We open today’s action with a whopping 10 races live on TV. The first of which comes from York at 13:45.
The majority of today’s races seem to be stacked with runners and the first is no exception.
Twenty runners go to post which makes it a minefield to decipher.
My first of what will be two selections is a locally trained course and distance winner. David O’Meara sends top weight Mont Ras who, despite being aged eight, showed it still retains its ability when winning at Meydan last time out.
It remains on its same winning mark from when it last won on UK soil and despite being top weight should go well.
Another course and distance winner that should give a good account of itself is Alfred Hutchinson. The seven year old loves it on the Knavesmire and cannot be underestimated at one of its favourite courses. A step back up to its preferred eight furlongs certainly should help but with added weight from its last win it may find a few too good today.
The current betting favourite is the Godolphin trained Musaddas. A win on it seasonal return at Newmarket was pretty impressive and there is no doubt the horse will improve for that run. However with a large field and Yorks specific track to contend with I could not back the horse at a price of 6/1.
What could be the dark horse of the race is the Richard Hannon three year old Basateen. It has done nothing wrong in its two year old campaign and if it has improved further should be there or thereabouts in this. That being said however a lot is taken on trust and with so many proven horses to contend with I will have to look elsewhere.
My second selection for the race is another David O’Meara trained horse. Despite the fact Fort Bastion has never won at this course it is a very competent, top class handicapper. It finished mid division in a big handicap at Royal Ascot and with top class jockey Sylvester DeSousa on board it has to be given a good each way shout.
Mont Ras (E/W)
Fort Bastion (E/W)
We move over to flat HQ where, despite the smaller field, this looks an even harder race to figure out.
With little to no form to go off with some of these runners my task looks very unenviable job.
There is no better place to start then with the race favourite. In this case it is the David Simcock trained Oracolo. It’s two wins at Doncaster shows the horse clearly has ability but a disappointing fifth place at this venue means I could not be with it today.
It is worth noting that Western Reserve is ridden by Irish jockey Pat Smullen. The jockey does not tend to ride for this yard and clearly it must have a decent chance but I do wonder how good the horses previous form is and at 5/1 it is far too short a price to get stuck into.
With the courses numerous undulations I find it always worth siding with a horse that has good course form. This is why I am siding with a horse that has not only won over course and distance but is undefeated at Newmarket altogether.
Great Park may not be trained by one of the more fashionable trainers but clearly likes it here and with it’s up with the pace tactics suited to the course it should be at least value for place.
Great Park (E/W)
We take in another race from yet another different course as we had over for Ascot’s 14:10.
As with the first race we covered it is another cavalry charge style handicap that awaits.
With thirteen of the eighteen runner field currently priced anywhere between 7/1 and 14/1 it shows just how difficult place looks to work out. More than a quarter of the field have course and distance wins to their name thus adding another harder way to narrow down this marathon field.
Despite the current large odd if B Fifty Two can recapture any of its previous form it has to have a chance, especially with top French jockey Olivier Peslier in the saddle.
Taajub sneaks into the pack off a low weight after a decent second placed finish last time out. This is a step up in class but may sneak into the reckoning.
The favourite Discussiontofollow has a good chance but I couldn’t side with a favourite that hasn’t won in its last four races.
Desert Law has run exceptionally well in its last two runs and with its form at Ascot looking good it is worth following.
Normal Equilibrium has promised a lot but delivered little after it’s great all weather successes. If it can finally turn its form on the artificial surface into decent form on the turf it would have a fantastic chance.
My final selection is trained by Robert Cowell and is a horse who, at the age of five, still has a bit of room for improvement. Secretinthepark tries five furlongs for the first time in it’s career and if that can be the key to unlocking its success then it should go very close.
Desert Law (E/W)
A return back to York for our fourth race and unfortunately due to a non-runner we now only have fifteen runners in this handicap. With one less place to be paid by the bookies I am having to stick to just one selection.
Astronereus is a horse I really like, it has been ultra consistent this season and deserves its place as joint favourite. However, as with some of the other races today, I cannot be with a short priced horse in such a large field.
Unlike the other joint favourite Famous Kid does not seem to be as consistent and for that reason, as well as its short price, that one is avoided as well.
Away from the joint favourites the horse I fear the most is four year old Fractal. Trained by David Simcock this horse had a fantastic, unbeaten three year old season. Its last performance was somewhat disappointing but I feel it can bounce back from disappointment to trouble the protagonists in this.
The one I will plump for however has course winning form and was backed heavily in its last race.
Montefeltro garnered a lot of support in the Northumberland Plate but was mightily disappointing. A chance is taken with the Brian Ellison trained seven year old who may prefer conditions at a venue it has won at previously.
This one is another smaller field that is equally difficult to work out.
I could quite easily make a case for seven of the nine runners here. The two that I can’t have two of the shortest prizes in the field.
The favourite Air Vice Marshall clearly has the weight of the Ballydoyle yard behind it and all of their two-year-olds obviously have to be respected. However with Ryan Moore’s injury sidelining him there is no clear idea as to who will be riding the horse as of yet and that’s too big a question mark to take a risk on.
The two horses I could not be with are War Department and the highly tried Beaverbrook.
Despite there being nine runners I am having to go with two in this simply because I cannot side with either of them.
Birchwood did not have the ground it needed in its last outing and looking through its previous form has beaten some decent horses in its two wins, including Beaverbrook that runs again today.
My other selection goes to the Richard Hannon runner Tony Curtis. The yard are hitting stride and had a winner at Newmarket yesterday. I’m not sure how good the horses one run is form wise but as it represents a top yard a chance is taken.
Tony Curtis (E/W)
This eight runner race looks set to be dominated by the two Qatar Racing Limited horses in the shape of Arod and Lightning Spear.
The unbeaten four year old Lightning Spear takes a big step up in competition however there is nothing to suggest that the horse cannot compete at this class. However I find the price of around 4/1 very short and based on its previous success not generous in the slightest. Arod is a worthy favourite and if truth be told is the one I think will take all the beating here. This is why I have opted to make this my selection despite the short price.
Of the remaining runners I think that Marco Botti’s entry Moohaarib should also finish highly and has a chance of a place.
We are back to York for another five furlong sprint however this race, unlike the last from this venue, contains much classier animals competing.
If you had listened to our podcast this week you would know there is only one horse I am favouring here. If it wasn’t for a huge mishap before the line in its penultimate start this horse would already be a group two winner. Cotai Glory was one of my favourite horses last season and despite falling short in a race in France this level of opposition should be within its grasp. It is currently priced at 9/1 which I feel, based on its best form, is pretty generous.
I do not readily dismiss the other thirteen rivals but I just feel that the Charlie Hills runner is classier than the remainder of the field and this class should tell to finish in the top three at least.
Cotai Glory (E/W)
We return to Newmarket for the penultimate race their from their televised races.
The favourite in this is trained by Luca Cumani. Ayaar was a decent horse when winning its seasonal debut however a subsequent ninth placed finish was far less convincing and this lacklustre run does not equate to the horse being so short in the betting.
As with the previous race from York if you had listened to our podcast fellow pundit Chris Connolly tips a horse in this race and I have to agree with his view. Bronze Angel was outstanding last year and a performance around that level should see the horse take a hand in this. Yes it is true this seasons runs have not been so good but is consider this race an easier target and one that is well within its grasps.
Of the remaining runners I feel Heavens Guest could spring a surprise with a return to a course where it has had previous success but I hope it finds a few too good today.
My second and final selection is given the lowest weight thanks to the five pounds that Tom Marquand takes off of Related’s back. David Simcock’s yard are doing well and a fourth placed finish in The Wokingham at Royal Ascot is one of the five year olds career best performances and may have snook under the radar in today’s contest.
Bronze Angel (E/W)
The final race from Yorkshire is, in my opinion, the toughest race of the day with five horses currently ranging from 8/1 to 10/1 and as such all vying for favouritism.
I have therefore decided to scour the bigger priced runners in the hunt for a bit of value.
It is true that the first four places could all be filled by the leading market protagonists but I’m hoping current 20/1 shot Homage could spring an upset. With just two runs to its name this season the William Haggas runner should be fresher than some of its rivals and with decent performances to its name at this course before it could run well at a much more favourable price.
The final race of what has been a long day of Channel 4 action sees us take in the big race of Newmarkets meeting the group one July Cup.
My original antepost selection for this race earlier in the week was Mattmu, however as it is now a non-runner I have to look elsewhere.
The Australian raider Brazen Beau was somewhat unfortunate not to win at Royal Ascot with many blaming the jockey that day. That same jockey does not take the ride for the Newmarket showpiece and instead is replaced by James Doyle. I would consider that a positive for the horse but with the undulations it will have to contend with I feel that it’s chances of winning are actually slimmer than its Royal Ascot attempt.
Muhaarar was impressive when winning at Royal Ascot but some feel it was the draw that aided the three year olds chances that day and although it is a worthy favourite it’s price doesn’t represent any value.
The biggest danger to my selections I fear is course and distance winner Tropics. The seven year old maybe getting on in age but with only a couple of runs under its belt this year it may still be pretty fresh and as such poses a serious threat.
A few years ago it would be inconceivable to think that Eddie Lynam sends two runners into this race and Sole Power would be the lesser fancied of the yards runners however that is the situation we find ourselves in today and Anthem Alexander is seen as the stables biggest hope. Top jockey Pat Smullen comes to the UK with the main aim of taking this ride and that sort of confidence is hard to ignore. A decent third placed finish at Ascot behind today’s race favourite is good form and at 11/1 is worth an each way bet to try and over turn its previous result.
My second selection definitely comes somewhat out of left field and at a price of 40/1 you can certainly say it isn’t fancied by many. Lancelot Du Lac is a horse I have watched out for all season and a decent third placed finish in its last race shows it retains its ability. I completely concede that it would have to produce a career best performance and then some for it to take a hand in this but I think this is probably one of the poorest July Cups we have seen in a long while. With a course and distance win to its name previously it has something over a lot of its rivals and if all the cards fall into place it could sneak a place at a huge price.
Anthem Alexander (E/W)
Lancelot Du Lac (E/W)
Listen to our latest podcast right now:
We discuss the great Kauto Star. Just how good was he?
We also give our eye-catchers to follow and preview todays July Cup.