We kick off todays marathon day of live racing with a two year old contest from flat HQ.
Over twenty horses are scheduled to line up for this veritable cavalry charge to start proceedings.
The current favourite is the Richard Hannon trained Twin Sails and based on the form on offer is worthy of its spot at the head of the market. The horse looks like the most likely winner but at a price around 5/2 with so many runners it seems ludicrous not looking for value and I’m hoping I have found it in the form of Richard Fahey’s Bahamian Bird. It’s interesting to see that former champion jockey Paul Hanagan takes the ride for a yard that have won this race before. Despite the horse not shaking its maiden tag it could go well at a decent price.
Bahamian Bird (E/W)
Moving over to the first of four races from Ascot to take in a listed sprint contest.
Wind Fire represents top connections and has a 66% strike rate in listed events. A few decent attempts at group level means a drop in class is a definite positive. Sure to be there or thereabouts but as with the previous race I’m hoping that I’ve found value with an alternative runner.
Brian Meehan’s Rathaath has won three of its seven starts including a win over course and distance. There’s no doubt the horse needs to step up on its previous form but if the ground becomes firmer and with the scope this three year old has it could sneak a place if not better.
A return to flat HQ for another two year old contest that sees the Coolmore runner Alice Springs sit as the clear odds on favourite. Some notable performances in group company makes this horse the standout performer however at the age of two it is hard to decipher just how good the form is and its unwillingness to get its head in front may be a telling factor.
Trainer John Gosden has a couple entered and I’m going with one of them, The horse may still be a maiden after two career starts but Pursuitofthestars is bred impeccably. The yard have done well this year, including with their two year olds and the horse may look overpriced when it comes to post time.
The first of two Group 3 races shown on Channel 4 today and if truth be told it seems a pretty weak affair. Romsdal has some top class form but should’ve bolted up last time out but was awfully disappointing. If the horse bounces back to its best it will take all the beating but the Godolphin runner has been mightily disappointing and is overlooked today.
Of the remaining runners former St Leger contender Windshear takes up an entry, a horse I always felt would relish the two mile trip and another who has been vastly inconsistent. A drop back to a mile and a half might not be beneficial and is another horse I’m going against today.
My selection goes to a horse who hails from a yard that is bang in form. James Fanshawe’s had a hat full of winners over the past fortnight and may have another with Star Storm. It may have only contested handicaps but the very convincing performances it has been putting in would lead me to believe a step up to this company wouldn’t be too big a leap and may go close.
Star Storm (E/W if 9/2+)
As with the previous race we covered from Newmarket another Aiden O’Brien horse sits at the forefront of the betting but unlike the previous race I’m actually siding with the favourite.
Obviously various horses, representing various big named trainers will have a say in the outcome with notable dangers looking to be John Gosden’s East Indies, who may not appreciate the step down in trip and Bedrock who represents William Haggas.
This being said however I just cant look past the group winning favourite Waterloo Bridge.
Waterloo Bridge (WIN)
The second Group 3 race sees us decipher a sprint contest.
It looks mightily open with the likes of Cable Bay and Eastern Impact set to enter the stalls.
David Lanigan looks to saddle both the first and second favourite but the stable doesn’t have the best of records over in the UK and I think both Ninjago and Justice Good could be markedly underestimated.
Ninjago ran a fantastic race to finish third in the Ayr Gold Cup. A course and distance win to its name also aids this horses chances and the lack of top level opposition in this means it wouldn’t have to take a giant stride to compete at this level.
A small mention to Justice Good who ran well after a lengthy absence and with only a couple of runs this season it may be fitter than its rivals.
Justice Good (E/W)
The big Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes sees some what of a French invasion as three of the top four in the betting hail from across the English Channel.
The favourite, Esoterique is an ultra consistent horse who has competed at the top level. The only negative is that its most recent victory came on very soft ground and with the expected good to firm surface likely it will be far from advantageous. The same can be said for its fellow French counterparts Bawina and Maimara.
Irish Rookie has great form with a second placed finish in a French classic earlier in the year but once again it looks like a horse that does much better on a softer surface.
The one I’m plumping for has a course success and prefers firmer going. With two races under its new trainer resulting in two wins Realtra could be a dark horse. There’s still a question mark over wether or not it can handle rivals of this calibre but it is worth a chance in a relatively weak Group 1.
We head up to Yorkshire for one race from Redcar as a seven runner listed contest over seven furlongs.
The roar from the crowd if fan favourite Top Notch Tonto were to win would be immense but the Brian Ellison trained runner tends to need a bit of cut in the going and is likely to find one or two too good today.
I am torn between two horses. The first of which is the Sir Mark Prescott trained favourite Celestial Path who did well to finish fifth in the 2,000 Guineas this year. It is open to plenty of improvement and has bags of potential. A drop down to listed company and a drop in trip should both help and it has a great opportunity to win. The other horse that I like the look of seems mightily over priced at around 8/1. Tupi has been fancied by quite a few in its last few runs without finding success. Clearly it is showing some decent ability at home and comes here with a great chance.
What has swayed my judgement is the fact that there are only seven runners. With only two places being paid it becomes a more difficult task to go for an each way selection and as such I side with the favourite by the narrowest of margins.
Celestial Path (WIN)
The final of nine races sees the seven furlong Challenge Cup where a cavalry charge is set to line up for one of todays showpiece events.
A case can be made for many of these and the likely dangers to my selection seems to be the ultra consistent Mr Win, Richard Fahey’s Rene Mathis and the Charlie Hills trained Jallota. The trio seem to have likely chances but I’m hoping they wont find their head’s in front of my selection.
The horse that gets the nod here has only raced twice this year and as such may have much more improvement in it than most of its rivals. Gabrial’s Lad has been somewhat out of form but if this Victoria Cup winner were to return to its best it will undoubtedly going to take a hand in this contest.
Gabrial’s Lad (E/W)