Ascot & York Tips for 29th July 2023

This Saturday sees the ITV cameras head to two of the finest tracks in the land as Ascot and York combine to lay on a cracking seven-race TV card. The Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes takes centre stage on the Knavesmire, which also offers one of the most distinctive contests of the year, as the National Hunt jockeys lock horns over a flying 5f in the Jump Jockeys Nunthorpe. Ascot then stages the big highlight of the day’s action, with what looks to be a sizzling edition of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Seven races mean seven opportunities to back a winner, and here we run through each of the excellent events on offer in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips. So, with this great pair of cards and our tips, who needs to leave the house this Saturday?

1:50 Bateaux London Princess Margaret Stakes

Group 3, 6f

Lunar Shine EW

The youngsters kick off the action as a promising field of 11 does battle over 6f. Albany Stakes third, Soprano (5/1) brings the strongest form to the table if turned out again quickly (only ran on Thursday) and may hold the edge over Pretty Crystal (4/1), who finished two positions behind her at Ascot. The Clive Cox-trained Symbology (7/2) heads the betting on the back of a comfortable debut success at York and won’t be far away if building on that effort.

Charlie Appleby’s Dazzling Star (10/1) appeals at a double-figure price, having improved markedly on her debut effort to score at Newmarket last time out. However, that form has since taken a few knocks, and for us, the best bet in the race is an each-way punt on the James Horton filly Lunar Shine (7/1). This one took a while to get the hang of things first time up at Thirsk but flew home once the penny dropped to be well on top at the line. A half-sister to the 122-rated sprinter, Anmaat, there may well be more to come.

2:05 Sky Bet “Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe” Handicap

Class 4, 5f

Leodis Dream EW

Multiple Cheltenham Festival winner Paul Townend and current British Champion Jump Jockey Brian Hughes are amongst the riders getting the leg up in this sprint contest over the minimum trip. The Hughes-ridden Sound Reason currently heads the betting at 8/1 and boasts sound claims, having been raised 4lb for a recent win at Beverley. The mount of Paul Townend, Ey Up It’s Maggie (17/2), has more to prove on current form but has dropped 7lb below her career-high winning mark and can’t be dismissed.

Three of the five editions of this to date have been landed by Paul Midgley, and in the two years he didn’t win, he saddled the runner-up. Siding with the locally based trainer, therefore, looks to be a sensible move here. However, things still aren’t straightforward, with Midgley being responsible for six of the 19 entries.

Of that sextet, the one to narrowly get the vote is 2022 runner-up Leodis Dream (28/1). This seven-year-old hasn’t been showing all that much of late but is now 4lb lower than that head second. More than anything, given his trainer’s record here, this may well be his big target for the season.

2:25 Longines Valiant Stakes

Group 3, 1m

Cadeau Belle

We have a host of interesting contenders in the second of the day’s Group class events for the fillies and mares. None more so than the Roger Varian-trained Amneynah (10/3), who was last sighted finishing a solid sixth in the 2022 1000 Guineas. It will be intriguing to see how she gets on here, but the suspicion is that the combination of a 454-day break and the likely soft ground may prove her undoing.

Random Harvest (10/3) has the best recent form in the book, having finished a narrow second in Group class events at Epsom and Ascot. However, she was disappointing in the Falmouth Stakes and may struggle to concede 8lb to the improving three-year-olds in the field.

It is one of the youngsters who will carry our cash here, with the Johnny Murtagh runner, Cadeau Belle (9/4) really catching our eye in two starts to date. Showing a great turn of foot to score last time out in a Listed event at Navan, she looks ready for this step up in class, with the fact that she scored on soft ground on her debut outing also counting in her favour.

2:40 Sky Bet Dash Handicap

Class 2, 6f

Abduction EW

Course and distance winner Aberama Gold (6/1) heads the betting in this fiendishly competitive handicap affair and makes obvious appeal off a rating only 1lb higher than his most recent winning mark. He shouldn’t be far away on his second start for David O’Meara.

Richard Fahey’s Barefoot Angel (9/1) is another for the shortlist as the most lightly raced runner in the field and having scored in Group 3 company during her juvenile campaign. However, she was most disappointing on her comeback outing in April and will need to improve markedly for a recent wind op.

In a tricky betting heat, we once again favour an each-way punt. It is tempting to give another chance to the Richard Fahey-trained Zarzyni (14/1), who continues to tumble in the weights but, at a bigger price, we narrowly prefer the Jim Goldie runner, Abduction (25/1). The mount of Luke Morris did bomb out at Ayr on his most recent outing, but his two previous efforts over this trip saw him beaten only ½l and 2¾l, and he’s 4lbs lower here. Significantly, he was lumbered with a welter burden of 9st9lb on each of those occasions, and may produce a more effective finishing bust under just 8st10lb here. At the huge price of 25/1 we certainly think it is worth paying to find out.

3:00 Moet & Chandon International Stakes

Class 2, 7f


We have the biggest field of the day on show in our penultimate contest from Ascot, as 26 go to post for this 7f contest. George Boughey’s Baradar (7/1) is a three-time winner over this distance, including on soft ground, and will likely run his usual solid race, whilst Fresh (15/2) is now 1lb lower than when scoring over this course and distance in September and can go well for Daniel Tudhope. Tacarib Bay (14/1) and Orbaan (50/1) are better than they have shown of late and make some each-way appeal, but overall, we fancy the favourite is the one to be on.

Having won the race on his side of the track in both the Victoria Cup and Buckingham Palace Stakes, Biggles (5/1) confirmed that he was indeed a well-handicapped horse when hacking up in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago. Value for more than the 2l winning margin that day, he gets in under just a 3lb penalty here and can make it back-to-back successes with Ryan Moore doing the steering. Never finishing outside the first two in three starts on soft or heavy ground, he should have no issue with the likely conditions.

3:15 Sky Bet York Stakes

Group 2, 1m2½f


From the largest field of the day to the smallest, with just the five going to post for the Group 2 finale from York. My Prospero brings the highest rating into the race and duly heads the betting at around the 5/4 mark. If in the same form as when a close third in last season’s Champion Stakes, he will take all the beating, but on the downside, he was well below par in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Royal Champion is next in at 4/1, but this looks significantly tougher than the Listed event he won at Ascot last time out.

Alfaila (9/2) is very interesting on his first start in almost a year but does need to prove he stays this far. By process of elimination, the Irish raider Mashhoor (6/1) just gets the vote. This Johnny Murtagh-trained son of Kingman appears to have made rapid strides over the summer and heads into the race seeking a five-timer. Likely to get his own way in front in this field, he may prove hard to pass, having proven his stamina at up to 1m4f.

3:40 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes

Group 1, 1m4f

Auguste Rodin

The best is very much saved until last in what looks to be the highest-quality renewal of the Ascot showpiece in years. Featuring amongst the stellar cast are 2022 Irish Derby king Westover (12/1), the past three winners of the Coronation Cup in Emily Upjohn (9/2), Hukum (9/2), and Pyledriver (15/2), 2022 Irish Champion Stakes champ Luxembourg (16/1) and this year’s Epsom Derby runner up King Of Steel (9/2). There is even more strength in depth too because even the four runners priced at 28/1 or bigger have a total of 14 Group wins between them.

It’s going to take a runner of the highest order to prevail here, and for us, that horse is the English and Irish Derby winner, Auguste Rodin (5/2). That no-show in the 2000 Guineas already seems like a long time ago, with the son of Deep Impact having shown real guts to go with his class in mowing them all down late in his subsequent Classic successes. Sitting on a rating of 123, he’s 1lb off the top-rated Pyledriver but receives a whopping 11lbs from the older colts and 8lbs from Emily Upjohn courtesy of the weight for age allowance. The improving King Of Steel is feared most, but we see this going to Ballydoyle.