch, though neither went on to make too many waves as three-year-olds. Cobh heads the early betting if only just after two wins from three starts including last time out at Salisbury when he showed a very good attitude when the chips were down. He is a battler and no mistake, but I am tempted to take a bigger risk with the once raced Pleasant Man, the rank outsider of this field.
I accept that those tactics went badly wrong last week, but Roger Charlton rarely tilts at windmills, yet he happily throws the once raced novice winner straight in to this more exalted company. Well backed at Haydock he won without being give a tough time and connections could yet reap the dividends of that kindness if the son of Galileo improves as expected.
Cheveley Park Stakes 2.25pm Newmarket
Plenty of decent fillies appear on the trophy for this Group One contest with Irish raiders taking the last four renewals, three for Aidan O’Brien and then last year when Millisle scored for Jessica Harrington. Neither stable is represented in 2020 but Ken Condon has a livewire chance for the Emerald Isle with Miss Amulet, one of the most experienced in this field with six starts, three of them winning ones including the Lowther Stakes at York last month. She finished a length ahead of Sacred that day, yet William Haggas is happy to allow his daughter of Exceed And Excel to take her on again, only today she will be wearing first-time cheekpieces.
That is certainly an interesting sub plot and it will be interesting to see which of the two comes out on top, but I still narrowly prefer Dandalla who seemed to idle a little once she hit the front when taking the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on the July course in mid-July. Rested since I am rather hoping Ben Curtis keeps her a little nearer to the early pace today before letting her turn of foot do all the talking, with the forecast rain even more likely to see her winning her fourth race on only her fourth start for trainer Karl Burke.
Middle Park Stakes 3.00pm Newmarket
A decent enough Group One despite the reduced prize money for 2020 (£155,952 for the winner last year, £124,762 this), with all eight runners in with some kind of a chance. Plenty of horses here owe me for past losses including The Lir Jet and Lucky Vega who could make a fool of me by bouncing back to their best, while 14/1 for an Aidan O’Brien trained Ryan Moore ridden runner is sorely tempting each way with Lipizzaner if only because of his connections. Method has certainly impressed on both his winning starts for Martyn Mead and is another who ought to be there or thereabouts at the finish, but I will be on Minzaal and man of the season Jim Crowley. I watched a zoom interview with Jim and Laura Martin of Dubai Racing Channel on Thursday morning and he seemed pretty sweet on the Mehmas colt who quickened up nicely to win the Gimcrack with a bit in hand at York and as he will clearly know an awful lot more than little old me about the horse, who am I to argue.
Beresford Stakes 3.15pm Curragh
When you look at the stats for this race even I was in shock to see that Aiden O’Brien has won the last nine runnings which is totally ludicrous even by his high standards. He has three bullets to fire in 2020 with Sir Lucan (once raced and open to plenty of improvement), Brazil (thrice raced and a winner over C&D last time out), and High Definition who is expected to go off favourite and seems to be the pick of Seamie Heffernan. The only other course and distance winner in the field he came from last to first that day and seems sure to come on for his first start as well making him the one they all have to beat, though Wuqood may well throw down a serious challenge in a race perhaps better watched than punted on in my view.
Tired of reading – go to our free to listen to podcast here instead
Minzaal 3.00pm Newmarket Saturday
High Definition 3.15pm The Curragh Saturday