We have quite a weekend on the sporting front, with the return of the Premier League attracting much of the attention. However, racing fans are also well catered for, as ITV lays on a bumper 10-race card with something for everyone. Ascot’s team-based Shergar Cup competition dominates the TV fare, as GB & Ireland, Europe, the Rest of the World, and the Ladies battle in Berkshire.
Competitive handicapping action is the order of the day at Ascot, but we also have a healthy dose of class thrown into the mix, courtesy of the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes and Sweet Solera Stakes, before the big Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh rounds off the entertainment. Here we pick out our best bets in each of the 10 races on offer in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:35 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash
Class 2, 5f
The sprinters are the first to take to the track as the Shergar Cup sets the ball rolling. Last time out winners Rogue Lightning (7/2) and Intrinsic Bond (9/2) are the two the market has latched onto and, despite being raised 7lb and 8lb respectively, both have plenty in their favour. As a three-year-old, Rogue Lightning is the least exposed runner in the field, whilst Intrinsic Bond already has a win over the course and distance to his name.
Existent (6/1) arrives in good form, whilst Tees Spirit (14/1) could be dangerous if revitalised by a recent wind-op, but the one for us is Chipstead (10/1) from the yard of Roger Teal. Last sighted finishing fifth in a Listed event when disadvantaged by the draw, his previous effort in a handicap over this trip resulted in a ¾l success at York. He’s 3lb higher here but was value for more than the winning margin that day and, likely to get the strong pace he craves, is fancied to run on strongly and at least hit the frame.
2:10 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers
Class 2, 2m
We move from the shortest trip of the day to the longest, as 10 go to post in this event for the stayers. Hugo Palmer’s Zoffee (4/1) appeals on his comeback outing at Chester, but he hasn’t been so good in two starts since and looks short enough. The Grand Visir (13/2) and Alright Sunshine (14/1) catch the eye from a handicapping perspective but have seen their ratings drop due to a string of poor performances and haven’t shown many signs of a revival of late.
We fancy the three to concentrate on are Prydwen (8/1), Law Of the Sea (10/1), and The Very Man (15/2), with our vote going to the last named. This Jessica Harrington-trained 9-year-old ran a cracker at Naas last time out when rounding the field from a seemingly impossible position to go down by just half a length. He’s 4lbs higher here, but that’s amongst the best recent form on offer to our eyes, and he can land a blow for the Ladies under Hollie Doyle.
2:25 Betfred ‘Play Fred’s £5 Million’ Handicap
Class 3, 1m
We have some big-field handicapping action from Merseyside up next. The ground at the track is currently good to soft, but with the forecast of heavy rain in the area, it seems sensible to focus on those runners most likely to handle genuinely soft ground. That ground factor helps whittle down the list of contenders, as does the fact that nine of the past 10 winners have been four or younger.
Freedom Day (20/1) is an interesting contender at a big price, having won on soft last time out. However, a fourth-month absence from the track and switch from the John & Thady Gosden operation can’t be taken as positives. For us, the market looks to have this right in favouring Isle Of Jura (9/2) and Poet Master (4/1), both of whom head into the race seeking a hattrick.
Isle Of Jura travelled very sweetly when scoring at Newmarket last time out and looks fairly handicapped, but we just favour Poet Master. A perfect two from two in his career to date, his sire Lope De Vega was a Group 1 winner on soft, and his pronounced knee action suggests he may revel in the likely conditions.
2:45 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge
Class 2, 1m4f
William Haggas’s La Yakel (3/1) heads the betting for this mile-and-a-half event and looks set to go well if repeating his performance when narrowly beaten over this course and distance last time out. However, he is up 3lb for that defeat, so may need to find more to come out on top. Similar comments apply to the consistent Scampi (11/2), who seems to have plateaued since being handed a mark of 92.
The front-running Youthful King (12/1) is not dismissed lightly following his impressive success at Windsor but is up 7lb and seems likely to be faced with significantly slower ground this time around. At a nice each-way price, the one we like is the topweight Max Mayhem (10/1) from the yard of Kevin Philippart De Foy.
Second on his most recent outing, he looked a little unfortunate that day having hit the front on the far rail only to be blindsided by City Streak coming with a late run down the outside. A repeat of that effort should be enough to see him make the frame.
3:00 Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes
Group 3, 1m2½f
Charlie Appleby’s King Of Conquest (3/1) has been on a hot streak of late with four wins in the space of his last five starts. He makes plenty of appeal on form, but having been beaten in a handicap off a mark of 88 on his only previous encounter with soft ground, he may need the rain to stay away. Midnight Mile (6/1) comes out best on the ratings courtesy of the 11lbs in allowances she receives under these conditions, but this does look significantly tougher than the Listed contest she landed at York last time out.
Savvy Victory (6/1) and Phantom Flight (17/2) seem likely to run their usual solid races, but the most sensible option is to side with the market leader Al Aasy (15/8). The mount of Jim Crowley can blow hot and cold but is a three-time winner in this grade, handles soft ground and bounced back from an underwhelming comeback run with a smooth success at Newbury in July.
3:20 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile
Class 2, 1m
The mile event looks to be one of the trickiest on the Shergar Cup card, with a case to be made for a fair few of these. Dual course winner Escobar (8/1) is handicapped to go well but is nine years old now, and we would like to have seen a little more from of late – for all that he did take a step back in the right direction at Goodwood on his most recent outing. The Wizard Of Eye (12/1) has high-class form in the book and makes the shortlist, having run well in that same Goodwood event, whilst rank outsider Fox Tal (20/1) could prove dangerous if allowed his own way in front.
However, the runner bringing the best form into the race is the Roger Varian-trained, Perotto (11/4). This son of New Bay emerged from a spell in the doldrums to score in style at Sandown two starts back, before running well when beaten by 4½ lengths in a race not run to suit at Goodwood. A previous winner over this course and distance off a mark of 99, he’s 1lb lower here and looks set to go close.
3:40 Molson Coors Sweet Solera Stakes
Group 3, 7f
The only event of the day from Newmarket sees the juveniles take to the track in this Group 3 affair. Karl Burke’s Fallen Angel (3/1) heads the betting following two solid outings but was beaten in Listed company on her most recent start. Soprano is next in at 10/3 but didn’t appear to see out this trip at Sandown, so has something to prove on that score.
The two we like best are last-time-out course and distance winners Carolina Reaper (4/1) and Wild Goddess (5/1), with a slight preference for the former. The Johnston yard has landed this prize three times in the past five years, so knows what it takes to succeed, and it was hard not to be impressed by the manner in which this daughter of Too Darn Hot powered up the hill for that 4½l success. Before that, she had run a cracker to go down by 2¼l in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and can continue her ascent by bagging this prize.
3:55 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic
Class 3, 1m4f
There are plenty of promising sorts in this event for the three-year-olds, including Golden Move, who scored nicely over this trip last time out, the nicely bred Intinso (7/1), who has shown plenty of promise in his three starts to date, and Like A Tiger (15/2) who looked in need of this step up to 1m4f on his most recent outing at Yarmouth.
Intriguing as the aforementioned runners are, the clear standout – in terms of pedigree and racecourse performance – is the John & Thady Gosden colt Rajasthan (7/2). By Dubawi, and out of the Galileo Group 3 winning mare Beautiful Morning, he makes bags of appeal on paper and looked to win with something up his sleeve over 1m2f at Salisbury. The step up in distance may unlock more, and he looks the one to be on under Hayley Turner.
4:30 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint
Class 2, 6f
The remarkable Quinault (7/4) sits atop the market in the closing sprint handicap from Ascot as he looks to extend his incredible winning sequence to seven. Reluctant as we are to oppose him, he has now risen from a mark of 59 to one of 97, and the handicapper must surely catch up eventually. Up 7lbs for that most recent nose success and lumbered with 9st13lb, today could be the day he comes up just short.
Last time out winners Batal Dubai (15/2) and Zaman Jemil (12/1) are both viable alternatives to the jolly, but we suspect the one who may go closest to lowering his colours is the David Evans filly, Radio Goo Goo (10/1). This daughter of Havana Grey boasts form figures of 111175 in 6f turf events, with those two defeats coming when running respectably in Listed and Group 3 contests. Back down into a handicap, she looks reasonably treated on a mark of 90 and can make the frame
4:40 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes
Group 1, 6f
The closing Group 1 contest has lost a little of its lustre following the late withdrawal of the hugely promising River Tiber, but we still have €300,000 up for grabs and a quality field of sprinters on show. Bucanero Fuerte (5/2) and Unquestionable (5/2) were separated by just a short head in a Group 2 over course and distance in July and are unsurprisingly inseparable in the market here. We would side with Bucanero Fuerte to confirm that form but suspect he, and the rest, may play second fiddle to the only unbeaten runner in this field.
A perfect three from three to date, Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna (11/4) won at this track on debut before registering back-to-back Group 3 victories at Naas and Ascot. The style of that Albany Stakes’ success at the Royal Meeting really caught our eye, with the burst of acceleration inside the final furlong bringing back memories of her sire Caravaggio. Looking to hit the line full of running that day, she may have too much speed for these close home.