Horse racing fans have a real treat on Saturday afternoon. There is quality summer Flat racing action at Newmarket, York and Ascot even if the weather may not play ball at all three courses. The difference in going conditions at the three courses is just one layer of intrigue about a combination of big-field handicaps and top-class races.
Saturday’s racing is headlined by the July Cup but that is just one of 11 races being shown live by ITV Racing. As ever, we’ve gone through them all to pick out the best value with the bookies in our Saturday Racing Tips.
1:45 John Smith’s Racing Handicap
Class 2, 1m
Saturday’s cracking day of racing begins with a competitive 19-runner field. It’s a race that has produced winners at a variety of prices over the years and we could well see one go in at a big price this year. Specifically, the 22/1 available about the chances of Fame And Acclaim looks well worth taking.
There is no doubting the class of Les Eyre’s four year old. He did some very good work as a three year old for Joseph O’Brien before joining his new yard just last month. For all that his debut for new connections wasn’t overly impressive, he didn’t do too much wrong at Ascot and has the ability to run well off a mark of 99. Carrying second top weight in a handicap of this size is a burden but this consistent performer will give each way backers a good run for their money at a generous price.
2:05 Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap
Class 2, 7f
One of the clues that punters will often look for when picking out a bet is a horse who was a beaten favourite last time out. If the horse ran well and there is a ready excuse for why they lost it’s often viewed as a positive sign that they warrant support next time out. It’s safe to say that is not always the case but it could well prove to be true for Samoot who tops the betting for the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap.
Sir Michael Stoute is known for the patience with which he treats his horses and the improvement he gets out of them over time. Therefore, he won’t be concerned that Samoot went down to Create Belief in the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot as Johnny Murtagh’s filly was thrown in that day and has ambitions greater than winning handicaps. He also won’t be overly concerned about Samoot’s fifth-place finish at Wolverhampton before as she was trapped out wide on the all-weather that day. There are no such draw concerns or potential superstars in the field for this contest. That means no excuses for Samoot who is ready to add to her pair of wins from earlier in the season at 11/4.
2:20 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes
Group 3, 1m6f
This is a strong, competitive edition of the Silver Cup. It’s a race that always takes some winning and the presence of hardy competitors who have stepped out of handicap company and some classy Group level performers means the winner will need a very big run indeed.
The 3/1 favourite, Hukum, is one of those who has stepped out of handicaps and while he was more workmanlike than impressive when winning a handicap at Goodwood, the soft ground form should stand him in good stead. Like Hukum, Ilaraab (6/1) was unable to follow up a win with another at Royal Ascot but he is a danger as is Roberto Escobarr at 9/1 who could progress further for the step up to 1m6f.
The selection, however, is the supremely talented but fragile Fujaira Prince who is making his first appearance of the season. Roger Varian has to be very careful with this seven year old but fortunately he doesn’t take much training and tends to run well fresh. This is as far as he wants but he enjoys soft ground and his freshness should account for any stamina concerns so the 5/1 shot is the one to support.
2:40 bet365 Mile Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The key to this race could well be whether or not Royal Fleet is able to dictate things from the front of the pack. The Godolphin colt did exactly that last time out at Yarmouth and although this is a step up in class, the dominance of his win that day suggests he could take this in his stride.
If things don’t go to plan for the favourite then Kaheall (3/1) and Qaader (7/1) should be primed to take advantage. Kaheall isn’t the most straightforward type but his quality is such that can play to his advantage. Had he given his best on the course consistently he’d have won by greater margins than he has and the handicapper would have a firmer grip on him. As it is, he has only crept up the rankings and 87 appears generous. Qaader did better at Royal Ascot than his result in the Britannia Stakes suggests so is worth each way support at 7/1 if those at the head of the market don’t do it for you.
3:00 Betfred Summer Mile Stakes
Group 2, 1m
A July afternoon at Ascot should be perfect for the fastest horses. We’re used to seeing courses having to water the ground keep it from being too firm at this time of year but the going at Ascot was reported as soft on Friday and with more rainfall overnight into Saturday morning the hardy types who usually prosper later in the season could come to the fore.
That opens the door to Century Dream. The seven year old is reaching the veteran stage of his career but retains the ability required to win even at the Group 2 level over his favoured distance of a mile. The mount of Jamie Spencer beat Top Rank (9/2) on good ground at Windsor last time out and with conditions in his favour he can do so again while getting the best of the rest of the field which includes the talented Sir Busker who is very much the main danger as he too enjoys a bit of cut in the ground.
3:15 bet365 Superlative Stakes
Group 2, 7f
When Dhabab won his debut run at Leicester he looked a potential star of the future. His failure to build on that in the Coventry Stakes hasn’t tempered expectations as far as the bookies’ are concerned as he is the 9/4 favourite as he takes on Group 2 company again. While smooth progress is not guaranteed by two year olds, Dhabab looks the sort who will take some time to reach the standard required to win this race.
Mr McCann may not end up reaching the heights but he is very much making steady progress and that can continue to make hay while the sun shines. He defied a six-pound penalty to win from the front last time out and his uncomplicated style could work very well against horses who are still learning their trade. Whether or not he’ll beat some high potential juveniles remains to be seen but at 8/1 it’s well worth finding out.
3:35 Betfred Heritage Handicap
Class 2, 5f
The Betfred Heritage Handicap is the first of three quality sprints being shown on ITV Racing on Saturday. This has rarely been an easy race to predict with just three favourites winning in the last 10 years. Two of those winning favourites – Danzeno and Tis Marvellous – are back for another crack at this 20 runner contest but at 14/1 and 12/1 respectively and up at the top end of the weights it will be tough for either of them to go in again.
From the other end of the weights, Mondammej is a more tempting option. The plan was not always for the Anthony Brittain-trained four year old to run in this race. He was due to run earlier in the week but was pulled out due to the ground being too heavy at Pontefract. Mondammej won’t get good ground at Ascot but he has good form on soft. He is lightly raced for his age as connections feel he is good enough for them to pick and choose his engagements and this can prove to be a very good choice if he claims a place, or even better, at a decent price of 11/1.
3:50 bet365 Bunbury Cup
Class 2, 7f
When Ametist won a good handicap at Newmarket, William Haggas remarked, “He looks to me like he needs a mile minimum.” As good as the four year old is, it is a bit surprising to see him run over seven furlongs again as he needs some time to get going and the bookies’ favourite may not get that on good to firm ground at Newmarket.
If Ametist does indeed find it too difficult to get going in time, Fundamental could be the one to take advantage. He hasn’t been good enough so far to win a Group level race but he is steadily getting better with time and may not be seen for long in handicap company. A rating of 100 is probably on the generous side from the handicapper and Fundamental has the ability to get up to speed quickly to force through a strong finish so his price of 9/1 could look a very good one by the end of the day.
4:05 John Smith’s Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m2½f
The John Smith’s Cup is up there with the biggest betting races of the day. As is the norm, we have a full field of 22 guaranteed with reserves waiting in the wings should any drop out on the morning of the race. Picking out a winner from those 22 runners is never straightforward so this really is a race for each way punters.
Of all the possible options worthy of support for this 1m2½f contest, Fishable is ready to take another step forward. The four year old’s win in a Class 3 handicap last time out marks him out as a progressive sort and he’s going to run off a higher mark than the 95 that he’s off on Saturday. Many judges suggest his run was better than that last time and with even better likely to come, a place looks well within Fishable’s grasp at odds of 16/1.
4:25 Darley July Cup Stakes
Group 1, 6f
The 19 sprinters heading to Newmarket for the July Cup are of tremendous quality. Leading the way is the Oxted, the very impressive winner of the King’s Stand Stakes. The favourite is going back up to six furlongs but that shouldn’t be a problem as Ascot is a stiff test even over the minimum distance so he’ll have plenty to give in the closing stages and many punters are supporting him at 9/2 to produce the sort of finish that was enough to win this race 12 months ago.
Oxted is joined at the very top of the betting by Starman. Ed Walker has spoken candidly about his frustration of having to be very careful with where he sends his “horse of a lifetime” because he just doesn’t go on soft ground. Fortunately, Newmarket is set to ride on the firm side of good when other courses are on the soft side. A fresh Starman who finally has his connections can be irresistible. He’s certainly a frightening proposition to connections of the rest of the field and Starman is the selection at odds of 4/1.
4:40 John Smith’s City Walls Stakes
Winter Power has never been an easy horse to get a handle on. After taking some time to learn her job, she won at the Listed and Group 3 level as a juvenile opening up a number of options for her three year old season. That season began well with wins over some very good horses including Atalis Bay over five furlongs at York and it is no surprise that she is the favourite for this return to course and distance. The King’s Stand Stakes did not pan out as the pace was too hot for her front-running style but Winter Power should have the required quality to see off this Listed field.
Those looking for a bit more value from this should consider supporting Tarboosh for small stakes at 33/1. Despite having bags of experience, the eight year old can’t always be relied upon to run his race but he has got it right at York before and if he does so again he could nab himself a finish in the places.