There is no shortage of racing entertainment this coming Saturday, with the ITV squad set to provide a bumper 10-race card of action, including a trio of Group 1 affairs. Throw in the opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup and Ukraine vs. England in the football, and there is little incentive for sports fans to stray too far from the sofa this weekend. Here, we run through each of the 10 races on offer in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:35 Unibet September Stakes
Group 3, 1m4f
Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge (5/4) had an alternative engagement in the Irish Champion Stakes and sets the clear standard here. He is, however, priced accordingly and doesn’t make masses of appeal from a betting point of view on what will be his first crack at 1m4f. Sire New Bay stayed the trip well enough, but dam Hayonna was an out-and-out sprinter. Overall, we prefer to look elsewhere in a race with some excellent each-way value on offer.
Israr (3/1) is next best on ratings but is yet to race on a synthetic surface, and a 5lb Group 2 winning penalty may bring him back to the pack. John & Thady Gosden’s Fortino (14/1) is interesting, having won four times at Group 1 level in Chile. However, that form is almost impossible to weigh up, and we favour a small each-way punt on Roger Varian’s Listed class course and distance winner Shandoz (25/1).
This son of Golden Horn has had his issues but is yet to finish outside of the first two in three starts on the All-Weather. Moreover, he should strip fitter for his recent comeback in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, and 25/1 looks very tempting to us.
1:50 Best Odds On The Betfair Exchange Superior Mile Stakes
Group 3, 1m
David Simcock’s Light Infantry (15/8) boasts strong form claims here, having finished in the frame in Group 1 company in each of his last three starts. Those efforts entitle him to at least go close to winning this, but in 11 career starts, he is yet to race on anything quicker than good ground and may be tapped for toe close home. Chindit (9/2) is another for the shortlist, having finished a gallant second in the Lockinge over this course and distance, but has been well below par in two subsequent outings, including at this track last time out.
This went the way of the three-year-olds last season, and we fancy that may again be the case this time around, with the Harry Eustace-trained Zoology (9/2) the one to catch our eye. He is 6lbs adrift of Light Infantry on ratings, almost all of that is wiped out by his 5lb weight for age allowance, and he has more scope for improvement than the market leader. Last sighted flying home for second in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes, he gets an extra furlong to play with here and can go one better.
2:10 Unibet London Mile Series Final Handicap
Class 2, 1m
The final of this excellent series for the milers looks to be a hugely competitive affair. William Haggas’s unexposed three-year-old Kathab (4/1) has been the one to attract support in the lead-up to the race, and it’s easy to see why punters are attracted to this son of Kingman.
A winner of two of his past three starts, he may be well handicapped off a mark of 91 but does need to show that he handles the all-weather. Defending champion First Review is an obvious contender, getting in off 2lbs lower than 12 months ago, but we just prefer another in the line-up.
Last time out, First Review finished ¾l clear of Two Tempting when receiving 1lb from that rival. On his most recent start, Rhythm N Rock (12/1) finished a neck adrift of Two Tempting when conceding 9lbs. On that form – and the respective times of the races – the John Butler runner shouldn’t be double the price of First Review and looks a very solid value each way play.
2:25 Get Daily Rewards With Betfair Handicap
Class 2, 1m6f
The William Haggas-trained Naqeeb (5/2) is an intriguing contender in this event for the stayers as he steps up in trip on handicap debut. As a half-brother to Baeed and Hukum, he appeals on paper and boasts solid form in the book, having lost out by just a nose to St. Leger hopeful Middle Earth two starts back. It would be no surprise to see him come out on top, but he will be facing the quickest ground he has encountered to date, and we narrowly prefer the horse just behind him in the market.
Aidan O’Brien’s Denmark (5/2) holds the reopposing Lordship, Davideo, The Goat, and Edge of Darkness on their clash over this trip in the Melrose Stakes. The son of Camelot also finished second to Middle Earth that day, but was slightly disadvantaged by racing away from the main action and looked to hit the line powerfully. A proven ability at the distance and liking for good to firm ground earns him the vote.
2:35 bet365 Handicap
Class 2, 7f
Plenty have their chance in this typically hot Ascot handicap. Hickory (6/1) heads the betting on the back of a narrow second over course and distance last time out. He’s up 2lbs for that, but should go well for Saffie Osbourne. The prolific Quinault (13/2) saw his six-race winning streak end here in August but is another for the shortlist as he steps back up in trip, whilst Star Of Orion (10/1) rarely runs a bad race around here.
The one we like best at a double-figure price is the hat-trick seeking Love De Vega (10/1) from the yard of Charlie Johnston. He’s up 6lb for his most recent success at Musselburgh, but that still only takes him up to 86 – a mark from which he finished a ¾l second over this course and distance at around this time last year. Burdened with 9st10lb that day, he has a more attractive racing weight of 8st11lb here and can go close under David Probert.
2:45 Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes
Group 1, 1m
We head to Ireland for the first of the day’s Group 1 affairs in this 1m clash between the Classic generation and their older rivals. Dermot Weld’s Homeless Songs (8/1) is the top-rated runner in the field and seems likely to be involved in the finish if returning to the form of last season’s Irish 1000 Guineas success. She hasn’t been anything like so good since though, and looks a little risky. The hat-trick-seeking Zarinsk (9/1) and Aidan O’Brien’s Meditate (11/1) are others to note, but this looks all about the favourite.
Tahiyra (10/11) is only 1lb behind stablemate Homeless Songs, according to the handicapper, but receives a 5lb age allowance here. The daughter of Siyouni also brings comfortably the best recent form into the race. Only going down by ½l to Maw in the 1000 Guineas, she soon made amends by landing back-to-back wins in the Group 1 duo of the Irish 1000 and Coronation Stakes. If running up to a similar standard, she will likely prove very tough to deny.
3:00 Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup Handicap
Class 2, 1m6f
Forza Orta (15/2) and Aztec Empire (9/2) were separated by just a neck last time out at York and likely won’t be far away once again. At 1lb better off at the weights and having endured a troubled passage that day, the market suggests that Aztec Empire may turn the tables, but Forza Orta hit the line well and may have more to come. Mr Curiosity (14/1) and Get Shirty (14/1) are both becoming well-handicapped, but we prefer the claims of another runner heading here from York.
David Menusier’s Caius Chorister (5/1) looked most unlucky to finish no closer than sixth in the Ebor. Seemingly full of running at the 1f pole, she found herself trapped behind a wall of horses with nowhere to go as the leaders kicked clear. She finished to solid effect once in the clear, but by that stage her chance had gone. The plus side of that misfortune is that she gets in here off an unchanged mark in what looks like a significantly softer race. Granted a better rub of the green, she looks the one to be on.
3:10 Lavazza Stakes
Class 2, 1m4f
The class-dropping Victory Dance (4/1) heads both the weights and the betting in the final handicap of the day, following a solid fourth in Listed company last time out. His overall form reads well, but he steps up to 1m4f for the first time, which doesn’t seem certain to suit. Similar comments apply to second favourite Alsakib, who did well to finish third on unsuitably soft ground at Goodwood but also steps into the unknown regarding the distance.
We prefer an each-way punt, and the horse to carry our cash is the Sir Mark Prescott-trained, True Legend. This one gave himself little chance of seeing out 1m6f when vying for the lead in his most recent start but boasts career form figures of 15112 at around this trip. He’s 4lbs higher than when second at Goodwood two starts back, but looked hugely unlucky that day and can at least hit the frame.
3:20 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes
Group 1, 1m2f
As is always the case, a high-class field has assembled for one of Leopardstown’s signature events. However, many of these have questions to answer. Auguste Rodin (7/2) headed into the season as the next big thing but has now turned into racing’s ultimate Jekyll and Hyde – bookending wins in the English and Irish Derby with woeful displays in the 2000 Guineas and King George.
He might win, but he could just as easily be tailed off. Stablemate Luxembourg (11/1) arrives as the defending champion but hasn’t been anywhere near his best this season. King Of Steel (7/2) is at least consistent, but was behind Auguste Rodin at Epsom and runs over this trip for the first time in his career.
John Gosden’s Nashwa (11/2) is tempting on the back of her excellent second in the Juddmonte International, whilst last year’s runner-up Onesto (7/1) can go well once again. However, this has fallen to a three-year-old six times in the past nine years, and with doubts about the other contenders from that age group, the one for us is Joseph O’Brien’s Al Riffa (8/1).
Sire Wootton Bassett struck in this race with Almanzor in 2016, and he can do so again with this Group 1-winning juvenile. Raced only twice this season, he ran a stormer to go down by under a length to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-favourite Ace Impact last time out. A repeat of that display should see the mount of Christophe Soumillon in the mix.
3:38 Betfair Sprint Cup Stakes
Group 1, 6f
A maximum field of 17 goes to the post in the closing Group 1 sprint from Haydock, but despite that large number of runners, we still have one of the shortest-priced favourites of the day. The Julie Camacho-trained Shaquille, priced at evens with most firms, has been a sensation this season and heads here seeking a seventh win on the spin.
Still managing to win despite missing the break in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, he repeated the trick to run out an equally emphatic winner of the July Cup at Newmarket. A perfect two from two on good to firm ground and six from six over the distance, it’s hard to spot many chinks in his armour.
Others in with a shout include Sacred (12/1) and Khaadem (28/1), who were separated by a neck in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, and Saint Lawrence (14/1), who ran a cracker to finish second in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. All make some each-way appeal, but we will be sticking with the jolly, who has proven too fast for everything else so far this season and can do so once again to help favourite-fanciers out and provide a nice end to the day’s punting.