The ITV Racing coverage this weekend proves that there is still life left in the Flat racing season. High-class juveniles are the order of the day at both Newmarket and York on Saturday where racing fans will have half an eye on the future with some Classic contenders in action.
It’s a little quieter in terms of the sheer number of races but with so much high-quality action to enjoy there is a lot to go through in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes
Group 3, 1m2f
Two year olds can be unpredictable but there was genuine shock at the performance of Flying Honours in the Royal Lodge Stakes. The Godolphin colt was a 2/7 favourite but was beaten into third in a four-runner race. His billing as the 5/4 favourite for the Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes suggests that there are genuine excuses for his performance last time out and that seems a fair reading of the situation.
Right from his first appearance, Flying Honours looked like a horse with bags of stamina. Stepping up to 1m2f is surely the right call as a mile was just too short in the Royal Lodge. Moreover, the race was a real mess and turned into a two-furlong sprint for the line which did not suit Charlie Appleby’s charge at all. The Zetland should be run with a much truer pace and with the extra distance as well, Flying Honours will take all the beating.
2:05 Coral Rockingham Stakes
Newmarket is not the only place you’ll find top-class juveniles this weekend. York plays host to the Coral Rockingham Stakes, a Listed race for two year olds which has been won by some strong horses in recent years. It hasn’t, however, been won by many favourites and it could be worth taking a bit of a chance on a longer-priced horse this time around with Bay Of Plenty at odds of 15/2.
Johnny Murtagh was very happy with Bay Of Plenty’s debut performance where he managed to win pleasingly despite looking very green at times. Most impressive was the way he came on for his trial performance and a similar step up from his first race to his second could yield a big win.
2:25 Emirates Autumn Stakes
Group 3, 1m
Whereas the pace looks pretty strong in the opener at Newmarket, forecasts suggest the complete opposite for the Emirates Autumn Stakes. Trainers will be expecting a weak pace for this Group 3 and it will be very interesting to see whether the jockeys allow their horses to pootle through the opening stages before belatedly winding them up into a sprint for the line.
It is difficult to judge whether or not Epictetus will cope with a slowly run race but he is the unexposed option in the race and narrowly the most tempting in the betting at a price of 5/2. He ran very well at Newmarket when winning a 13-runner race and has Frankie Dettori to keep him perfectly placed as he takes the step up to a mile. A potential Derby contender, Epictetus will love the extra furlong so a well-timed finishing charge could see him score.
2:40 Coral ‘Beaten-By-A-Length’ Free Bet Handicap
Class 2, 1m2½f
The Coral ‘Beaten-By-A-Length’ Free Bet Handicap is proof that you don’t need a big field to have a competitive race. The six horses in the field are all priced at odds of between 5/2 and 6/1 in the betting and you know it’s an interesting race in prospect when you genuinely can make a decent case about every runner.
While many bookmakers are struggling to separate the main contenders, those who come down in favour of one horse have tended to side with Protagonist. That appears the right call. The five year old has never run at York before but it is among the fairest courses in the country where the best horse on the day usually wins. If Protagonist shows up in the sort of form that he had in midsummer he will surely prove to be that best horse.
3:00 Darley Dewhurst Stakes
Group 1, 7f
Isaac Shelby isn’t going to win the Darley Dewhurst Stakes but he will have a big part to play in the outcome. The 11/1 shot has only run twice but we already know that he loves to get on with things and he’ll come out fighting early doors to set the pace once again. The question is, which of the other horses in the field will keep their position well enough to launch a winning surge for the line?
Nostrum has come in for a remarkable amount of support this week and is a general price of 6/4 to secure the win. However, the market may well have overlooked the chances of Chaldean who appears well-priced at odds of 3/1. The Andrew Balding inmate has already won on good and soft ground, has arguably the best piece of form on show from his Doncaster win and can do his Guineas chances the power of good.
3:15 Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap
Class 2, 6f
The presence of at least three horses who can make the running should ensure the Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap is run at a fearsome pace. Typically, horses who make the running over the sprint trips at York can be difficult to catch but if they go off too fast then those positioned just in behind have a real chance of picking up the pieces late on.
Connections of Lethal Nymph are certainly hoping for the race to pan out just like that. Clive Cox’s progressive three year old arrives at York on the back of two quality wins at Ascot where he picked off the leaders late on. There is more room for improvement for Lethal Nymph from a mark of 96 and he can claim the biggest win of his career to date at a price of 11/1.
3:40 Club Godolphin Cesarewitch Handicap
Class 2, 2m2f
The Club Godolphin Cesarewitch Handicap is always the big betting race of the weekend and that’s no different this year even if the field is 12 horses short of full. With so many potential winners this is more a task in ruling horses out than plumping for the best horse in the field or the best handicapped. Buzz bucked the trends last year when he won from stall six. Those drawn low have a lot to overcome; the trends suggest the favourites do too as they’ve won just two of the last 10 renewals.
At a big price of 33/1, Withhold is certainly not the favourite but he has been well-treated by the draw which puts him right on the outside. That is good news even given the marathon 2m2f trip and should make things more straightforward for David Probert who can concentrate on launching the nine year old’s challenge at the right time. Withhold has warmed up nicely for the Cesarewitch and can go much better than last year, potentially grabbing a place at a very big price.