ITV Racing ends this Saturday’s horse racing coverage with a trip to Ireland for the Irish Derby. It is the classiest race of the day and could be the stage for a star to be born in the form of High Definition but the earlier action from Newmarket and Newcastle is much more than just an appetiser.
We have a Group 3 and two Listed races to enjoy from Newmarket and a quality day of racing on Newcastle’s all-weather track which is headlined by the Northumberland Plate, one of the best staying handicaps of the year. In total, there are eight races set to be broadcast by the ITV cameras and we’ve picked through them all to pick out the best bets in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:45 williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap
Class 2, 6f
This is a very nice start to the day’s racing. A full field of 14 has been assembled for this competitive six-furlong handicap which has produced winners at prices ranging from 13/2 to 22/1 in its four previous renewals. The betting this time suggests that there isn’t much, if anything, between Ejtilaab and Woven. The former ran a career-best when dropped back down in trip at Epsom last time out but is making his all-weather debut which could just hand the advantage to Woven who has looked re-energised by his switch to the Michael Dods yard and has plenty of experience on synthetic surfaces.
At a bigger price, it could be worth having a small each way bet on Victory Heights. The 14/1 shot did some very nice work during a lengthy two-year-old campaign even if his performances lacked a bit of consistency. He has a lot to prove after a couple of disappointing runs this season but he’s back from a bit of a break and is a course winner so could go close here.
2:05 Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes
The entry of Najat for this Listed contest for two-year-old fillies is very interesting. Her debut win at Thirsk just over a week ago was very visually impressive but it left a couple of questions. First, how strong is the form given that one of her main rivals didn’t leave the stalls and the other was below par? Second, how much can she improve given that she was very green but still managed to win by a very comfortable four and a half lengths?
It looked as though the safest option for Simon and Ed Crisford was to run her again in a similar race under a penalty to see just how smart she could be. However, they were clearly very impressed with that win and have gone straight for a Listed race at Newmarket. It remains to be seen whether that confidence is repaid at Newmarket and she certainly won’t be able to wander about in the closing stages as she did at Thirsk and hope to win but if she takes a big step forward as expected, Najat could be on for another triumph at 10/3.
2:20 William Hill Chipchase Stakes
Group 3, 6f
The biblical rain that fell on Ascot towards the end of last week upset the plans of a great many trainers and owners. Chil Chil was one of those horses who had the rug pulled from under their feet. Andrew Balding had been targeting his five year old for the Wokingham but had to pull her on account of the ground and it is interesting that he has sent her to run in this Group 3 contest on the all-weather at Newcastle.
This will be a different type of race to her last outing when she won at Newmarket on good to firm ground. Whereas she took advantage of a lack of pace that day, Chil Chil will need to remain up with the likes of Good Effort and Highland Dress who are likely to set a decent pace even if they are both expected to fall away. Providing she can live with the finishing kick of Diligent Harry and Kuhzaam who are both well fancied at the top of the market, Chil Chil can confirm herself as an improving mare and land this good prize at 7/1.
2:40 Close Brothers Fred Archer Stakes
It was all eyes on Logician when he made his first start of the season at Newbury last month. Connections could be forgiven for hoping that nobody was watching the closing stages of the race though as he was made to look very slow by Al Aasy. This obviously classy five year old has lots of excuses having nearly died after an excellent three year old campaign.
Although there are clearly reservations about supporting Logician again as the favourite, this looks a suitable drop in class for him to get back to winning ways. He will be partnered by Robert Havlin on Saturday who was also on board when Logician got positive reviews for his run on the Newmarket gallops. Desert Encounter is a reliable sort who will keep Logician honest and connections will be feeling the pressure as this is a big day for him but he should do enough to win and set up some exciting contests in the remainder of the season.
2:55 William Hill Pick Your Places Northumberland Vase Handicap
Class 2, 2m½f
The feature race of the day at Newcastle is the Northumberland Plate but don’t overlook this consolation race. A full field of 20 are ready for the Northumberland Vase which has been run five times previously and gone to the favourite on three occasions. That will be music to the ears of Ian Williams who is hoping that East Asia can claim this decent prize on the back of three straight wins. The six year old is going up the ratings but still looks to be well enough treated to have serious claims of going in again.
If backing the favourite in a competitive handicap like this isn’t your thing then consider Cleonte at 25/1. King Power’s racing manager, Alastair Donald, sounded pessimistic about the eight year old’s chances in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on account of the ground so it was little surprise that he failed to land a glove. On the plus side, he had an easier time of it than expected in a big Ascot handicap and this experienced campaigner can bounce straight back with a much better performance securing a place at a track where he has run well before.
3:15 Close Brothers Criterion Stakes
Group 3, 7f
Kinross had threatened to earn himself a big win as a three-year-old and although it didn’t quite happen for him his win in the recent John Of Gaunt Stakes suggests that he is going to give his best as a four-year-old. Back off a nice break and having been gelded he won that Group 3 contest in taking style, stalking menacingly from towards the back of the field before striking decisively when a gap opened up for Frankie Dettori to go for.
Hollie Doyle will partner Kinross for the first time in a race on Saturday and she’ll be hopeful that there is even better to come from him. There are some real dangers in the field in the shape of Glorious Journey and Lord Of The Lodge but Kinross should have enough to get this done even with a three-pound penalty to carry.
3:30 William Hill Northumberland Plate Handicap
Class 2, 2m½f
This is the big betting race of the day and the strength of the field for the Northumberland Plate means that it is possible to make a good case for a number of these. It starts with the bookies’ favourite and top weight Trueshan at odds of 9/2. The trends suggest that his handicap mark is higher than you’d like for this race but Alan King is confident that apprentice jockey Rhys Clutterbuck will be up to the task as he takes five pounds off the favourite’s back.
It’s a different story for Dubious Affair who is partnered with Jamie Spencer for the second time in as many races. Spencer will feel as though there is unfinished business given how little luck the pair got in the Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot. Spencer will do everything in his power to avoid the sort of traffic problems that ultimately cost Dubious Affair a Royal Ascot win and he is understandably getting a lot of support in the betting at a decent price of 6/1.
Rainbow Dreamer appeals for an each way bet as he makes his return to the all-weather. He has long been a better performer on this surface as opposed to turf and after running in a couple of races that were at too high a grade and too short a trip, a return to the sort of race that brings the best out of him could see him earn a place at odds of 14/1.
3:45 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
Group 1, 1m4f
ITV’s Saturday coverage ends with a trip to the Curragh for the Irish Derby. This is a race that Aidan O’Brien has won six times in the last 10 years and he is sounding confident about the chances of earning a 15th win in this race with High Definition. This son of Galileo was well backed in the ante post markets for the Epsom equivalent only for Ballydoyle to pull him from that race. While there is an element of the price being affected by people trying to win their money back, there is no doubt that High Definition is the worthy favourite.
The Curragh is a very different track to Epsom and the suggestion from the yard is that High Definition will be well suited to the long straight. This strong stayer should enjoy the relative flatness of the Curragh and can use his strong galloping style to secure a win that will send his reputation sky-high.