Royal Ascot is just around the corner but there is still time for some decent racing to take place this weekend. The pick of the action comes on Saturday when the ITV Racing cameras will broadcast the best races from Chester, York and Sandown.
This weekend we have a total of eight races to enjoy, with half of those coming from York and two from each of the other featured courses. We’ve heard there might be a football tournament going on somewhere but we know what we’ll be watching on Saturday afternoon! We have a variety of racing to pick apart and in so doing have found some very tempting bets at good prices. So, let’s get stuck right in to our Saturday Racing tips.
1:40 Racing Welfare Supporting Racings Workforce Handicap
Class 3, 5f
Rebel At Dawn won cosily last time out when dropping down to Class 3 level and Karl Burke’s gelding is the bookies’ favourite to win again. In a normal Class 3 race, Rebel At Dawn should win even with an extra 4lb to carry from his win of just over a week ago. However, there are a couple of horses in the field who have the raw ability to get the better of the favourite and certainly to be better than this level.
Eye Of Heaven, the outsider of the field, ran at a significantly higher level than this in his juvenile campaign but has never been able to live up to his early promise. Get it right and the Mark Johnston-trained horse could score a surprise in the betting but it’s tough to trust him. All things considered, preference goes to Lost My Sock who has also failed to live up to expectations but, on recent evidence, is getting closer to doing to. Connections hope that a flat track like Chester could bring the best out of him and 4/1 looks a good price about Lost My Sock’s chances.
2:00 Queen Mother’s Cup Handicap
Class 3, 1m4f
The second ITV Racing contest of the day is shaping up to be like the first in that it is an open looking handicap with the value to be found away from the top of the market. That is not to say that the joint favourites Carlos Felix and Civil Law will not have a say in things but the 6/1 available about Byron Flyer’s chances is more appealing than the 3/1 around for the top pair.
The key to this race for Byron Flyer is that his handicap mark on the Flat has come down to a workable number. Ian Williams’ 10-year-old is used to running over longer trips than this both on the level and over hurdles but he is not short of pace. He certainly has the stamina reserves to deal with a strongly run race which cannot be said for some of his rivals so an each way bet is in order for Byron Flyer.
2:15 Coral “Beaten By A Length” Free Bet Scurry Stakes
Unlike in the first two ITV races, we believe Atalis Bay is the right favourite for this Listed sprint. He left the field behind when last seen at York in another Listed 5f contest but was no match for Winter Power who went on to win by three lengths. Marco Botti was most pleased with his run and must feel that anything of that sort of quality at Sandown will be enough to get the job done.
The big danger to the favourite is Steel Bull who does offer appeal at the lengthier price of 6/1. While Michael O’Callaghan’s charge doesn’t have the same level of recent form as Atalis Bay, his last two runs came on soft ground which by no means suits his running style. Good ground could bring out the best of Steel Bull so an each way saver could be in order even if backing Atalis Bay at 6/4.
2:35 JCB Handicap
Class 2, 7f
It has not always been smooth sailing for Manigordo (which is Spanish for ocelot, a medium-sized “big” cat) since he moved from Richard Hannon’s yard to Tim Easterby. There have been some very good signs though, most obviously when he won over 6f at Thirsk. He also looked good at Hamilton last time out in a competitive handicap sprint and may be seen to even better effect stepped back up to 7f. Easterby has a very good record at York which only adds to the positives for Manigordo, who catches the eye at very nice odds of 7/1.
Given Manigordo’s inconsistency, an each way bet looks the best way to support him. Some may wish to back a different horse altogether of course, with National League appealing at 6/1. He is another who is a bit quirky and is difficult to get right consistency wise, but he has the raw ability to win this off a workable mark of 86.
2:50 Play Coral ‘Racing-Super-Series’ For Free Handicap
Class 2, 1m
One popular angle for punters looking for their bets for the weekend is to seek out previously highly regarded horses who are making their handicap debuts. The hope is that the horses can take advantage of a lenient mark from the handicapper but it remains to be seen whether or not Latest Generation is well treated by an opening mark of 93.
Dogged is a horse who looks better treated with a handicap of 81. He has run to at least that level in recent runs despite not getting the results that connections were hoping for. Dogged’s mark now looks workable and he only has two horses below him in the ratings for this handicap so 11/2 is more than fair.
3:05 Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes
It is a real shame to see so many horses pulled out of this Listed contest but that is often the case given the proximity of Royal Ascot. Ilaraab was one who many racing fans were looking forward to seeing at York but it’s understandable why connections would want to run him in the Hardwicke Stakes instead.
The withdrawals leaves the Grand Cup Stakes with just four runners. Thankfully, that is still enough for there to be a good price available on Roberto Escobarr at 5/2. William Haggas’ four-year-old caught the eye on his seasonal reappearance which was his first run after wind surgery. He is very lightly raced for a horse of his age and looks to have lots of room for improvement. Roberto Escobarr certainly looks good enough to win at the Listed level and this could be the race for him.
3:20 nationalracehorseweek.uk Handicap
Class 2, 1m4½f
The nationalracehorseweek.uk Handicap is the second live ITV contest from Chester. Only half of the maximum field of 14 will go to post but we still look to have an interesting and hopefully very exciting race in store with some potentially smart three-year-olds among the competitors.
Classic Lord is one of those who could go on to a higher level than this. He has already proven himself to be a versatile horse for Andrew Balding, winning over 1m last year and then over 1m4f when last seen at Haydock on heavy ground. The nicer going shouldn’t be a problem given he has previous winning form on good to soft, so Classic Lord could be the one the others all have to beat at a general price of 4/1.
3:40 Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap
Class 2, 6f
We end Saturday’s live racing in ITV with a cracking sprint handicap for three-year-olds which, thankfully, features a healthy field size. There are some very interesting options for each way punters lower down the market but favourite backers may find that they end the day in clover as Dark Shift has a very good chance of getting the win.
Dark Shift did some very good work in his juvenile campaign even though he was only seen twice. A nice win on his first start of this season has connections growing in confidence about his chances of turning into a Group level performer over the coming months so he should have what it takes to go in off a generous mark of 88 for his handicap debut. The only concern is the big field so the more experienced Blind Beggar is appealing for an each way bet at 11/1 for the Richard Fahey stable.