With the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe behind us and British Champions Day just a week away we really are in the closing stages of the Flat season. Things are not over just yet though but the Cesarewitch is another signpost that it is nearly time for the jumps to properly take over and that huge staying handicap is the feature race of ITV Racing’s coverage on Saturday.
We also have some excellent two-year-old races at Newmarket, whilst three very good handicaps from York do more than just flesh out the card. All in all it we have an excellent Saturday of racing to enjoy and we’ve gone through each of the live ITV races to pick out our best bets below. The Flat campaign may be drawing to a close but we reckon there are still plenty more winners in the bag before we turn our attentions to the National Hunt game.
1:45 Godolphin Flying Zetland Stakes
Group 3, 1m2f
The Flying Zetland Stakes isn’t a Group 1 like the Dewhurst Stakes later in the day but it usually produces some very good staying types. Whether or not there is another St Leger winner in this year’s field to follow in the footsteps of Kew Gardens remains to be seen but we do know that it will take a lot of guts on behalf of the winner to win over this long trip for two-year-olds.
Bluegrass has only made two appearances so far but he’s already shown enough to suggest that he has a lot of heart. His debut run ended in a so-so middle of the pack finish but he caught the eye as one who could improve for the run. That he most certainly did with a fine win over 1m at the Curragh next time out. He had the look of a horse who would only get better for a longer trip so Bluegrass can take another big step forward at decent looking odds of 4/1.
2:02 Coral Beaten-By-A-Length Free Bet Rockingham Stakes
The first ITV Racing action from York comes in the shape of this competitive looking six-furlong sprint for two year olds. There are several decent-looking contenders to take the victory including the William Haggas-trained Canonized (available at 5/1) and the 7/1 shot Alotaibi from the Gosden yard.
In this contest, though, it is hard to look past the favourite, Tom Dascombe’s Ever Given, who is a shade shorter than the aforementioned Canonized at 4/1. He’s one of the most experienced runners in the field and he won at York back in August in a field of 20. That was his fourth win in total and he was unlucky not to land his fifth last time out at Doncaster when he was beaten by a neck over six and a half furlongs. He kept on well that day and dropping back down to six furlongs could suit. For those seeking each way options at longer odds, Pockett Rockett at 12/1 and Edward Cornelius at 25/1 are both worthy of consideration. But for us, it’s the favourite all the way.
2:20 Emirates Autumn Stakes
Group 3, 1m
William Buick is an excellent jockey. He remains in the hunt for the jockey’s championship up against Oisin Murphy but he was left to rue a missed opportunity to close the gap last month at Newmarket. Everything was going according to plan on board Coroebus, so much so that Buick misjudged the right time to send the Godolphin colt for his winning effort.
In hindsight the move for the line came too soon as Royal Patronage was able to come back at Coroebus to win the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes. As frustrating as that was for all concerned, Buick has a great chance to right that wrong in the Autumn Stakes. Charlie Appleby remains very happy with everything that Coroebus has done in his short career so far and he should have little trouble returning to winning ways at a best price of 8/11. Possibly the NAP of the day for us.
2:37 Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Handicap
Class 2, 1m2½f
There are some very good handicaps on Saturday which could easily go the way of big priced winners. As with the previous contest, expect it to be a different story in this one as Bay Bridge is well placed to reward favourite backers at 9/4.
When Bay Bridge won a Class 4 handicap at Newcastle at the start of the season he looked a horse who could win a decent handicap prize. He did that next time out in the London Gold Cup and looked a horse who could go on and be competitive in Pattern company. This big, handsome horse is a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver who should be even better at four. He has a pretty lengthy absence and new mark of 105 to cope with but if he remains on his upwards trajectory that shouldn’t be enough to stop him from winning again.
2:55 Darley Dewhurst Stakes
Group 1, 7f
The Dewhurst Stakes is a wonderful race and has been won by some equally wonderful horses. Just look at the last five winners – St Mark’s Basilica, Pinatubo, Too Darn Hot, U S Navy Flag and Churchill. They weren’t all as good at three as they were at two but whoever wins this year’s edition is almost certain to go into the winter as the favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.
The one issue you can have with the Dewhurst Stakes is that it doesn’t tend to produce much strength in depth. Six of the last nine winners were the odds-on favourite with the bookies and that trend is likely to extend to Saturday as Native Trail will take some stopping at 8/11. He looked like an older horse running against juveniles last time out at the Curragh and for all that Bayside Boy (9/2) and Dubawi Legend (16/1) should put up a challenge, this is Native Trail’s for the losing and even at this short price he looks solid.
3:15 Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap
Class 2, 6f
Being profitable from betting on handicaps is often a game of patience. The nature of the handicap system is such that it takes far longer for a horse to drop down the ratings than to climb them. The trick is being able to wait your time until a horse returns to a workable mark and that time may just have come for Laugh A Minute.
Ado McGuinness’ six-year-old certainly ran very well off his mark of 92 last time out. Had it not been for a wall of horses in his way he would likely have won and thus be carrying a considerably greater weight for his trip to York. The combination of a fair handicap rating and the drop to 5f has brought out the best of Laugh A Minute who is cracking value of the Coral Sprint Trophy at 7/1.
3:35 Together For Racing International Cesarewitch Handicap
Class 2, 2m2f
The Cesarewitch Handicap is one of the highlights of the end of the Flat racing season. This hugely valuable staying handicap features a massive 34 runners toughing it out over a lengthy 2m2f. The length of the race means that horses who usually run over jumps have regularly competed in the Cesarewitch and it’s two of them – M C Muldoon and Buzz – who sit top of the betting.
Trained by two of the very best in the shape of Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson respectively, those two tough horses will be factors but only two of the last 10 renewals have gone the way of the favourite. This is a perfect race for each way punters to try and find some value and in that quest the 25/1 available about Scaramanga’s chances stand out.
Scaramanga has become a dual-purpose runner for Paul Nicholls. He could well be seen back over hurdles over the winter but for now connections are happy to give him a shot at this big prize. The six-year-old won a good handicap at Newbury in July but disappointed next time as he struggled to cope with a 7lb rise from a positive ride. Jim Crowley gets the ride on Saturday and should he go for a more patient style he can tuck Scaramanga safely away in the pack before delivering his late effort. From there it’s about whether he can do enough to hold onto a place or go all the way and win. We shall see. The win would make for a hugely profitable day but even a place will do for us!