Posted Friday July 14th 6.15pm
First of the Flat seasons genuine Super Saturdays. There may be a shortage of top jocks but no shortage of top horses and fantastic racing. Headline race is the six furlong Group 1 July Cup with the first three in the Ascot Diamond Jubilee taken on by the first two from the 3yo Commonwealth Cup. Mouthwatering and puzzling. The two big handicaps are the 7F Bunbury Cup and the 10F John Smiths at York. Loads of 2yo action, maidens and nurseries.
I have already blogged those two big handicaps although I only have Withernsea left in the Bunbury Cup and he wasn’t my strongest pick. For this blog I am focussing on the days Lucky 15 and a few singles if I can spot some value.
Newmarket Good to Firm (Good in Places)
(GoingStick: 7.8 (Stand Side 7.9; Centre 8.0; Far Side 7.8) on Friday at 09:00)
Stalls: Stand Side Course 12f Centre Remainder Stand Side (Low numbers)
York GOING Good to Firm, Good in Places
(Going Stick: 7.4 overall. Home Straight: Far Side; 7.5 Centre; 7.4 Stands Side; 7.4)
Wind: south westerly tailwind 10mph on Friday at 07:30
Ascot GOING Straight Course: Good Round Course: Good, Good to Soft in places (GoingStick: Straight: 6.9, Round: 6.4 on Friday at 08:15) Rails: The running rail on the round course is positioned approx 3yds out from its innermost position from the 1m4f start increasing to 9yds out at the bend entering the Home straight. The rail then finishes in a cutaway in the Home straight. Stalls: Straight Course: Standside (High numbers)
Fridays Lucky 15
York 1.55 JUST HISS @ 14/1 PP 11/1 general
Newmarket 2.50 CITY OF JOY @ 5/2 general
Newmarket 4.35 TASLEET @ 9/1 Betfred 15/2 general
Ascot 5.00 BIN BATTUTA @ 4/1 Ladbrokes 7/2 general
Fridays Star* Singles
York 1.55 JUST HISS One star* each way @ 14/1 PP 11/1 general
Newmarket 2.50 CITY OF JOY Two star* win @ 5/2 general
Newmarket 2.50 AFAAK One star* win @ 4/1 general
Ascot 5.00 BIN BATTUTA Two star* win @ 4/1 Ladbrokes 7/2 general
Newmarket 4.35 TASLEET One star* win @ 9/1 Betfred 15/2 general
Newmarket 4.35 MR LUPTON Half a star* each way @ 100/1 PP 66/1 general
(9 stars out)
and here is why
1.55 John Smiths Racing handicap C2 8F 0-105 This is a curious contest. Racing over the mile on the Knavesmire you surely need to have a single figure draw and race prominently. Looking for comments in the form analysis such as “tracked leaders”, “in touch” etc. but they are hard to find. Most popular by a long way is “hold up”. That is an awful lot of horses looking for cover which draws to me towards Just Hiss. A winner last time out and raised five pounds in a grade higher would seem difficult to overcome but it was over course and distance and Rachel Richardson made every yard. Drawn 10 here I could see Just Hiss getting out, getting across, getting a soft lead and a lot of fancied horses finding themselves out of their ground.
Plenty of strong opposition with the likes of Abe Lincoln, running here instead of the Bunbury Cup (Connections have favourite Sixties Groove in the John Smiths Cup), and Weekend Offender, runs the course well but has a habit of being unruly, unlucky or both.
2.50 Bet365 Mile handicap 3yo 0-100 Most of the main contenders ran in the Britannia handicap at Royal Ascot and my two selections were my selections at the Royal meeting. These are the reasons I picked them for the Britannia.
“Afaak is definitely a Group horse in the making but is still a work in progress. Raw talent who won late on in a solid Doncaster handicap. Jim Crowley has chances from stall 10. City of Joy is the nap of the meeting. Stoute and Moore know the time of day and I think this race IS the plan. City of Joy was talented as a 2yo, last race was a G3, but wayward, gelded over the winter and has won mile handicaps at C3 and C2 level this season. He has a genuine turn of foot but seems to me to be one of those horses that Moore can put where he wants. May not beat some of these later in the season but I believe this is his day and from stall 17 Moore can pick and choose his route.”
My Ascot review said “These stay on what I believe are winning marks, just didn’t happen for them at Ascot, close but no cigar! AFAAK OR92. Still raw, seventh here and room for one better handicap prize before he goes into Group Company. Probably wouldn’t want to go further than a mile. (Charles Hills) CITY OF JOY Remains on OR94. He was my nap of the meeting and in hindsight could have been beaten before the race started. Did the preliminaries upset him? He was certainly more than awkward at stalls entrance. Held up as expected but Ryan Moore just couldn’t find any racing room on the stands side until the race was over. Certainly not giving up on him yet. (Sir Michael Stoute)”
Both are well drawn, sadly they head the market so it’s two stars City of Joy and one star Afaak and City of Joy goes in the Lucky 15.
Ascot 5.00 Woodford Reserve handicap C2 12F 3yo 0-105 handicap. Whether or not I find the winner this race should prove hugely informative with many runners up in grade, up in trip and for some both!
The selection is Godolphin’s top weight Bin Battuta. He attracted my attention at the Craven meeting in a competitive 10F handicap and I put in my review. “Bin Battuta Remains on OR93 and for this son of Dubawi 12F would seem ideal. Entered in similar 10F race over C&D on Sunday May 7th but also has entries in Dante, Derby and King Edward VII at Royal Ascot. If he did go to Ascot but in the 12F 3yo King George V 0-105 handicap you would have to take note.” He disappointed back at Newmarket but they did send him to Ascot for the handicap equipped with a first time visor and as the Racing Post analysis suggests he had a troubled passage! “Slowly into stride, towards rear, hampered over 4f out, last and ridden over 2f out, switched right and headway over 1f out, ran on inside final furlong, finished well”. Never got an inch of racing room, continually taken back off heels, got loose two furlongs out and flew home. Gets the trip, goes on the ground and cheek pieces replace the visor.
Opposition includes Society Red who #FantasticMrFahey steps up another two furlongs and he employs James Sullivan, down at Ascot to ride Sovereign Debt in the Group race, in the saddle. This horses last run when a half-length second to Defoe at York is strong form but he got a four pound rise without winning! Mark Johnston saddles two, Bear Valley who was third in the King George V handicap ahead of the selection having had a charmed run throughout on the rail in midfield and is now four pounds worse off, and Cape Coast who seeks a third win on the bounce having won his maiden and a C4 handicap both over this trip. Mister Blue Sky beat a favourite of mine, Valcartier, over 10F at Windsor is up in trip and grade but gets almost a stone from Bin Battuta. No surprise to see the visor on Melting Dew as he doesn’t seem the most convincing conveyance and Alfarris has been favourite in all four races only winning once but this son of Shamardal tries 12F for the first time.
Newmarket 4.35 July Cup G1 6F 3yo+ I’ve been mulling this race over in my head for the past three days and these are two talented 3yo’s in Caravaggio and Harry Angel taking on their elders including the first three in the Diamond Jubilee The Tin Man, Tasleek and Limato plus a couple of wild cards. I can’t get out of my head that the older horses ran the same course, the same trip, the same ground (?), the same weight 1.45 seconds quicker and the older horses did the final furlong as quick as Caravaggio who looked to be flying! Obviously the 3yo’s get six pounds here to spice things up. I’m loathed to oppose Caravaggio but I can’t back him at 11/10.
So I’m being swayed by price and I’m going for Tasleet at 9/1. I think the 4yo is improving now concentrating on 6F sprinting, certainly reflected in this seasons RPR’s of 112, 118 and 121. He travels well and that stiff rise to the line at HQ could really help. The other one I’m going for is more in hope than expectation, Mr Lupton each way at 66/1! Since he won a C2 handicap under top weight on the Rowley course I thought he could be a player in this race. He is an extreme hold up horse and I’m delighted to see Jamie Spencer back in the saddle. How the pair caught Dancing Star in the 3yo York Charity Sprint last season I have no idea! He could run well and finish seventh but that price is too big to be ignored!
7lb claimer Conor Murtagh has an important afternoon ahead at Chester with four rides for his boss #FantasticMrFahey. 2.25 The Wagon Wheel, 4.10 Boundsy, 440 Theos Lolly and 5.10 Right Action. Not an easy track to ride especially with course specialist Franny Norton in attendance.
Here is a reminder of my thoughts on the John Smiths and Bunbury Cups I blogged on Monday.
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!!
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 Ran 2nd on Friday GUNMETAL Ran Friday MURAD KHAN Non-Runner!
Fridays Lucky 15 Close but no Havana! Silent Echo was a heart breaker.
Newmarket 1.50 MAKZEEM 2nd 15/2 (@ 9/1 with WH)
The 8lb allowance for 3yo’s was just too much, especially one who was fourth in the G3 Jersey! Solid run.
Newmarket 3.00 LESHLAA 4th 7/1 (@ 6/1 PP 11/2 general)
Hacking two out, looked the winner at the furlong pole when the petrol gauge went to red!
York 3.45 IN FIRST PLACE 3rd 9/1 (@ 10/1 Ladbrokes + Coral)
Midfield, kept on well enough and surely #FantasticMrFahey can find him a lesser C4 10F contest.
York 5.30 SILENT ECHO 6th 2/1F (@ 9/4 Coral 2/1 general)
Lit up out of the stalls and never settled. Beaten at halfway. Gutted.
Fridays Star* Singles (17 stars out 7.5 stars back)
Newmarket 1.50 MAKZEEM 2nd 15/2 (@ 9/1 with WH)
Newmarket 1.50 GUNMETAL 14th 20/1 (One star* each way @ 16/1 general)
Maybe not good enough. Not helped by choosing the wrong side initially (far side) then working his way back across!
Newmarket 2.25 DARKANNA 7th 25/1 (One star* each way @ 14/1 general)
Travelled but just didn’t pick up late on despite threatening too. Still only five lengths off the winner in a G2.
Newmarket 3.00 LESHLAA 4th 7/1 (Two star** win @ 6/1 PP 11/2 general)
Newmarket 4.10 TANGLED 1st 13/2 (One star* win @ 8/1 PP 7/1 general)
Tanked throughout just off pace, nice break 2F out, ran away from them in final furlong.
Newmarket 5.50 TIME ZONE 7th 9/1 (One star* win @ 10/1 PP 8/1 general)
York 3.15 ISABELS ON IT 13th 8/1 (One star* each way @ 25/1 PP 20/1 general)
Keen early but disappointing. Back to handicaps?
York 3.45 IN FIRST PLACE 3rd 9/1 (@ 10/1 Ladbrokes + Coral)
York 5.30 SILENT ECHO 6th 2/1F (Four star**** win @ 9/4 Coral 2/1 general)