The quality flat action continues this coming weekend, with Saturday seeing the ITV team head to Newbury and Newmarket for another cracking seven-race feast. It’s competitive handicapping all the way at HQ, with the higher-class contests all coming from Newbury.
The Listed Class Carnarvon Stakes and Group 3 Al Rayyan Stakes serve to whet the appetite as the day builds to the crescendo of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes – Newbury’s biggest flat race of the season, bar none. Seven races on offer means seven opportunities to pick out a winner, and here we highlight our best bets in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 BetVictor Carnavon Stakes
Listed Class sprint action to kick off the day’s entertainment, with a small field of seven set to go to post. Aesop’s Fables looks an intriguing contender for Aidan O’Brien, having won in Group 2 company as a juvenile, whilst the rapidly improving Shaquille could prove a danger stepping out of handicapping company. Both boast decent claims, whilst Richard Fahey’s Rousing Encore is the most appealing of those available at a double-figure price.
Overall, we suspect the market has this right, with the current favourite Noble Style looking the class act in the field for our money. A perfect three from three over this trip last season – including an impressive victory over the talented Marshman in the Gimcrack, he made his seasonal return in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The one-mile trip and the soft ground looked against him that day, but he stall ran a solid race to finish sixth. Dropping back to six furlongs and returning to a quicker surface, he looks the one they all have to beat.
2:05 Aspall Cyder 1728 Handicap
Class 4, 1m
The first of a trio of handicaps from HQ sees a field of 11 runners battle it out over the mile trip. John and Thady Gosden’s Ceanna shades favouritism on her first start of the campaign, having progressed steadily in three starts last term. Acotango is also proving popular on the back of a solid second-placed finish on his seasonal return, whilst Totnes looks dangerous if translating his winning all-weather form to the turf.
In a competitive contest, we fancy the best bet in the race may be a punt on the William Haggas-trained Good Gracious. Last sighted scoring over seven furlongs on the all-weather back in October, the winning margin was only a nose that day, but that was mainly due to idling in front, as she looked to have the race in safe keeping well inside the final furlong. By Kingman and out of a mare who won at Group 3 level over 1m2f, this step up in trip may well suit, and she can go close for her powerful yard.
2:25 Al Rayyan Stakes
Group 3, 1m4f
An intriguing field for the opening Group contest of the day, headed by Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet – a horse went off as the red-hot favourite for the 2021 Epsom Derby but has badly disappointed ever since. The filly Haskoy makes the shortlist, having finished second past the post in last season’s St Leger, and may go close to giving Frankie Dettori another high-profile winner in his final season. Of those at bigger prices, the hat-trick-seeking Old Harrovian falls into the could be anything category, but does have a lot to find on the figures switching back to turf.
The most solid option again hails from the Charlie Appleby operation. The Dubawi colt Ybir has been a gallant servant to this yard, winning seven of 16 starts, including four successes over this trip. A winner at the top level in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Turf, and last sighted winning easily in the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at York, he may just prove a cut above the opposition here.
2:40 Aspall Suffolk Draught Cyder Handicap
Class 2, 6f
Back to HQ for a cracking sprint handicap, with a whole host of these arriving right at the top of their game. Expert Agent heads into the contest seeking a four-timer following a rapid-fire all-weather hattrick, whilst Quinault is turned out quickly under a penalty following Thursday’s success over course and distance. Roger Varian’s Revenite heads the betting on his first start of the campaign, having ended last season with back-to-back successes at Ascot and Kempton.
The above-named trio are respected but are all stepping into deeper waters than they have experienced of late. As such, it may be worth taking a chance on the class dropper, Rogue Lightning. A solid second in a Listed event at Newbury last season, he then enjoyed no luck in running in a Group 3 at Kempton. The soft ground was all against him in a Listed class contest at Chantilly back in March, but he still picked up more black type with a third-placed effort. Back into handicap company, and with conditions to suit, he looks a big price to hit the frame.
3:00 BetVictor London Gold Cup Heritage Handicap
Class 2, 1m2f
This 1m2f handicap has been claimed by several smart sorts in recent times, including Time Test and Bay Bridge, who both went on to make their presence felt at a higher level. We once again look to have a quality field, containing an eye-catching selection of regally bred sorts from the top yards.
A decent case can be made for a few of these, including Exoplanet, who ran well behind Military Order last time out, Karl Burke’s Royal Rhyme, and Forca Timao, who could go well at a big price. However, the one to boast the most obvious untapped potential is Desert Hero from the William Haggas operation. By Sea The Stars and out of a Dubawi mare, this one was a decent third behind Silver Knott in Group 3 company last season, before posting his best effort when stepped up to 1m1f for the first time. Granted another furlong to play with here on his first start at three, he is fancied to come home in front in the Royal silks.
3:15 Aspall Premier Cru Handicap
Class 3, 7f
There’s one last handicap puzzle to solve from Newmarket with this event restricted to the three-year-old contenders. Burstow rates an intriguing runner at the head of the market on what will be his first start following a gelding operation and since making the switch from the Andre Fabre yard. He’s a big price but it would be no surprise to see him go well, having been tried at up to Listed level in France.
There is a strong stat in evidence here concerning the sire Dubawi. One of the most successful stallions of the modern era boasts an impressive 38.5% strike rate in seven-furlong three-year-old handicap contests at this track and is represented by the Charlie Appleby duo of Striking Star and Changing Colours in this event. The latter looks interesting stepping up from sprint trips with the assistance of useful claimer Harry Davies in the saddle, but it is Striking Star who gets the vote. A rock-solid second in a soft ground contest over course and distance last time out, he should find underfoot conditions more to his liking here and can go one better.
3:35 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
Group 1, 1m
One of the season’s hottest mile contests for older horses rounds off the action. Won in brilliant style by Baeed last season, we look to have a top-class field assembling once again. As the only filly in the line-up, Laurel receives a handy three pounds from the boys and rates a major threat to all, having caught the eye with a Listed class success at Lingfield last time out. Charles Hills bet365 Mile winner Mustaabeq and the consistent My Prospero from the yard of William Haggas are others to note, whilst last season’s third Chindit could go well at an each-way price once more.
Hopefully, Saturday will be a good day for Charlie Appleby and the Boys in Blue of Godolphin, as it is another of their runners who will carry our cash in the finale. Boasting form figures of 12112 in Group 1 contests over this trip on good or quicker ground, Modern Games is thoroughly proven in this sort of race, with career highlights including wins in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Woodbine Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile. Still only four years old, this admirable globetrotter deserves to land a big one on home soil, and today could be the day.