This weekend sees the busiest Saturday of the year for top class Flat racing. It’s going to be difficult for punters to keep up with so many excellent races coming just minutes after the previous one but that does provide plenty of excellent opportunities to beat the bookies. The weather looks set to be superb at both ends of the country but if you aren’t heading out to the track, as usual ITV has got you well covered.
The July Festival at Newmarket features the pick of the racing with the Group 1 July Cup headlining but there is racing not to be missed at both York and Ascot throughout the day. This is a day of racing to savour, with a massive 11 contests being televised live, so let’s get stuck straight in to this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:45 John Smith’s Racing Handicap
Class 2, 1m
Via Serendipity has had a busy few weeks. After winning a handicap over a mile at Sandown off a mark of 91, the eight-year-old was unable to follow up next time out in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot off his new mark of 96. The handicapper has arguably been quite kind to Via Serendipity dropping him back to 93, a mark from which he can be dangerous in the opening ITV Racing contest.
The stats also look good for Via Serendipity. He has never won consecutive races but has a habit of going well after defeat. If the warm weather means the ground gets even firmer at York on Saturday that will be right up Via Serendipity’s alley so he looks very good each way value at nice odds of 11/1.
2:05 Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap
Class 2, 7f
The exciting Kidwah tops the betting for the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap at 7/4. Unbeaten in her two runs to date, Kidwah has steadily improved and the hope at home among the William Haggas team is that she will be a pattern level performer in time.
Golden Spice comes second in the betting at much bigger odds of 11/2. The gulf in that price seems a bit too big and suggests that the George Margason-trained filly is the value option. Margason is certainly in good form at the moment while Golden Spice should be well suited to the July Course. One of her best wins came just over the road at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile and she clearly didn’t get on with Ascot last time out so don’t worry about an average run at the Royal meeting where she was also poorly drawn.
2:20 John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes
Group 3, 1m6f
With so much racing taking place on one day it’s little surprise to see some small fields across Saturday’s race cards. Nowhere is this more apparent than the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes where just three horses will go to post. Small fields are no rarity for this Group 3, nor, perhaps unexpectedly, are surprise winners, so could the outsider, John Leeper, win at 10/3 against Without A Fight (Evens) and Thunderous (7/4)?
John Leeper certainly looked like he has plenty of room for improvement when chasing Without A Fight down in a Listed race over this trip at York last time out. Crucially, he was at his best when the race turned into a sprint. It’s unlikely that any of the three jockeys will want to get out in front and make this too hard in the early stages so it could well come down to the horses’ closing efforts which is good news for Ed Dunlop and all connections of John Leeper.
2:40 bet365 Mile Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The last six renewals of the bet365 Mile Handicap have been won by horses at prices ranging from 5/6 to 12/1 and this year’s edition looks typically open. The competitiveness of the race has seen some trainers seek other options for their horses but Ralph Beckett has done the opposite. Beckett had Jimi Hendrix entered in a 1m2f handicap at Newmarket on Friday but has instead opted for this 1m contest.
Rob Hornby is back on board and ready to make amends for Jimi Hendrix’s run at Royal Ascot. He was unable to hang on in the Britannia Stakes having been allowed to run prominently early on but was passed by two horses late in the contest. The drop down in trip should help if Jimi Hendrix is keen once again and he’ll have no trouble at all with the ground or the 9st 1lb he has to carry.
3:00 Betfred Heritage Handicap
Class 2, 5f
The Betfred Heritage Handicap is the first of two excellent races at Ascot being broadcast by ITV Racing on Saturday. Fields might be down elsewhere but a full complement of 20 runners has made their way to Ascot for what is usually a difficult race to call. Punters getting involved should look for horses who have multiple factors going for them and Zarzyni is one of them.
Drawn low on what should be the right side of the track, Zarzyni is also likely to get some pace to aim at either side of him with Digital and Corazon having shown a preference for running prominently. Charlie Hills’ five-year-old also likes firmer ground and has the stamina should the pace be strong early on. The price of 11/1 is another tick in the box for Zarzyni in terms of what punters are looking for so he is the one for each way money.
3:15 bet365 Superlative Stakes
Group 2, 7f
As ever, there are some potentially very smart horses among the select field assembled for the bet365 Superlative Stakes. This Group 2 is usually won by one of the best two-year-olds in training and last year went the way of Native Trail who went on to win the Irish 2,000 Guineas and finish third in the Coral-Eclipse.
Victory Dane is the 6/4 favourite with the bookies. The son of Dubawi could turn out to be the best of these but he’s not quite the sort of physically imposing juvenile who goes on to win this, so preference goes to Lion Of War. A shrewd 7,000gns purchase for connections, Lion Of War made a real impression on both of his starts. Charlie and Mark Johnston are right to try and get everything they can out of Lion Of War during his two-year-old campaign and he is very much good enough to win the Superlative Stakes at a fair price of 15/8.
3:35 Fred Crowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes
Group 2, 1m
Favourites have an incredible record in the Fred Crowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes. If Chindit gets the job done at 9/4 he will become the 10th favourite in a row to win this prestigious Group 2 contest. There are many reasons to think that he will oblige and we will certainly be on the jolly here.
The Summer Mile usually goes the way of a horse who has previously fallen short of victory at the very top level but possesses plenty of ability. After winning a Listed contest at Doncaster, Chindit has run in two Group 1s this season, finishing 5 lengths and 8 lengths respectively behind Baaeed on both occasions. Despite some suggestions that he will be a better horse over 1m2f, Richard Hannon is persisting with mile races for Chindit and that patience could well be rewarded.
3:50 bet365 Bunbury Cup
Class 2, 7f
James Horton was dreaming of Royal Ascot success in early June. He felt that Il Bandito had a genuine chance in the Buckingham Palace Handicap were he to get in but that space never opened up so the four-year-old had a date at Pontefract rather than Ascot in mid-June.
Horton was keen to keep Il Bandito race fit without harming his workable handicap mark of 89 and did that well by dropping him back to 6f for his most recent run. Despite a good run, Il Bandito was predictably outpaced over the sprint trip and he will be much more competitive back at 7f. Down at 16 of 20 in the weights, Il Bandito has a better chance than his odds of 14/1 suggest and can be backed each way or on the nose.
4:05 John Smith’s Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m2½f
Jane Chapple-Hyam had a tremendous Royal Ascot. She only had three runners at the meeting, two of whom won. The other was Intellogent who was beaten by just half a length by Dark Shift in the Royal Hunt Cup. The seven-year-old will go up 4lb for that run but not until after the John Smith’s Cup Handicap, something that can play to his advantage here
Intellogent only joined the Chapple-Hyam yard from France shortly before the season. He finished second on his British handicap debut (and could even have won), fell just short of the level required in a Listed race and then had his best performance in Britain at Royal Ascot. Most importantly for Saturday, that Royal Ascot run came on good to firm ground so the conditions will suit at York and 15/2 is a fair price.
4:25 Darley July Cup Stakes
Group 1, 6f
Richard Fahey waited as long as he could before confirming Perfect Power for the Darley July Cup. He toyed with the idea of sending him to Deauville rather than Newmarket because the Commonwealth Cup winner prefers a bit of give in the ground. In the end, he has opted for the more prestigious option which is great news for British racing fans.
Perfect Power didn’t exactly look unduly bothered by the good to firm ground at Ascot but could it be that another winner of a sprint at the Royal meeting is a better price? Naval Crown landed a major surprise when winning the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes at 33/1 but he’s much shorter as he seeks to double up in the July Cup. The odds of 11/2 still looks a good price for a horse of his calibre on ground that he genuinely enjoys so don’t be surprised to see the duo of Charlie Appleby and James Doyle celebrating yet another big win.
4:40 John Smith’s City Walls Stakes
The ambitious King Power Racing team are hoping, perhaps desperately, that a return to York will bring the best out of Winter Power. Tim Easterby loves a winner at York more than anywhere else so he was delighted to see Winter Power win last year’s John Smith’s City Walls Stakes before kicking on to win the Nunthorpe Stakes. Sadly, it’s been all downhill since though and while he clearly loves York, Winter Power looks a favourite to take on.
Winter Power raced prominently for both of his wins at York last year. That style of running is likely to be rewarded again which is good news for Royal Aclaim, who also has the benefit of being drawn in stall one. Being able to run against the rail should negate some of Royal Acclaim’s lack of experience and the three-year-old can make his natural ability count to claim the biggest win of his career to date at 3/1.