What a day of racing we have on Saturday. The Shergar Cup at Ascot is the main event in terms of the meetings but there are some excellent races at Haydock, Newmarket and the Curragh which explains why ITV Racing has 11 races on a bumper Saturday.
With so much action to assess, let’s get straight into the racing and see how many winners we can pick out from the four courses.
1:35 Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Classified Stakes
Class 3, 7f
The Shergar Cup provides something different in the world of horse racing and although the calibre of horses isn’t always top class, it does tend to provide some competitive races. That is certainly the case in the first live ITV race of the day where Orbaan can make his class and experience tell.
Epsom Faithful is a big danger as she returns to Ascot on the back of a taking performance when winning over six furlongs at this track in July. Orbaan, who is doing the opposite as he drops back from a mile, makes the most appeal though. He too ran a big race last time out, winning the Golden Mile Handicap at Glorious Goodwood, and can cope with the subsequent rise in the weights to win at odds of 2/1.
2:10 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash
Class 2, 5f
The Shergar Cup Dash is the fastest race of the day at Ascot and can go the way of Manaccan who is the beneficiary of a nice draw in the centre of the pack. The John Ryan-trained three year old has been building towards winning a nice prize having run well at Royal Ascot and last time out at Chester.
A good ground horse who should be at his best at this time of the year, Manaccan possesses an impressive ability to finish strongly and a fast cruising speed. With King Of Stars and Lampang on either side of him, both of whom race prominently and have been well supported in the betting, Manaccan will be able to track the early pace before launching with his effort and getting the job done at a price of 9/2.
2:25 Betfred ‘Play Fred’s £5 Million’ Handicap
Class 2, 2m
The pace could be all important in the Betfred ‘Play Fred’s £5 Million’ Handicap. There aren’t many prominent racers in the field and the assessment is that it will be a fairly weak pace for the majority of this two-mile trip. That should be good news for the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Electrical Storm who has come in for plenty of support and is available at best odds of 2/1.
Electrical Storm will likely stay just one or two horses back from the lead. That is a sensible approach for a horse who is a modern stayer in that he does his best work late on. He loves it when these long-distance races turn into sprints late on so Electrical Storm will take all the beating at Haydock.
2:45 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers
Class 2, 2m
From the sprinters to the stayers as some very good long-distance performers take the stage at Ascot. A trio of experienced horses – Rock Eagle, Red Verdon and Island Brave – set the standard in terms of quality but it’s Super Superjack who gets the nod from the bookies.
Super Superjack does have previous winning form at Ascot and a favourite’s chance but does look a little short in the betting. In contrast, there is plenty to like about the price of 15/2 available about Island Brave. His last win at Ascot came almost exactly two years ago so we know that he goes well at the track at this time of year. After starting his year out in Meydan, Island Brave has seen his handicap mark slip a little after three runs in Britain and he is good enough to capitalise on a mark of 95.
3:00 Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes
The lack of rain in Britain has been a challenge for trainers of horses who do their best work with some cut in the ground. Brentford Hope is among that number and it was no surprise to see him sent to Haydock in search of soft ground last month. It was more of a surprise to see the five year old run over 1m4f but he clearly did well enough for connections to try it again.
The vet reported a slight problem after that most recent race while Richard Hughes will surely make it clear to Pat Dobbs that he shouldn’t get to the front too early in the Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes. A more patient ride than he got last time on good to soft ground could be just the thing to unlock Brentford Hope’s ability and therefore makes him a great each way option at the nice price of 28/1.
3:20 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge
Class 2, 1m4f
Ben Robinson was confident about the chances of Onesmoothoperator in the Northumberland Plate back in June. It did not work out as he’d hoped that day but connections could have a much better day in Ascot as they drop the four-year-old back down to 1m4f.
Joanna Mason gets the ride on Saturday and her instructions will surely be to sit back off the pace, allow the race to develop and then strike for home. That is an approach that tends to work well at Ascot over this sort of middle-distance trip and it can work perfectly for Onesmoothoperator who is generously priced for each way bets at odds of 14/1.
3:40 Jewson Sweet Solera Stakes
Group 3, 7f
Fitting in one trip to Newmarket was important for ITV Racing on Saturday as it is for the Group 3 Jewson Sweet Solera Stakes. This is a big race for two-year-olds which tends to produce some excellent winners and even eye-catching performances from those in behind.
It’s not often that a horse’s first win comes in a Group 3 but Ivory Madonna has done enough in three positive runs to date to suggest that she can lose her maiden tag in the Sweet Solera. She was a beaten favourite last time out on the July Course but that will only have taught her valuable lessons about the nature of the track. Richard Spencer thinks he could have a very good filly on his hands and Ivory Madonna should improve enough on her return to Newmarket to win at odds of 6/1.
3:55 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile
Class 2, 1m
This looks a strong edition of the Shergar Cup Mile in which the market principles should be involved in the closing stages. Bopedro is a horse on the up at the moment but has to give weight to a pair of four-year-olds, Montassib and Isla Kai. Preference goes to the former after a couple of strong handicap performances over seven furlongs.
Stepping up to a mile appears a wise move on behalf of Montassib’s connections. He has proven himself against fields of this quality recently without any damage being done to his handicap mark. 97 does not get to the bottom of his abilities and he is the right favourite in what should be a truly run race.
4:15 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes
Group 1, 6f
The Curragh provides the highest grade of racing on Saturday as a small but highly select field battles it out for the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes. This race always produces Classic contenders for next season and the as yet unbeaten Bradsell will face his toughest test yet up against Little Big Bear for Ballydoyle.
Hollie Doyle was on board Bradsell when he won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and she’s made the trip over to Ireland on Saturday which obviously improves his chances. It remains to be seen whether or not he has the highest ceiling of these over the course of his career but Bradsell is the best juvenile of this bunch and further improvement will make the 6/4 shot very difficult to beat.
4:30 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic
Class 3, 1m4f
The last three winners of the Shergar Cup Classic were won by horses priced at odds of 9/2 or shorter and it appears as though the winner will once again come from towards the top of the market in 2022. It could well be that 10/3 favourite Hamaki is the one to support.
Hamaki is showing the benefit of wind surgery. He posted a career-best first time up this season when finishing third at Sandown and then won over 1m2f at Haydock last time out in his second start after having his breathing sorted. Although that win came on soft ground, he has proven himself on better ground. He’ll also have no problems with a stronger pace over this trip and will take all the beating under Jamie Spencer who has a good record at Ascot.
5:05 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint
Class 2, 6f
ITV Racing are sticking with the Shergar Cup right through to the final race of the day which should be good news for backers of Adaay In Asia who can watch as she bids to complete her hat-trick. She did it very nicely at Glorious Goodwood where she was held up until late on to strike and get the win. As we’ve covered already, those sorts of tactics work well at Ascot, even over this short trip.
The draw has been kind to Adaay In Asia as she’ll have the more prominent duo of Conflict and Twelfth Knight just inside her to aim at. Providing she is in the same sort of form as slightly earlier this summer there is no reason that Adaay In Asia cannot make it three in a row.