York and Newbury are both incredibly popular racecourses among the locals and those from farther afield. Whenever they host a day of racing as high quality as they are on Saturday they can be assured of large crowds through the door. As we all know too well though, things are very different this year and the fans will be forced to watch Saturday’s action on TV. On the plus side, of course, that means you can take in the best of the racing from both courses!
The pick of the action from both cards is being broadcast live by ITV Racing. They’ll be beaming eight races into living rooms and quite possibly gardens up and down the country. To capitalise on the excellent racing ahead, we’ve gone through all eight races to pick out our best Saturday racing tips.
1:55 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes
Communique to Win – 3/1
We head to York, where somewhat disappointingly, just five runners will compete in the first live ITV race of the day, the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes. Small fields are not a problem providing there is enough talent for the race to be competitive and that looks to be the case for this Group 3 contest for which Moonlight Spirit tops the betting.
Many are clearly happy to forgive the Godolphin-owned four-year-old for his inability to get the trip of the Ascot Gold Cup last time out but it is by no means as simple as dropping him back in trip to get the best out of him. We certainly don’t think this one will have it all his own way here.
Moonlight Spirit looks like a favourite to be taken on and in Communique we may have the perfect horse to go to battle with. Mark Johnston’s five-year-old finally showed signs of his quality when running very well for second place in the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket just over a week ago. Connections are looking to make the most of the old sparkle returning and could well be rewarded by this dual Group 2 winner earning a victory as he drops down to Group 3 company.
2:15 bet365 Rose Bowl Stakes
Method to Win – 11/10
The bet365 Rose Bowl Stakes has been won by some very good two-year-olds over the years and there are a couple in the field who could well progress to have successful careers. Mighty Gurkha is one to take a note of for the future and some will be enthused by the odds of 8/1 available about his chances on Saturday. However, he will need a big improvement to overcome the favourite, Method.
Method’s immediate start to his racing career was inauspicious as he missed the break on his debut at Doncaster but Ryan Moore was clearly confident that he had plenty of horse under him as he quickly ensured the colt got back on terms. From then it was all about waiting for any of his rivals to make a move and when they did, Method pulled away in taking style to reward his backers. Expect something very similar on Saturday in this Listed race, with anything above evens looking like a cracking price to us.
2:30 John Smith’s Handicap
Solid Stone to Win – 8/1
After a five-runner race, the John Smith’s Handicap is much more of what you’d expect from a raceday like this at York. This big field handicap is the sort of contest that really exercises punters’ ability to read form and it does seem sensible to have more than one string to your bow from a betting perspective in a tough puzzle of a contest like this.
The first horse to have onside is Solid Stone at tidy looking odds of 8/1. He was bred to be competitive at a higher level than this and the fact he was gelded and kept in training over the summer suggests that connections are confident the four-year-old will have plenty of success this season. He showed that to be a shrewd decision last time out when winning a handicap at Sandown despite having all sorts of trouble in running and could prove to be too good for his opposition at York.
When it comes to an each way option from just a little further down the betting, look no further than Pivoine at 12/1. Last year’s winner of this race has an excellent record at York and has been targetted at valuable handicaps here in each of his last two seasons. A return to the levels of last year will ensure that he is at least in the equation come the closing stages on Saturday.
2:50 British EBF/bet365 Premier Fillies’ Handicap
Tomorrow’s Dream to Win – 5/2
It is always worth having a look at horses who are making their handicap debut in races such as the British EBF/bet365 Premier Fillies’ Handicap. Baarrij was a very interesting option in the early betting in that regard but the William Haggas team have decided against giving her a run in this contest. They should, however, still be celebrating come the end of the race as Baarrij’s stablemate, Tomorrow’s Dream tops the betting at 5/2.
She was one who made the most of a lenient mark on her handicap debut, winning the first race of her three-year-old season at the end of June. The handicapper has obviously had his say on that run but a 9lb penalty may not be enough to stop her doubling up against her small and not overly impressive competition.
3:05 John Smith’s City Walls Stakes
Que Amoro to Win – 7/2
Will the fillies’ allowance make a telling difference in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes? That is what a lot of punters seem to think as Que Amoro is the bookies’ favourite to win this Listed 5f sprint at York.
You’d be hard pressed to argue that the market has called this incorrectly given how progressive Que Amoro has been over the last year. She made continued steps forward during her three-year-old campaign and showed that there is still more to come when blowing the field away on her first start of this season at Ayr. A real speed merchant who won’t be stepping up from 5f any time soon, Que Amoro is the one the others all have to beat at 7/2.
3:25 bet365 Aphrodite Fillies’ Stakes
Vivid Diamond to Win – 7/1
We have a very interesting betting heat and race in prospect for the Aphrodite Stakes. This Listed 1m4f contest for fillies (which has been switched from Newmarket for this year’s renewal) has produced some progressive winners in recent years and whoever comes out on top on Saturday will be one to note for the rest of the season.
Three-year-olds, who have won the last three renewals, are well represented this time around but it’s a four-year-old who still has room to improve who really catches the eye at a generous price. Vivid Diamond is a very well bred filly and had some good performances last season, good enough to suggest that she has the beating of this field at her best. She wasn’t at her best last time out but should come on for that first run of the season and appears overpriced at 7/1.
3:40 William Hill Extra Places Every Day Handicap
Arctic Fox Each Way – 9/1
The ITV Racing action from York ends with another tricky handicap for punters to pick apart. There are several horses in the field who either need to right the wrongs of recent runs or continue the momentum they have built up recently. Perhaps strangely, Arctic Fox is in both of those camps.
Richard Fahey’s filly ended last season with three poor runs and wasn’t any better on her first run of the new campaign. Her drop down the handicap ratings did not look as though it was going to end any time soon but she finally looked like her old self last time out at Ripon. She finished strongly a fortnight ago to earn third but has had her mark eased a further pound by the handicapper, so is in a good position to take advantage and potentially return to the winner’s enclosure or certainly be good enough to land a place.
4:00 bet365 Hackwood Stakes
Shine So Bright Each Way – 9/1
The Hackwood Stakes is a classy way to end Saturday’s ITV Racing action and hopefully for us to bag another winner. The betting for this Group 3, 6f contest has been a little tentative over the week with some of the leading contenders holding entries elsewhere over the weekend but Shine So Bright has always been aimed at Newbury.
Andrew Balding and King Power Racing have had to have a serious think about how to get the best out of this talented four-year-old and look to have decided that 6f is preferable to 7f, whilst 1m races look to have been ruled out entirely.
He has the class to be a multiple Group level winner but recent performances have shown that he just lacks a bit of stamina. The good ground at Newbury is a boost to his chances and this could be the starting point for a string of positive results over the remainder of the season so back Shine So Bright each way at 9/1.