The first of todays eight live TV races comes from Newmarket with a Class 2 Nursery over seven furlongs. Early favourite Shozita created a favourable impression when winning at Salisbury last month, staying on strongly to beat the re-opposing Texas Katie by a length. She is an exciting prospect but steps up both in distance and grade for todays’ race which makes the early prices look a little skinny.
Kevin Ryan has a good recent record at Newmarket and runs Bongrace in an attempt to notch up his hat-trick after victories at Musselburgh and Newcastle respectively. As with the favourite he steps up in grade but is proven over the trip and is definitely one to consider at likely each way odds.
Richard Fahey runs two here and both arrive with decent chances. Clef has won two from four although could only manage a 4th placed finish in a Class 2 last time out and it remains to be seen if the extra furlong he encounters here will benefit. Preference therefore is for Fahey’s other runner Lady In Question who ran a great race when 4th in a really competitive looking nursery at Goodwood last month. She was beaten by three progressive, last time out winners and the twelfth place from that race has gone on to win since so with three places on offer and early prices of around 7/1 she looks capable of a top three finish here.
Lady In Question (E/W)
We move over to Newbury for our second race live on Channel 4 and get to see another of the mighty Frankels’ offspring in action. Frankuus won on debut and ran well in a listed race on just his second run, finishing just over two lengths behind subsequent Group 2 winner Churchill. He is not without ability but may just find a couple too good again here.
Mr Scaramanga finished a half length ahead of Frankuus in the afore-mentioned race and has since placed at Group 2 level with that race producing a subsequent Group 2 winner. This looks to be the stronger form and he is taken to confirm the form between the two. At early odds of 5/1 he looks to be decent value for an each way punt with two places up for grabs.
The one they all have to beat according to the betting is Escobar who has only been seen on a racecourse once but put in a commanding performance over course and distance last month to beat a subsequent winner by two lengths. He will only benefit from that and could arrive here even stronger but will likely go off at short odds and his opponents here have solid enough form to suggest that a winning favourite is no certainty.
Mr Scaramanga (E/W if 9/2+)
We return to Newmarket for a tricky looking handicap with eleven scheduled to go to post. Crew Cut has disappointed in his last couple of runs but has made the frame in five from nine over course and distance including winning this race in 2013 off a mark of 84 and finishing second here off a mark of 82 last year. Racing off a mark of 77 today he would have to be considered a decent each way option.
Case Key won on debut for Michael Appleby last week, showing good battling qualities to get up by a nose. A 6lbs penalty will undoubtedly make things tougher here but he was over four lengths clear of third last time out so may still be capable of making his presence felt.
Best of the rest looks to be Andar who has placed in five from eight over todays’ trip on turf but is yet to get his head in front. Connections reach for the blinkers in the hope they will eke some improvement and he could prove to be a danger if they prove effective.
Crew Cut (E/W if 9/2+)
Switching back to Newbury we have what looks to be a one-horse race according to the early markets. Kings Fete was an impressive winner at in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood last months and lines up for the in-form Sir Michael Stoute yard who boasts a 28% winning strike rate over the last two weeks and a 23% winning strike rate at Newbury in the last twelve months. With no concerns over the extra furlong here he will be tough to beat if arriving in the same mood as last time out.
Humphrey Bogart failed to land a blow in the US last month but has won two and placed twice from eight runs on turf, has won at listed level and has performed with credit at Group level so would have to be considered a danger if staying this longer trip.
One who could be the best option for an each way play would be Red Cardinal who has won his last two races in decisive fashion and is unbeaten in three this year. He steps up in grade and distance today but is clearly progressing at a rate of knots and may prove good enough to grab second.
Kings Fete (WIN)
Our third and final race from Newmarket is another tough nut to crack with a few in with decent chances if arriving on their best form. Mont Kiara was a course and distance winner last time out but a 5lbs rise for a head victory is likely to make things more difficult here.
Muhadathat has made the frame in six from eleven and placed 3rd at Ascot in a Class 2 last time out although was almost four lengths behind the winner, while Udontdodou has won twice over the minimum trip this year and has placed twice from three runs over todays trip. He wasn’t disgraced in a hot handicap when last seen in June and isn’t dismissed lightly.
Projection has won twice over todays trip and placed over course and distance on penultimate, finishing ahead of Mont Kiara. He has ran well in defeat on both occasions this year but doesn’t look a banker for a win here so with odds too short for an each way play i’m looking elsewhere and going for Elronaq.
The Charlie Hills runner has Champion Jockey Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle for todays race, has won and placed over course and distance and ran a great race in second at Yarmouth last time out, being hampered by a loose horse early in the race before staying on strongly to challenge the leaders well inside the final furlong.
Von Blucher needs to put a slightly below-par run at Ascot behind him but didn’t get the clearest of runs and is re-united with Frankie Dettori for todays race. He has a strike rate of almost 50% for making the frame when riding for John Gosden, who in turn has a 28% winning strike rate over the last two weeks so always warrant a second look when they team up.
Dollar Reward is close to the head of the market and is another with an in-form jockey riding for an in-form stable. He has won once and placed twice from five over seven furlongs but is yet to taste victory on turf, with his win and one of the placed efforts coming on the all-weather. His best effort on turf came on penultimate run on good-to-soft ground when he was just denied by the re-opposing Gunmetal who should benefit from stepping back up to seven furlongs and in truth looks to be the better option of the two based on the early prices.
Muntadab has won his last two over seven furlongs including when last seen at Thirsk in July. As a consequence he races today off a career high mark having has been raised 6lbs and therefore is passed over here.
Von Blucher (E/W if 9/2+)
The penultimate race from todays live TV action sees us head north to Ripon for a twenty runner handicap with a handful in with decent chances. We’ll begin with last years runner up Kimberella who has to race off an 11lbs higher mark than when just denied a year ago. He has made the frame in three from seven over course and distance and had the beating of a few of his opponents on penultimate run at York last month but couldn’t follow up in the Stewards Cup and has now raced ten times in the last three months so could be starting to feel the effects of a busy campaign.
Orions Bow has won five of his last six and was an excellent second in the Stewards Cup when last seen. He has made the frame in eight out of nine runs over todays trip and looks to have an excellent chance of making the frame at the very least here, although odds of around 5/1 don’t look to generous given the size and strength of the field.
Intisaab is a previous winner over course and distance and has either won or placed second in each of his last five runs. He was behind Kimberella when second at York but benefits from a 5lbs swing in the weights here and has four wins and three placed efforts from nine runs over todays trip so looks to be a good each way option at early odds of around 10/1.
At a bigger price I feel Pipers Note is worthy of a mention. He has a 50% winning strike rate over course and distance having won four from eight and is now 8lbs below his last winning mark. Although yet to fire on all cylinders this season he cannot be discounted returning to a track that has proved time and again to be to his liking.
Of the remainder Nuno Tristan, Related and Snap Shots are others of note in an extremely competitive renewal.
Pipers Note (E/W)
The Group 2 Hungerford Stakes is the final Channel 4 race of the day and hopefully by now we’ll have some points on the board! In truth i’m a little disappointed there are only seven runners here as both market principles (Home Of The Brave and Convey) look very closely matched and could easily run out first and second as they did when they last met, making an each way option difficult. My slight preference of the two would be for the Hugo Palmer trained four year old who has won four and placed once from six over seven furlongs. Despite this, and at the risk of ending up with egg on my face I am going to opt for the John Gosden trained Richard Pankhurst who is two from two over todays trip and after only six career runs is still open to further improvement.
Richard Pankhurst (E/W)