The closing couple of months of the Flat racing season are busier than you might think. At this time of year many courses are putting on their final big meeting of the campaign and that’s the case at both Ayr and Newbury on Saturday. There might be a bit more of a chill in the air, and thoughts are almost certainly beginning to turn to the National Hunt game, but there is still plenty of great action on the level to enjoy in 2022.
There is a superb mixture of Group level races and highly competitive handicaps to enjoy at both tracks this weekend. As usual, we’ve gone through both of the cards to pick out our Saturday Racing Tips for all of the live ITV races.
1:20 Virgin Bet Handicap
Class 2, 1m
What a cracking way to start a Saturday of racing. The Virgin Bet Handicap is set to feature a full complement of 14 horses, many of whom have a genuine chance at landing this 1m contest. There’s a feeling that this race is there for the taking if any jockey is brave enough to send their horse out to the front early on.
The market seems to think that Koy Koy is the most likely to make an early break and he’s been trimmed in to 7/2 in places. That’s a little skinny to be overly excited about so consider taking a chance on Seasett running a big race instead at the really nice each way price of 14/1. He didn’t appreciate the considerable rises and falls at Epsom last time out but the gentler undulations at Ayr should be much more to his liking so a place is well within Seasett’s capabilities.
1:40 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes
Group 3, 1m3f
Just as the Ayr card opens up with a cracker, so the first ITV Racing offering from Newbury is shaping up to be a wonderful race as well. There is not very much to separate Dubai Future, Siskany, Kemari or Solid Stone and their prices with the bookies reflect this with the four covered from 3/1 to 9/2.
On form, you’d have to say that Siskany is the most likely winner but this has the look of a race with a strong pace and that favours narrow bookies’ favourite, Dubai Future. He was not able to run to the level of his win in the Wolferton Stakes last time out at York but this drop into slightly calmer waters looks a wise bit of placing. It will be far from easy but Dubai Future should get the job done and 3/1 is a fair enough price.
1:55 Virgin Bet Doonside Cup Stakes
The front-running bias could be in evidence time and again at Ayr on Saturday afternoon. That could make life difficult for the bookies’ favourite for the Virgin Bet Doonside Cup, Phantom Flight. As good as he was when winning an informative handicap for three-year-olds at York last time out, this contest on slightly softer ground could be more difficult for him to win, especially with a 10lb rise in the weights to cope with.
That opens the door to a horse like Marie’s Diamond who has been on an extended losing run but could find that things fall nicely for him here. His form is such that there is every chance that the Roger Fell inmate could be picked off in the latter stages but 8/1 is a decent enough price to back him each way.
2:15 Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes
Group 3, 5f
Tis Marvellous can be a very frustrating horse to follow – and trust us, we know! It’s clear there is no end of talent there but even at the age of eight he’s not been able to consistently bring his best to the racecourse. His talent is such that Tis Marvellous deserves to be the favourite with the bookmakers but backing him at short odds of just 3/1 comes with a very obvious health warning.
At bigger odds, Chil Chil makes appeal at 8/1. Another experienced campaigner, Chil Chil is more consistent than Tis Marvellous even if he maybe lacks the favourite’s class. For that reason, it is safer to back Chil Chil each way rather than for the outright win but there’s enough in his price of 8/1 to do just that.
2:30 Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup Handicap
Class 2, 6f
The Silver Cup is the consolation race for the big race later on but this is much more than a second-rate contest. There’s £60,000 on the line so it’s no surprise that a full field of 25 will contest this sprint. Last year’s renewal went to the horse drawn right against the rail but the shape of this year’s contest suggests that it could be the opposite side that has the best of it.
Hyperfocus, who is right out in stall 23, certainly has a good chance of landing the prize at 18/1. This really would be a consolation for connections of the eight-year-old as he tops the weights here and so was agonisingly close to getting a place in the Ayr Gold Cup. His run for third in a competitive handicap at Doncaster last week may not have been enough to get him into the big race but it shows that he is in very good form and he can take advantage of the little bit of give we will see in the ground.
2:50 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes
Group 2, 6f
The Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes is a quality two-year-old contest which has produced top level winners at sprint trips and up to a mile. Sakheer’s pedigree suggest that he will only get better for being stepped up to 7f or even 1m over time but for now he is perfectly suited to this trip.
A most impressive winner of a decent novice race at Haydock last time out, Roger Varian’s colt could be on his way to landing some big prizes over the next couple of years. This is a considerable step up in class, no doubt, but it’s one that he should be able to take at a decent price of 10/11.
3:05 Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes
Group 3, 6f
The Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes is always an informative race with recent winners such as Rose Of Kildare going on to score in future Group level races. Queen Me, the 11/8 favourite for this year’s renewal, is by no means guaranteed to kick on and have success at three and four but there’s a lot to like about what she’s done so far.
After winning her debut race at Haydock, Queen Me came very close to winning a contest which was also won by her dam, granddam and great granddam. The quality of her run in the Lowther Stakes was such that second place was far from a setback and she can build on the experience gained to win this Group 3 contest.
3:25 Dubai Duty Free Handicap
Class 2, 1m2f
Three-year-olds have won the last two renewals of the Dubai Duty Free Handicap and it’s three-year-olds who top the betting for this year’s edition. It’s Warren Point who is separate from that trio and the 3/1 shot certainly looks like the most likely winner in our opinion, though this really is wide open.
Charlie Appleby’s charge never ran as a two-year-old and was gelded before he made his racecourse debut at Newmarket in May. It was well worth the wait as he won that first run when well backed at 10/11 and he’s won two of his subsequent three starts. An official rating of 103 shows that he has class but it is by no means Warren Point’s ceiling and he should be difficult to stop here.
3:40 Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap
Class 2, 6f
The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup is one of the biggest handicaps of the latter part of the Flat season and the top Flat race in all of Scottish racing. Competition just to get a place in the field is fierce enough, let alone to win the race. Calling the winner of this is a big challenge but it’s a challenge that punters flock to take each year and this time around we’re opting for a longer-odds pick each way.
Of the several horses who make each way appeal, Popmaster looks like he is one to side with. Ed Walker’s four-year-old certainly ticks many of the right boxes. He’s the right age, he has a three-figure rating and arrives with a recent warm-up run. He’s also attractively priced at chunky looking odds of 16/1 and should be able to avoid the worst of the trouble in running out in stall 23.