Monday July 10th 4.30pm
The five day dec’s are out for Saturday and what a treat! Loads of races are already priced up and todays blog looks at the Bunbury and John Smiths Cups where finding the winner of either will reap rich rewards. Crack both and it’s a life of Riley!
Indeed the TV schedule for Saturday July 15th, the first super Saturday of 2017, is mouth-watering.
So the plan is to blog Thursdays Newmarket TV card on Tuesday, then Wednesday do Fridays and on Thursday and Friday blog about the wonderful racing at Newmarket, York, Ascot AND Chester. Money to be made but important to do your homework as Saturday could just be too much. Easy to miss a gem!
Newmarket 3.25 7F Bunbury Cup July 15th 2017
Seven furlongs on Good to Firm ground at Newmarket for a first prize of £75K you would think they would be queuing up to throw their hat into the ring but everyone is keeping their cards very close to their chest. Why? In the next four weeks we have the even more valuable Gigaset International handicap over the same seven furlong trip at Ascot (July 29th) then the BetFred mile and the six furlong Stewards Cup at Goodwood the following week.
Trying to find an obvious improver with ten pounds in hand for the Bunbury looks impossible, well almost! I have a feeling at least half the field of twenty will be six years old plus who need some desperate help from the handicapper and are running because they can and it’s the only way to get that Official Rating lowered. After last weekend’s Old Newton Cup I am also fearful that the winner could come from the top four in the weights because they are simply the best horses in the race, at Haydock the first two were 1 & 2 on the race card, both off an OR of 104.
There is a Silver Bunbury Cup on the Friday for those who don’t get into the real thing and it will be interesting to see what number gets you into the Saturday race. Having recently watched both races for the past few years it seems a very fair race as they tend to race down the middle and I saw very few hard luck stories. Equally I saw no winners come from way back, you need to race prominently, lead at the top of the final rise and hold on for the final hundred yards. Hold up horses are making their ground up on the steepest part of the track. I think course experience is beneficial but otherwise the winner could come from anywhere.
Four horses interest me:-
WITHERNSEA This horse goes against everything I said above. He’s a 6yo, needs a mile, cut in the ground and something to aim at in the final furlong BUT Richard Fahey has a ridiculous record in the Bunbury Cup in recent years and this is the only one that might get in! Plus Withernsea off this same mark last year on Good to Firm ground ran on to snatch third in the Silver Cup last year and the horse is in excellent form currently. Number 19 on the five day list so should run.
Currently top priced 40/1 BetFred
MAKZEEM Roger Charlton’s 4yo half-brother to Al Khazeem was a course and distance winner last time out getting a six pound penalty putting him up to OR94 which still makes him more likely to line up in the Silver Cup on Friday but his trainer said “Makzeem got a much-deserved success at Newmarket yesterday after bumping into plenty of good horses last year and getting set alight by an errant horse/rider at Sandown. Back in trip to 7f, he won well. He may not get into the Bunbury Cup but that could be the race for him.” That’s my sort of quote, fingers crossed! Number 26 on the five day list so everything crossed now.
Currently top priced 33/1 BetFred
GUNMETAL Lost his way a little in his last two runs but he fulfils all the criteria I was looking for. He’s won over 7F, he’s a 4yo, he has course form, he doesn’t seem ground dependent, he is good off the front and he is stepping up from 6F. With a mark of OR93 I expect to be backing him in the Silver Cup! Number 32 on the five day list so the Friday race looks likely.
Currently top priced 33/1 general
MURAD KHAN Hugo Palmers 4yo could still be improving despite a six pound penalty pushing his mark up to OR104 for this race. Backward as a 2yo with just the one placed effort on the AW at Kempton he won his first three races as a 3yo including beating Nimr at Doncaster and Ballet Concerto at Thirsk in mile handicaps but then disappointed when tried in Listed company. Well fancied for the Hambleton handicap on his first run this season he boiled over in the preliminaries and ran no race. They gelded him and eight days ago he behaved impeccably in a first time hood and won a C2 8F handicap at Windsor beating the likes of Chelsea Lad and Donncha. He races prominently and has a touch of class being a son of Ravens Pass out of a Sadler’s Well and his half-brother Ascription improved for being gelded. Non-Runner!
York 3.25 10F John Smiths Cup July 15th 2017
(John Smith’s Silver Cup run on the same day is NOT a consolation race but a competitive 14F handicap, quite separate.)
One tough race to win. In my opinion you have to race prominently, in the first half dozen, to win it. The draw isn’t crucial but the first dog leg bend to the left after three hundred yards is crucial. You need enough early pace to get in the first half dozen and preferably on the rail and that is how they stay until in the straight when they come down the middle and in an ideal world you challenge on the stands side just before the furlong pole, get your head in front and guts it out! Now to find the horse that can do that!! Well I’ve had two on my short list for months and I’m not for changing.
ANOTHER TOUCH Those of you that know me know I am this horse’s No.1 fan ever since he did us a massive favour at Ayr as a 2yo! Since then he has continued to progress and he needs a solid gallop and something to aim at in the last hundred yards. His form this season has been outstanding. He was second in that really strong Spring Cup at Newbury when Spencer delivered Banksea in the shadow of the post as only Spencer can. He was fourth in the Listed Hambleton handicap here, with Victory Bond just in front, when staying on strongly. He then won over 8½F at Nottingham when showing a neat turn of foot. Last time out he was prominent for a long way in the Hunt Cup but with no cover under claimer Connor Murtagh. I think the horse will find the additional two furlongs ideal as he is such a strong traveller in his races and being out of a Nayef mare I think he has every chance of being effective at 10F.
I think the extra trip is a plus but it is a doubt, as are his ability to get close enough early on, is he best with some give in the ground and is he actually good enough to win a race of this quality off OR104? That is why he is available at 20/1 with Paddy Power and 16/1 generally.
Ever since he failed to pick up Weekend Offender by a neck here on the Knavesmire over a mile last October I have had this race down as THE target and I am fairly sure so has #FantasticMrFahey!
Currently top priced 20/1 general PP 16/1 general.
VICTORY BOND This horse probably has a bit more class than Another Touch and this race would be only the sixth of his career but he has been on my radar ever since I saw him win his 3yo maiden at Ripon by seven lengths. The notebook says “Group horse in a handicap” and I was mildly surprised to see him gelded at the end of his 3yo season but this season this son of Medicean ran an excellent third in the 8F Listed Hambleton handicap here at York and his pedigree suggests 10F will be ideal. I would expect Victory Bond to be hugely competitive off OR102 IF he lines up as ATR’s Gary Nutting posted a quote from William Haggas saying “This has been the plan but we’re dependent on the weather. He needs cut in the ground and I would be reluctant to run him if conditions are too quick.”
Currently top priced 12/1 PP 8/1 general
Messrs Fahey and Haggas are two men you always want on your side when punting at York!!