Royal Ascot marks the real start of the summer racing and the heat remains high this weekend with ITV Racing covering meetings at Newcastle, Newmarket and the Curragh on Saturday.
It’s a quality and varied day of racing. The Curragh brings the sole Group 1 in the shape of the Irish Derby, Newcastle’s feature is the Northumberland Plate while Newmarket provides three pattern level contests. With so much to get through, let’s get stuck into this weekend’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Pertemps Network Handicap
Class 2, 6f
Can punters get off to a fast start in their battle with the bookies on Saturday? The 9/2 shot Strike Red is the horse carrying the hopes of favourite backers in the first ITV race at Newcastle and there is good reason to think he will give his supporters more than just a good run for their money.
Although a true sprinter, Red Strike comes into his own when forced to run uphill for the final stakes. He’ll appreciate the climb up towards the line at Newcastle probably more than any of his competitors in the Pertemps Network Handicap and can gain compensation for a run that deserved better than fourth when last seen at Hamilton at the start of the month.
2:05 Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes
We’ve seen some very good horses come through the Empress Fillies’ Stakes over the years including 2019 winner Summer Romance. She won as a 5/6 favourite and we have another well backed favourite who could rate just as well this year in the shape of Minnetonka. Richard Hannon’s charge was a very impressive winner on her debut where she looked thoroughly professional and hinted that there could quickly be more to come.
Malrescia, who has already had three runs, is the main danger. She’s made steady if unspectacular progress over the course of her short career to date and, along with Lezoo, will make Minnetonka work for her win. The 5/2 favourite should prove to be a cut above though and is taken to win Newmarket’s first ITV Racing contest of the day.
2:25 Pertemps Network Chipchase Stakes
Group 3, 6f
We have another six-furlong sprint next up at Newcastle, this time run at the Group 3 level. Winning the Chipchase Stakes usually demands a very good performance and this year’s renewal features several horses capable of hitting the required levels.
Glen Shiel is most certainly up to the task based on his best form. The eight year old has bags of experience in pattern company and is a three-time winner on the all-weather at Newcastle. Indeed, he has never finished outside of the top three at this track although this is his first Group level race at Newcastle. Glen Shiel hasn’t been seen since May but he generally goes well fresh so looks a good price at 6/1 especially with the in-form Hollie Doyle on board.
2:40 House Of Cavani Menswear Fred Archer Stakes
Charlie Appleby has become increasingly used to success around the world over the last few years. Backed by the might of Godolphin, he is particularly used to winning in Dubai and Rebel’s Romance secured a couple of nice wins for the Appleby team in Meydan last year. The four year old remained in the UAE following those wins but was unable to win again and he is back in Britain on Saturday for the Fred Archer Stakes.
The bookies are happy enough to price Rebel’s Romance up as the favourite on the best of his form but this is no penalty kick, not with the presence of Stowell in the field. Stowell was unable to finish as strongly as he travelled over 1m6f at Royal Ascot and is one of the horses to have been taken from Frankie Dettori by John and Thady Gosden this weekend. Robert Havlin will no doubt be feeling the pressure to succeed where Dettori failed but he’ll find he has plenty of horse under him coming up to the close and a drop down to Listed company should see Stowell bounce back at odds of 10/3.
2:55 JenningsBet Northumberland Vase Handicap
Class 2, 2m½f
As ever, the consolation race for the Northumberland Plate features a big field with 19 runner set to contest the JenningsBet Northumberland Vase. Favourites have won three of the six editions of this race with two of the other runs going the way of 4/1 second-favourites. Add to that the importance of a draw in the middle of the pack and you can see why connections of Evaluation are so confident
Evaluation arrives at Newcastle on the back of four straight wins which have seen him rise 21 pounds in the official ratings since joining Keith Dalgleish’s yard. The market expects the four year old to make even further improvements and it may not be long before he is running in Listed company. With form on the all-weather further adding to his claims, Evalutation is the one the others all have to beat at a price of 13/2.
3:15 House Of Cavani Menswear Criterion Stakes
Group 3, 7f
The House Of Cavani Menswear Criterion Stakes is often used by connections of horses who weren’t quite good enough for the Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting. That’s certainly the case for Ever Given. For all that Hugo Palmer was delighted that he won the Listed Surrey Stakes at Epsom at the start of June, the trainer was always minded to prefer the Criterion over the Ascot Stakes.
Victory at Newmarket wouldn’t be quite as impressive as at Royal Ascot but it will still require a very good performance from Ever Given. Each of Laneqash, Sunray Major and Pogo sit above him in the betting and hold appeal for their own reasons. However, it’s the three year old Ever Given who looks the best value in the betting at odds of 8/1 and the one who has perhaps the most room for improvement.
3:30 JenningsBet Northumberland Plate Handicap
Class 2, 2m½f
Hugo Palmer was always worried about Rajinsky’s chances of getting into the Ascot Stakes. His rating of 101 meant he missed out on a trip to Royal Ascot but the Chester Cup third has a more than passable replacement in the Northumberland Plate for which he is the 9/2 favourite with the bookies. Second favourite Onesmoothoperator would provide another happy story for last year’s winning jockey Ben Robinson and his Newcastle native trainer – and birthday boy – Brain Ellison. The four year old certainly has a decent chance of victory at a decent price of 6/1.
Trueshan is the other big name in the field. The highest-rated stayer in racing would walk this race at level weights but he has a huge burden to carry thanks to his rating of 120 with 1st5lb more on his back than second top weight Red Verdon. In a race that has a habit of throwing up bigger-priced winners it could be worth avoiding the top of the market though and instead backing Solent Gateway each way at a chunky 20/1. Carrying just 8st6lb, the bottom-weighted horse was too keen in the Chester Cup and then denied a run at Epsom last time out. If things pan out better in running he could be right in the mix in the closing stages so the price is more than fair.
3:45 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
Group 1, 1m4f
Unlike the English equivalent, the Irish Derby is open to both sexes and we have a filly right at the top of the betting. Tuesday is bidding to do something no filly has done for 28 years and, on the back of some incredibly strong form, she could be difficult to beat with her three-pound fillies allowance. Some will, quite rightly, point out that Emily Upjohn was unlucky to lose narrowly to Tuesday in the Epsom Oaks but the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly was still two and only turns three on Saturday.
There remains plenty of time for Tuesday to reach her physical peak and she is entitled to improve from her run at Epsom. That is of major concern for connections of the competition. Of more concern for the bookies is that Westover is arguably the only horse with a genuine chance of competing with the 5/4 favourite. Piz Badile is talented but unpredictable while Lionel has the pedigree but remains green, that leaves Westover to lay down the challenge to Tuesday. Westover is clearly very talented but he should be even better over slightly further and will find it tough to beat Tuesday if she does indeed improve from her Epsom success.