This strangest of Flat racing seasons is beginning to have some semblance of normality to it. The Ebor Festival gets underway in its normal slot next week and ITV are broadcasting the usual warm up weekend for the action at York.
Saturday’s cards at Newbury and Newmarket top the billing with big races including the Hungerford Stakes and the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. Racing fans also have the chance to watch more juveniles with high potential to build on positive starts to their careers so there’s a lot to go through in our Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Denford Stakes
Guru to win – 5/2
Guru came into his debut run at Newbury in July having impressed with his raw ability at John Gosden’s yard. The well bred colt was one that connections have high hopes for but those hopes were rather limited during his novice run. He looked quite green for the majority of that run and didn’t immediately come on when asked for his effort two furlongs from home. It was a very different story when he got going though.
Guru worked his way out of the pack and quickly moved into contention. He then showed that he has the potential to get further than seven furlongs with a very strong finish which saw him pip Maximal, another very well bred colt. Guru only has to beat six horses this time around and with improvement expected from his debut, he should do just that at odds of 5/2.
2:05 Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap
Night Bear to win – 9/2
Younger horses dominate the top of the betting for the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap, the first ITV race from Newmarket on Saturday. Although the last two renewals were won by four and five year olds, younger horses won the four previous renewals and the bookies look to have called the race right in that regard.
Of the impressive three year olds in the race, the eye is immediately drawn to the 9/2 available about Night Bear’s chances. Ed Vaughan’s charge is the typical improver, seeming to take a step forward each time he races. Another such step would likely prove too much for the competition, especially as he’s off a very workable mark of 82.
2:25 Unibet You’re On Handicap
Jahbath to win – 9/2
10 runners are set to line up for this one mile handicap although there is every chance that one or two will be pulled out on the morning of the race given that the weather is unpredictable so the ground could go get even softer than its current reading of good to soft.
William Haggas is unlikely to pull Jahbath from the race though as he ran pretty well on soft ground at Haydock last time out. His fourth place finished didn’t set the world alight but it was a pleasing return after more than a year out after a break which followed an unsuccessful spell in Dubai. Back in Britain and it’s time for Jahbath to kick on. It would be no surprise if he works his way out of handicaps and into Group level company so expect Jahbath to prove his class on Saturday at 9/2.
2:40 Betway Handicap
Global Giant to win – 11/10
Kevin Ryan has been enjoying a good time of it of late and he is hopeful of more winners over the weekend. Black Caspian will be right up there in terms of his highest hopes on Saturday if the rain continues to fall at Newmarket. Ryan has said that his three year old won’t even run in the Betway Handicap if the ground is too firm but the fact he has been declared for the race suggests that connections are happy the going will ease and that Black Caspian will have a real chance of winning.
Black Caspian’s last win came just two runs ago when he scored over seven furlongs on good to soft ground at York. His main danger in the Betway Handicap is Karibana, who is attracting a lot of support at 5/1 but Black Caspian is the one who stands out in the betting at 11/2.
3:00 Geoffrey Freer Stakes
Morando to win – 9/4
The Geoffrey Freer Stakes adds a touch of real class to the Newbury card. Some highly experienced horses are set to compete in this 1m5½f Group 3 race including Andrew Balding’s Morando who tops the betting at 9/4. There are no secrets about the seven-year-old any more. We all know that he comes alive when the rain comes and the ground eases so connections are right to be confident that he can impose his class and experience on the field.
Anybody who is unconvinced about the appeals of the favourite should instead consider an each way bet on Sextant at 9/1. His chances of landing something of a surprise will improve should the rain stay away and the five year old should at least stick closer to Morando than when they last met at Ascot at the end of last season.
3:15 Betway Grey Horse Handicap
Case Key to win – 5/1
If you were to use an example to explain what the term “horses for courses” means, Case Key and Newmarket would be a very good option. Michael Appleby’s seven year old has run with credit at many tracks around Britain but it’s the July Course at Newmarket where he really comes alive. Specifically, the bulk of his earnings have come in the Grey Horse Handicap, a race which Case Key can win for a third time on Saturday.
Case Key arrives back at Newmarket in good form. After a modest first run of the season over seven furlongs he was back to something approaching his best with a win and a second place when dropped back to his favoured trip of six furlongs. Case Key is the worthy favourite for Saturday’s race and is very much the one the others have to beat.
3:35 Unibet Hungerford Stakes
Threat to win – 5/1
Richard Hannon has trained more than enough horses to know that things do not always go to plan in this sport, especially with younger horses. Threat is a case in point. After a very impressive juvenile campaign, Threat has found the going much tougher as a three year old having been tried in Group 1 races over distances of both a mile and six furlongs.
The obvious next step for Threat is for him to take a drop down in class and try out the intermediate trip of seven furlongs. He had success over this distance last year and punters seem happy enough to support his chances of returning to winning ways. The quality of his opponents for the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes has been reduced a little by some horses being pulled from the race. This could be the race that pulls Threat’s career out of a stall.