Serving as a brilliant sporting appetiser to the football later in the day, Sandown and Haydock play host to the ITV Racing cameras for Saturday’s action. The big race of this weekend is always the Coral-Eclipse but it is a shame that only four horses will do battle in this famous Group 1 contest. It still promises to provide an excellent crescendo to the day’s racing, which also includes a number of compelling contests.
We have a wide selection of racing to enjoy which means a lot of chances to beat the bookies. Therefore, we have gone through the races live on ITV Racing to pick out our best bets for Saturday, with a tip for each and every televised heat.
1:50 Coral Charge
Group 3, 5f
Saturday’s live racing begins with the Coral Charge. Winners at 6/1 and 12/1 over the last two years snapped a run of four winning favourites in a row but plenty are expecting Arecibo to get favourites back on the board. Robert Cowell has done a very good job since taking charge of the six-year-old in April. He got off the mark for his new yard very well in handicap company before coming from the back of the field to grab second in the King’s Stand Stakes.
The one concern for Arecibo backers is that he won’t get the sort of stupidly fast pace of the King’s Stand. His finishing kick remains a weapon but it may just not be enough to win so at a bigger price, consider backing Keep Busy at 9/2 instead. John Quinn’s four-year-old is aptly named given she returned to win at Ayr just one week after finishing fifth in the King’s Stand. She is versatile in terms of the ground so the rain won’t worry connections and Keep Busy has the quality to win at this level at a price that makes her the marginal preference here.
2:05 bet365 Handicap
Class 2, 1m6f
Bookies’ favourite Dhushan sets the standard for this 1m6f handicap after scoring on his debut in this sphere. He looked the sort who could be a successful handicapper when running in novice contests and he duly took advantage of a generous looking mark to win the Edinburgh Cup last time out. As you would expect, the handicapper has tried to ensure that he won’t be thrown in again but by backing him in to an 11/4 shot the market clearly thinks he has enough quality to cope with a rise of 7lb over the 1½ extra furlongs here.
The main danger to the favourite looks to be Kondo Isami. Mark Johnston has had plenty of handicappers like this impressive three-year-old and he won’t be overly concerned about Kondo Isami’s no show in the King George V Stakes at Ascot. Something was clearly up that day as he just never got going. By keeping him off a mark of 90, the handicapper has put a line through that run and punters should do likewise. Proven over this trip and at galloping tracks like Haydock, Kondo Isami is a generous price at 7/1.
2:25 Coral Challenge
Class 2, 1m
Such is the competitiveness of the Coral Challenge that punters have a difficult job finding horses who are well handicapped. There are a few who certainly are not well treated such as Accidental Agent who is nowhere near the horse he once was and carries second top weight. Beat Le Bon is another who falls into that category to our eyes and needs to be running off a lower mark than 104 to have a chance of winning this.
Maydanny is one of the few who may be generously treated. An official rating of 100 isn’t a long way from an accurate reading of his abilities but at Sandown he might just prove to be better than that. This is a course that often rewards front-running horses and although this is Maydanny’s first Sandown run, we fancy it won’t be his last if he is able to dictate affairs before utilising his finishing strength to win at the very handy price of 18/1.
2:40 bet365 Lancashire Oaks
Group 2, 1m4f
Sir Mark Prescott knew the size of the task facing Alpinista in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks. She was unable to get close to Love last summer in York but it’s Alpinista who is the favourite for the Lancashire equivalent. The four-year-old heads to Haydock as a 6/4 shot thanks to a winning return at Goodwood a little over a month ago. Although this looks as though it will be a more difficult challenge than she faced in that Listed contest, Alpinista is the right favourite and so our tip here is a simple one.
History shows that favourites have a pretty good record in this race and an analysis of this year’s field shows that Alpinista is the strongest horse in the race should it go to form. After her Goodwood win, jockey Luke Morris suggested that a step up to 1m6f could be just around the corner but that connections will have a well considered plan. Alpinista is ready to take the next step in that plan without too much difficulty and should land this.
3:00 Coral Disdaff
It’s fair to say that the record form for the market leaders in the Coral Disdaff is patchy. Statement, Aunty Birdy and Auria have all shown signs that they could be smart but it’s difficult to put too much trust into any of them. That opens this race up from a betting perspective to each way options and in that regard the 10/1 available about Seattle Rock is certainly appealing.
It was a surprise to see Sylvester Kirk’s filly go off at 5/2 in a novice stakes at Newbury last time given she was rated 92. Concerns about her being difficult probably stopped her from being shorter on the day and Dane O’Neill will have to make sure he keeps her on top of her work in the same way that Ryan Moore did at Newbury. If he does that and Seattle Rock’s extra experience helps to make her more professional, she can win this. If she is still an awkward character, her natural ability can earn a place.
3:15 bet365 Old Newton Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m4f
The Old Newton Cup is one of the most popular 1m4f handicaps of the Flat racing season. The full complement of 17 runners will take part at Haydock in a contest worth over £50,000 to winning connections. Mark Johnston has won that prize three times since 2013 and tackles this year’s edition with The Trader (18/1) and Zabeel Champion (7/1).
It’s not just the market that favours the chances of Zabeel Champion. He is the first string for the Johnston yard and arrives in a tremendous run of form. The four-year-old ran into a couple of well treated horses in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, emerging from that run with nothing but credit despite going down. Zabeel Champion has to shoulder the second top weight in the Old Newton Cup but is strong enough over this trip to cope with that burden and to earn a fourth win of the year at a very decent price.
Group 1, 1m2f
The conditions for the 2020 Coral-Eclipse were altered for one year only with three-year-olds unable to compete. It’s fortunate that isn’t the case for this year’s renewal as that would exclude half of the field. As disappointing as it is to have just four runners for this historically important Group 1, we do have a fascinating battle at the head of the betting between Mishriff and St Mark’s Basilica.
There is little doubt that Mishriff is the best horse of the two currently. He is one year older and took his form to a whole new level with hugely impressive back to back wins in the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic. The issue is that he has 8lb extra to carry compared to St Mark’s Basilica, Aidan O’Brien’s French Guineas winner. Mishriff also has to do enough to shake off the challenge of another highly decorated globe trotter in Addeybb, who is making his return to British racing after plundering another Group 1 in Australia earlier this year.
Like Mishriff, Addeybb is a tremendous galloper who is well suited by the long home straight at Sandown. They will get going a fair way out and could make the finishing stages just a bit too hot for St Mark’s Basilica to handle and of the two, preference narrowly goes to Addeybb because of the rain in the forecast from Friday night into Saturday morning. He loves some cut in the ground and that can help him outlast the pair ahead of him in the betting to score at 11/4.