With quality National Hunt and Flat racing to enjoy this weekend it’s a particularly busy Saturday of racing. The ITV Racing cameras are broadcasting action from both codes with Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting providing the jumps racing and big contests from both Newbury and Doncaster making up the action on the level.
A busy Saturday means lots of chances to beat the bookies. This is a great time of year for the sport, with something for everyone as the shift to NH takes place. As usual, we’ve gone through each of the live races to try and find the best of the available betting value in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes
Group 3, 7f
The Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes is an important race for promising juveniles but it is not an easy one to call. None of the last 10 renewals have gone the way of the favourite and it’s going to be difficult for Striking Star to buck that trend. It’s not that Charlie Appleby’s colt is lacking in talent but he has a lot of high class challengers to get the better of.
Lord Of Biscay could be the one to land the first prize of nearly £30,000. Winning a Group 3 on just his second racecourse appearance would be an excellent result for this son of Lope De Vega but Roger Varian has every reason to be confident he can get the win should he take the expected step forward. His half-brother, Bayside Boy, has had an excellent season at three and Lord Of Biscay can mark himself as one to keep a very close eye on.
2:05 888Sport Is Made To Play Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m1f
The only thing keeping a handle on the field sizes at Cheltenham on Saturday is the good to firm ground. Good to soft are the idea conditions at Prestbury Park and many trainers are happy to show a bit of patience and wait until the rain really comes before getting their horses’ seasons underway.
Thus, we have only 10 horses in the opener, the vast majority of whom have not run on ground this firm. Organdi is one of the few to have been successful on ground with firm in the description. He has been kept busy over the summer months and can take advantage of his suitability to conditions to run a big race so consider backing him each way at the very nice odds of 12/1.
2:25 Virgin Bet St Simon Stakes
Group 3, 1m4f
It has been an excellent season for all those connected with Hamish. The six-year-old has taken his form to a new level including finishing second to Kyprios in the Irish St Leger. He followed that impressive run up with victory in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot at the start of the month where he looked much better than a Group 3 performer.
It is perhaps surprising then that William Haggas and connections have kept Hamish in Group 3 company for his next outing. The bookmakers clearly agree with the feeling that he could be competitive at a higher level as Hamish is a best price of a mere 8/11 to win the Virgin Bet St Simon Stakes. It’s not the most tempting price of the day but even so, Hamish could be the safest bet of Saturday’s racing and is solid enough value.
2:40 Masterson Holdings Hurdle
Class 2, 2m½f
Pied Piper is the narrow favourite for Gordon Elliott in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle. Connections have every reason to feel confident about him as he is clearly a talented horse and has already won at Cheltenham. However, leading challenger Knight Salute has looked even more confident around the Old Course at Cheltenham and is taken to get the favourite beaten.
Knight Salute actually dead heated with Pied Piper the last time they met only to be given the race after the stewards assessed him to have been impeded at the last hurdle. The odds are much closer between the two rivals this time around but there is still enough to like about the 5/2 still available on the Milton Harris-trained four-year-old.
3:00 Carlsberg Marstons Doncaster Stakes
Such is the busyness of Saturday’s racing that the ITV Racing cameras don’t broadcast their first race from the South Yorkshire venue of Doncaster until football’s Saturday 3pm matches get underway. The calibre of the racing to come makes it well worth the wait though, starting with a strong looking renewal of the Carlsberg Marstons Doncaster Stakes.
Aesop’s Fables comes into the race on the back of two disappointing runs and yet he has been installed as the bookies’ favourite at odds of 5/4 that we fancy will be closer to evens come the off. That price suggests that the market supports Aidan O’Brien’s decision to drop this son of No Nay Never down to 6f. What he lacks in stamina to dominate over 7f, Aesop’s Fables makes up for in terms of sheer pace and he should get back to winning ways at a decent price here.
3:15 888Sport Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m
It’s another race at Cheltenham where the going seems to have spooked some trainers. Only seven horses will contest the 888Sport Handicap Chase although that is not particularly small by the recent standards of this minimum distance chase.
Gary Moore initially seemed unconcerned about the going as he was set to send two well fancied horses to Cheltenham for this one. As it turns out he will only be represented by Editeur Du Gite (3/1) and yet he may well be celebrating come the end of the race. For all that he loves the mud, Editeur Du Gite has enough pace to cope with faster conditions on Saturday and Moore will hope that his charge can take the race out of his rivals’ hands with a strong front-running performance.
3:35 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes
Group 1, 1m
The Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes always provides clues to the following season’s Classics and this year will be no different. The bookies’ favourite for the final Group 1 of the British Flat season, Auguste Rodin, is also the favourite for next year’s Derby. Anybody who has backed the Ballydoyle colt outright for the 2023 Derby will be hopeful of a big run on Saturday and they are likely to be rewarded.
After failing to live up to the billing of an odds-on favourite on his debut, Auguste Rodin has been perfect with wins over 7f and 1m at Naas and Leopardstown respectively. He’s taken steps forward each time with his best run coming on soft ground. That’s good news given the going at Doncaster is set to be soft on Saturday. There’s some stiff competition in the shape of Epicteus and Holloway Boy but it’s Auguste Rodin who will take all the beating and the widely available price of 5/6 looks fair.
3:50 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 3m
The prize fund for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle is small relative to much of the racing earlier on the Cheltenham card on Saturday and yet this is the race that has produced the biggest field of the day. This has historically been a difficult race to predict and with 18 runners set to go to post it’s not going to get any easier for punters this time around.
In the quest to narrow down the field you have to try and find a horse who has proven form at Cheltenham, who can get the 3m trip no problem and who will have no issue acting on the ground. Panic Attack fits that bill nicely and at 15/2 he represents a tempting enough betting option, albeit for small stakes in our view.
4:10 vertem.co.uk Handicap
Class 2, 5f
This will be the final outing of the year for many Flat horses. Connections of those who have had some tough luck recently will be hoping for a fairy tale ending with a big win before their horses get put away for the winter. Richard Fahey and all connected to Vintage Clarets are due a big one as much as anybody after the three-year-old finished runner up two races in a row.
Vintage Clarets has time on his side and should have at least two more seasons to earn a decent amount of prize money. Fahey would love that winning to begin again in the vertem.co.uk Handicap and Vintage Clarets does appear to be well treated by an official handicap rating of 91. He’ll need to come on strong in the closing stages as he’s not the fastest out of the stalls but Vintage Clarets can use his pace to wear the opposition down on the sort of soft ground that he thrives on.