Sports fans have another sensational Saturday of action to look forward to this weekend, with a double dose of televised Premier League action preceded by a cracking afternoon of racing entertainment, as the ITV cameras head to Newbury, Newmarket, and Ripon.
The Group class duo of the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and Hungerford Stakes bookend the TV card, with a quintet of competitive handicaps sandwiched in between. Newmarket provides the unique Grey Horse Handicap, whilst the Yorkshire track of Ripon hosts one of its standout out meetings of the year with the 2023 edition of the Great St Wilfrid Handicap. Here we pick out our best bets in each of the seven races on offer in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes
Group 3, 1m5½f
Having started as the 4/1 favourite for the Epsom Derby two starts ago, the John and Thady Gosden-trained Arrest (4/1) is the one to beat on ratings. An inability to handle the undulations was the reason put forward for his flop at Epsom, but his complete no-show in the King Edward VII Stakes last time out is harder to explain. Nicely bred, he may yet come good but has questions to answer for now. Current favourite Kemari (11/4) looks more solid, having won last time out, but is only one from six at around this trip, one from nine at Group 3 level or above, and looks short enough at the prices.
Shandaz (6/1) is an interesting contender for Roger Varian, but will be having his first run in 656 days here and may need the rain to stay away, whilst, at a bigger price, Enemy (20/1) has some quality form in the book, but has been woefully out of form of late. In a tricky opener, it may pay to side with the lightly raced Klondike (5/1) from the William Haggas operation. Finding only the current St Leger favourite Gregory too good at Goodwood two starts back, he again ran well from off the pace when not beaten far at Newmarket and may be suited by this slight step up in trip.
2:05 JenningsBet Grey Horse Handicap
Class 4, 6f
We have a field of 16 beautiful-looking greys taking to the track in race two. This seems a competitive event at first glance, but many of the contenders are either out of form or handicapped to the hilt. For us, the three to concentrate on are the unexposed Celtic Champion (6/1), and the past two winners of this race Strike (8/1) and Mitrosonfire (12/1).
Celtic Champion is potentially ahead of his mark of 87, having beaten a horse who has now risen to a rating of 97, whilst Mitrosonfire is back down to the same rating from which he won the 2021 edition of this. However, those two runners must carry 9st12lb and 9st11b, and nine of the last 10 winners have been shouldered with 9st6lb or less on the day. Strike is three pounds higher than 12 months ago, but he has a nice racing weight of 8st11lb and ran a cracker to only go down by a head at this track last time. He shouldn’t be far away under Rob Hornby.
2:25 Highclere Castle Gin Handicap
Class 3, 5f
Here we have a wide-open heat that sees Four Adaay and Libra Tiger vying for favouritism in most lists at around the 6/1 mark. Of those two, narrow preference would be for the former, who has now dropped to a rating a pound below her career-high winning mark, whilst Libra Tiger is up five pounds for a one-length soft ground success. Harry Brown (7/1) is another interesting contender on his all-weather form, but is none from six on turf, and better value may lie elsewhere.
Katey Kontent (16/1) is an eye-catching contender on last season’s sixth-placed effort in the Queen Mary, but we would like to have seen a little more on her seasonal return. The one to get our each-way vote is the Roger Teal-trained Whenthedealisdone (14/1). Beginning the season on a mark of 97, this son of Dark Angel is now down to 87, and becoming dangerously well handicapped, having won off 90 at Ascot at around this time last year. He has been hit or miss this season but had no chance when trapped at the back last time out at Goodwood and looks worth chancing at a double-figure price.
2:40 William Hill Silver Trophy Handicap
Class 4, 6f
The first of two big handicaps from Ripon sees a near-maximum field go to post – providing a difficult puzzle for punters to unravel. With 10 course and distance wins between them, Fortamour (7/1) and Mark’s Choice (8/1) are the two the market has latched onto here. Neither can be ruled out with confidence given that course form – particularly Fortamour, who has won three times off higher marks here and went down by just a nose over track and trip last time out.
We wouldn’t put anyone off the two at the head of the market, but with many firms offering additional places on the race, we prefer an each-way punt. The one to catch our eye is the Anthony Brittain-trained five-year-old Asadjumeirah (20/1). Ignore his latest effort at Haydock, as he simply hated the heavy ground that day. Before that, he had finished an excellent second in a similar event at York, and is only a pound higher here and fully 13lbs below his career-high winning mark.
3:00 Heart Bingo Summer Sizzler Handicap
Class 2, 7f
There are plenty of likeable sorts on display in the final race from Newbury. Old boys Bless Him (11/1) and Accidental Agent (12/1) are undoubtedly well-handicapped on their old form and have been showing signs of life of late. The latter, in particular, is not to be dismissed lightly, whilst the Godolphin runner, Open Mind, also makes the shortlist, having won a decent event out in Meydan earlier in the season.
However, with eight of the past 10 winners having emerged from a single-figure stall, the draw may have gone against Accidental Agent (11) and Open Minded (10). From those drawn low, the one who appeals as a solid value each way option is the John Flint runner, Lyndon B (16/1). Now two pounds lower than when going down by just a neck over course and distance last September, he has been running well so far this season without quite getting the rub of the green. With a good draw and a strong pace to aim at, he may find things falling right in this event.
3:15 William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap
Class 2, 6f
The likeable nine-year-old Summerghand (6/1) heads the betting for the feature handicap of the day, having run really well to finish fourth off this mark in the Sky Bet Dash last time out. We expect him to go well again, but he is the type of horse who needs everything to fall in his favour and is passed over at a single-figure price. Sophia’s Starlight (12/1) makes the most appeal of the three-year-old contenders, having run a cracker to finish second despite her saddle slipping on her most recent outing.
Twelfth Knight (14/1) is interesting on his first start for Paul Midgley, and the ex-Aidain O’Brien runner King Of Bavaria (25/1) is handicapped to go well on the pick of his form, but the vote goes to Cairn Gorm (16/1) from the yard of Kevin Philippart De Foy. A Group 3 winner over this trip as a two-year-old – reaching a rating of 103 – he had gone off the boil but bounced back to form when landing a 16-runner affair at York last time out. He’s up four pounds for that, but that still only takes him up to 84, and he’s fancied to at least make the frame.
3:35 BetVictor Hungerford Stakes
Group 2, 7f
The closing Group class event has been thrown wide open following the late withdrawal of red-hot favourite Sacred. Chindit (11/4) now heads the betting and could be the one to beat if repeating his runner-up effort in the Lockinge Stakes. However, he wasn’t so good last time out at Ascot and was beaten over four lengths in this race last year. Defending champion Jumby (4/1) is another obvious contender, but prefers rattling quick ground, which seems unlikely here, while third favourite Pogo (6/1) could manage only fifth twelve months ago.
Overall, this looks ripe for an upset, and hopefully, the horse to provide it will be Richard Hannon’s Mammas Girl (16/1). Nothing went right for her in the English or Irish 1,000 Guineas, but the fact she was aimed so high suggests she shows plenty at home. Significantly, the daughter of Havana Grey is also a perfect two from two over this seven-furlong trip, and suggested she may be coming back to form when running on late over six furlongs last time out. The fillies’ and mares’ allowance brings her right into the mix on ratings, and making just her sixth career start, there may well be more to come.