We start todays live Channel 4 action with what seems to be a nailed on certainty as Group 1 winning Jack Hobbs drops down a level to a much lesser race.
The John Gosden trained, Godolphin owned, runner is miles ahead of its rivals here and in all honesty I haven’t seen such a certainty since the days of Frankel.
If Jack Hobbs doesn’t win this one I will be mightily surprised. I understand that the horses odds are far from enticing at best odds of 2/7 and I was hoping there would be eight runners going to post so that an each-way selection could’ve been made but unfortunately only seven line up.
Of the remaining runners I think the biggest danger is likely to be Hughie Morrison’s Arab Dawn but nothing will come close to the favourite and Jack Hobbs should claim an impressive and easy victory.
Jack Hobbs (WIN)
The first of four visits to the Lancashire course is the Group 3 Superior Mile.
This is a race that Ivawood, in theory, should bolt up in, however the horse has been a distant memory of its glories from last year. It’s difficult to think that the Richard Hannon horse was once favourite for the 2,000 Guineas. No doubt if the horse can recapture its winning ways it should clinch victory quite easily but I genuinely feel it may have lost it’s will to win.
With nine runners scheduled to take part I feel Marco Botti’s Moohaarib could be a decent each way bet. A win on good to soft ground shows that it should handle the ground conditions and with only four runs this season it may have room for improvement.
A return back to the all weather for a big runner, one mile handicap. There’s sixteen to wade through but there’s no better place to start than the current favourite.
Spirit Raiser has raced at the course a total of three times and of those three outings the four year old has claimed two victories. The horse has been given a hefty eight pound rise and although it is a worthy favourite and the one to beat here a step up in class and such weight to contend with it makes sense to find a horse with more value.
With so many runners I’m plumping for two outsiders, the first of which is Hugo Palmer’s Strong Steps. You can ignore its last run at York on ground that was far from ideal. The horse is the youngest in the race and as such has plenty of scope for improvement. With races on the turf it has been (bar its last effort) very consistent and should go well at a decent price.
My second selection is racing off the second to lowest weight in the race. Trainer David Barron might not be in red hot form at the moment but two consecutive third placed finishes shows that Lawyer has a decent level of ability. The horse is running off just one pound higher than its last winning mark and has a decent record on the all-weather with two wins out of three races on the artificial surface. The horses draw isn’t ideal but may spring a slight shock.
Strong Steps (E/W)
We are faced with a bit of a marathon for the runners taking on the next at Haydock.
As with the previous race a decent sized field lines up to take on this one mile and six furlongs challenge.
The Old Borough Cup is one of the showpiece’s of Haydock and the field is currently headed by Sir Mark Prescott’s High Secret. An impressive winner last time out at Kilarney but considering the low price and the fact it has never raced in big fields like this before it is avoided today.
Notarised has been racing its heart out all year and very rarely puts in a bad showing. With a win over the course and distance the horse has a decent chance but after a very packed and tough campaign it may find a few too good here.
Trainer Mark Johnston has a great record in this race and along with Notarised also enters Blue Wave. The noticeable booking of Joseph O’Brien takes the ride on the five year old who has had a lighter campaign this season and as such should have a good chance.
Another horse I’m picking is carrying a low weight and hails from a trainer better known for his exploits with national hunt horses. Peter Bowen sends eight year old Awaywiththegreys who has Oisin Murphy in the saddle. The horse has won over this course before and with decent hurdle wins and a solid maiden flat victory recently it is finding its feet. It needs to make a marked step up in class but may have snuck in off a very low weight.
Blue Wave (E/W)
We take a trip to Ascot for yet another big race field. Eighteen horses are scheduled to line up for this seven furlong handicap.
It’s a very competitive race and with 8/1 the field the bookies are finding it hard to figure out but none the less I will endeavour to do so.
Mullionheir was impressive when winning last time out when seen by the Channel 4 camera’s and jockey Kieren Fox was very bullish about just how good the horse was. I couldn’t put people off backing the three year old but as with earlier races I have to find value in such a huge field.
The first of my two selections comes in the form of course and distance winner Gabriel’s Lad. The Denis Coakley trained six year old is yet to make its seasonal debut but I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this. It has a great strike rate with nine top three finishes from eighteen starts including a win in a similar contest on very similar ground and it has a chance from only four pounds higher than its last winning mark.
My second selection is a four year old that represents Qatar Racing Limited. Suzi’s Connoisseur has had a few poor runs but now sits at four pounds lower than its last winning mark and has good form on soft ground. With the aid of jockey Joe Fanning now on top a return to its best form would see this one come close.
Of the rest of the runners Windfast, Field Of Dream and Fiftyshadesofgrey all have outside chances.
Gabriel’s Lad (E/W)
Suzi’s Connoisseur (E/W)
A return to Haydock and as with the majority of todays races big fields are the order of the day.
This five furlong sprint sees former Champion Jockey Paul Hanagan saddle the current favourite Maljaa. The three year old has been in great form and very consistent but the Roger Varian yard has had an underwhelming season and although I feel the favourite will be there or thereabouts at 5/1 it represents no great value.
Another threat to my selection is old timer Silvanus who has a decent chance as the ten year old has racked up two victories in its last three starts. Paul Midgley will have his runner ready to fire but its advancing years sees this race probably too big a task.
The one I’m siding with is course and distance winning five year old Lexington Place who has been ultra consistent all season with eight top three finishes from eleven starts, including five wins. Ruth Carr’s stable are in fine form and this ultra consistent runner may go close.
Lexington Place (E/W)
Finally we return to a reasonable sized field but unfortunately it isn’t any easier to decipher with a three year old handicap.
The classiest horse has to be The Queen’s runner and top weight Dartmouth. A course and distance win also adds to the horses chances and despite being burdened with the biggest weight has a great chance. The horse is currently priced at 5/1 and this seems generous. My concern is not just the horses top weight but wether or not it will handle the softer going. The field doesn’t look awfully classy though and as such I’m going to stick with the current joint favourite.
The horse I fear the most is She Is No Lady who is bound to handle the softer conditions and could do well to place.
Dartmouth (E/W if 9/2+)
The big race of the day and final bit of televised action is the Group 1 Sprint Cup.
There are four course and distance winners in the line up and my selection lies with one of them.
G Force has been a shadow of its former self and wether or not it retains the ability of its three year old days seems very much in doubt. If the David O’Meara horse can recapture its best form it should have a chance but I doubt that it can come back to its glory days in a race of this nature.
Irish raider Gordon Lord Byron represents the main threat from the emerald isle and has been consistent for the most part this season. Some decent placed efforts shows it can hang with decent group level runners but the likelihood is that it won’t get its head in front of some of todays rivals.
This leaves just two course and distance winners left Adaay and Mattmu. The former won nicely in a Group 2 over seven furlongs last time out in soft conditions. The horse will be able to improve on that effort but despite a win over the six furlong trip I fear it isn’t its preferred distance. For a horse that likes to come from off the pace it may find the drop to six too much to overcome as those at the front don’t slow as quickly.
My selection is therefore Mattmu. Tim Easterby has had the three year old in top form with a very impressive third placed finish in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. A step back up to its preferred six furlongs is bound to be a big positive and the softer underfoot conditions won’t cause any concerns either. Adaay may have finished ahead of Mattmu previously but with decent efforts since I think the placings can be reversed.
Podcast – Episode 21