Saturday’s racing this week comes courtesy of a couple of very good cards at Newmarket and Ascot. The eight races being covered by ITV Racing include a combination of Group level races, handicaps and chances for two year olds to show what they can do so there’s a bit of everything for punters and racing fans.
1:50 bet365 Mile Handicap
Haqeeqy to Win – 6/1
ITV Racing’s first race of the day comes in the shape of the Class 2 bet365 Mile Handicap at Newmarket. This is a stern test for punters first up as there are several potential routes to tackling the contest. Finest Sound has been installed as the bookies’ favourite having been a beaten favourite in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot whilst Eastern World has very good recent Newmarket form.
The form angle, however, has to be Haqeeqy who is unbeaten in his three year old season so far. John Gosden has clearly done an excellent job getting this son of Lope De Vega ready for this season as he heads to Newmarket looking to complete a hat-trick and has every chance of doing just that at 6/1.
2:05 Betfred “Ascot Official Bookmaker” Fillies’ Handicap
Melnikova to Win – 9/2
Sir Michael Stoute heads into this Class 3 handicap with the bookies’ favourite and we think there is a reasonable possibility that the market has called this one correctly. Melnikova showed a very willing attitude in her first ever run at Kempton where she kicked on strongly for the line to win on debut. She was unable to build on that next time out but that is the sort of thing that can easily happen with two year olds.
Sir Michael has so far resisted the temptation to run this daughter of Frankel this season, instead choosing to bide his time and make sure that she is ready before giving her a run. It is very interesting that he has entered her in this race and she can justify her position at the head of the betting.
2:25 British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap
Nasaiym Each Way – 12/1
This has been a very strange season which is still being affected by the suspension of racing. Several potentially smart three year olds have been unable to make their first starts after their juvenile seasons which has been frustrating for their connections but does present some excellent opportunities for punters.
There is one such opportunity in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap with Nasaiym available at 12/1. Connections clearly think a lot of her as she was tried out against some very high level opposition as a juvenile. Whilst she was unable to land a big win, she did show a likeable attitude and willingness to tough it out. If she shows that sort of attitude at Newmarket she can claim at least a place at odds of 12/1.
2:40 Betfred “Ascot Official Bookmaker” Fillies’ Handicap
Eastern Sheriff to Win – 9/1
If you spend any time looking at horse racing form you will know that the result does not always tell the whole picture. Not all wins are equal for example as connections of Eastern Sheriff will know. On the face of it, the three year old came on well for his first run of the season to win at Rippon next time out, however, a number of withdrawals for that race meant that it was a very weak contest.
Despite the weakness of that race, Eastern Sherrif has been raised seven pounds by the handicapper. That does look a little harsh but may not actually scupper this colt’s chances. He did everything he had to in order to win at Rippon and should improve for the run so has a good chance to convince the doubters at a decent price of 9/1.
3:00 bet365 Superlative Stakes
Master Of The Seas – 5/1
The Superlative Stakes has been a very good race for Charlie Appleby over recent years and he heads into this year’s renewal with another very good Godolphin-owned two year old. Master Of The Seas has only made the one appearance so far but was right up to the challenge, winning at the first opportunity at Newmarket.
As a son of Dubawi, big things are expected about his ability to have a good juvenile campaign and then make serious progression as he matures. Master Of The Seas does have a high level of opposition to contend with, but we think he can get the better of his rivals at odds of 5/1.
3:15 Betfred Summer Mile Stakes
Marie’s Diamond to Win – 7/1
The Betfred Summer Mile Stakes is one of the biggest races of the day at Ascot and the 11-runner field assembled for this year’s renewal is befitting a contest of this class. Obviously, it’s a shame that no fans will be in attendance to see the race in person but that won’t affect the horses, especially the progressive Marie’s Diamond who has really stepped up a couple of levels since racing has returned behind closed doors.
He was a surprise winner at Newmarket at the start of June when sent off at 14/1 and few thought he would build considerably on that run when stepped up to Group 1 level in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot for which he was a 40/1 shot. The calibre of that performance suggested that there is even more to come from Mark Johnston’s four year old who is well priced for the Summer Mile at odds of 7/1.
3:35 Darley July Cup
Khaadem to Win – 7/1
The form of horses who ran at Royal Ascot is always a major talking point ahead of the big races in the July Festival. Those who ran well at Royal Ascot feature prominently in the betting for Saturday’s markets including in the feature race, the July Cup.
Golden Horde, winner of the Commonwealth Cup, is deserving of his place right at the head of the market whilst Hello Youmzain is being well backed to follow up on his win in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Carrying Royal Ascot form forward is never straightforward though given how hard the top level races are at that meeting. Moreover, the track on the July Course at Newmarket is much quicker and nowhere near as stamina sapping as at Ascot and it is that which could open the door for Khaadem at 7/1.
This hugely talented four year old just didn’t have things go his way at Ascot where the pace was a little too tame, the field a little too small and the ground a little too testing. He still ran into a creditable fourth place suggesting that he will be a major force on quicker ground. The July Cup is expected to be run at a strong pace which will help him no end so Khaadem has every chance of reversing the Ascot form.
3:50 Betfred Heritage Handicap
Aplomb to Win – 10/1
The Betfred Heritage Handicap is an excellent way to end the day’s race at Ascot. This hugely competitive affair has been contested by some of the best sprint handicappers around in recent years and there is a good field assembled on Saturday.
This is a race in which it could well pay to have a couple of horses onside each way rather than backing one on the nose. The William Haggas runner Aplomb is one of those who should be right in contention come the final furlong and is tempting at 10/1 whilst Venturous for David Barron is the one to back at 14/1 for those looking for a horse who can outperform a juicy price.
4:10 bet365 Bunbury Cup
Tomfre to Win – 12/1
The Bunbury Cup is a highly competitive handicap with a betting market that always has plenty of movement on the day of the race. This is the perfect race for punters who like to try and get on the right end of a gamble as there could well be a steamer on the day of the race but those taking an early position will find plenty of good value available.
Tomfre looks to be the pick of the prices at odds of 12/1. No doubt this is a big step up for Ralph Beckett’s three year old as it marks his first race in open company but his run at Sandown last time out suggests that he is ready for it. He would have surely got the better of Well Of Wisdom that day if the race was just another couple of strides longer. His flying finish really caught the eye and the handicapper has only raised him two pounds, so 12/1 looks a very good price indeed.