One of the biggest days of the late domestic flat season lights up the ITV coverage this coming Saturday as the crew heads to Newmarket for Day 2 of the Future Champions Meeting. The historic Cesarewitch handicap will generate much of the betting interest, whilst the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes for the juveniles sees a host of potential 2024 Classic contenders lock horns.
A trio of Group 3 contests make up the quality undercard at HQ, whilst York chips in with four competitive events to create a cracking afternoon’s entertainment for armchair racing fans. Here, we run through each of the nine races on offer in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:15 Coral Rockingham Stakes
The juveniles kick off the action in a wide-open affair. Andrew Balding’s Purosangue (7/2) has been knocking on the door of late, having finished second in each of his last three outings. His second to Big Evs in the Molecomb Stakes reads well in the context of this Listed event, and he shouldn’t be far away.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Starlore (5/1) is another interesting contender as he drops down in trip, whilst Bondy (12/1) took a big step forward at Pontefract and is the most interesting of those available at a double-figure price. However, the one we like best is the Ralph Beckett runner, Serried Ranks (9/2).
Two from three in his career to date, each of those wins has come on good to soft or worse going, suggesting the forecast rain will be in his favour. We were impressed by the manner in which he powered home to score at Goodwood last time out, with the runner-up Starlore doing his bit for the form when fifth in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes.
1:25 Emirates Autumn Stakes
Group 3, 1m
It is no surprise to see Ancient Wisdom (2/1) head the betting in this contest, with his trainer Charlie Appleby seeking a fourth successive win in the race. Typically regally bred, the pick of his three efforts to date came when third to Rosallion in the Pat Eddery Stakes. On the downside, he didn’t appear to be crying out for this step up in trip that day and looks short enough to us.
Ambiente Friendly (11/1), Orne (15/2), and Per Contra (10/1) all arrive on the back of a win, but all are taking a steep rise in grade. As far as we see it, therefore, the one to be on is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Chief Little Rock (4/1). By Galileo and out of a mare in Amicus, who was a Group 1 winner at this distance, he hit the line strongly when second in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes last time out. A repeat of that effort should see him go close with Ryan Moore in the saddle.
2:00 Native Trail’s Dewhurst Stakes
Group 1, 7f
We have one of the hottest juvenile events of the season up next, with Chaldean, Native Trail, St. Mark’s Basilica, and Pinatubo all featuring on the recent roll of honour. For those seeking a future star, this is invariably one of the most informative events of the year.
The Charles Hills-trained Iberian (4/1) leads the charge for the home team, having landed the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last time out. Quite how strong that form is remains to be seen, and he had previously finished behind the reopposing Haatem, who is the 50/1 outsider of the field here.
Eve Johnston Houghton’s Indian Run (20/1) looks a little overpriced, having landed a Group 3 with something up his sleeve last time out, but this looks all about the favourite. Of the juvenile stars to roll off the Ballydoyle production line this season, City Of Troy (4/7) has looked just about the best of the bunch. High praise, but well earned by this son of Justify, who blew the field away in a 6½l romp in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. That effort strongly suggested he was a Group 1 winner in waiting, and he is expected to prove it here.
2:25 Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap
Class 2, 6f
Fully 22 go to post in the first of the big field handicap affairs, with Ayr Gold Cup winner Significantly (11/2) currently topping the market. He’s up 4lb for that narrow success, but given his late running style, he may have more in the locker. There’s plenty to like about his chances of following up, but we are just put off by the fact that his only previous outing at this track saw him finish 19th of 22 in a similar event last August.
Kevin Ryan has won two of the past six editions of this, making his down-in-trip Chuzzlewit (28/1) of each way interest at a cracking price, with the frenetic pace likely to suit. However, all in all, the one to carry our cash is the back-to-form five-year-old, Albasheer (13/2).
His most recent effort at this track saw him fly home late to grab a dead heat in August, and he has run well in two starts since. He was not beaten far when unlucky in running in Ireland and then impressed when finishing fourth in the Ayr Gold Cup despite missing the break. He gets a 4lb pull in the weights with Significantly for that effort and remains 12lbs below his career high rating. With Hollie Doyle in the saddle, he’s fancied to get on top late.
2:40 Club Godolphin Cesarewitch Handicap
Class 2, 2m2f
The major handicap of the day comes in the second leg of the Autumn Double as a bumper 34-runner field does battle over this marathon trip. National Hunt yards have an excellent record in this, and the Gordon Elliott-trained Pied Piper (9/2) heads the betting this time. A Grade 2 winner over hurdles, with Ryan Moore booked to ride, it’s easy to see why punters have latched onto this one. However, he was beaten into sixth off this mark on his most recent start in a flat handicap, which is enough to put us off at that price.
Vino Victrix (10/1) makes the shortlist, having finished third in this race from a 2lb higher mark in 2022, as does Grand Providence (10/1), who won the Cesarewitch Trial in good style in September. Both can go well, but the one to carry our each-way money is the Emmett Mullins runner, The Shunter (10/1).
The winner of the Paddy Power Plate at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2021, he ran a cracker to finish fourth in a competitive flat handicap at Naas at around this time last year, when only really getting going at the end of that 2m trip. Catching the eye when staying on into sixth over an inadequate 1m4½f at Gowran Park last time out, this step up in distance could prove ideal.
3:05 Coral Racing Club EBF Maiden Stakes
Class 2, 1m
We have some Maiden action up next, with the Charlie Johnston runner Align The Stars boasting the best form of those with a run under their belts, having filled the runners-up spot in his two previous visits to the track. Whilst that form is decent, it doesn’t set an impossible standard for the others to aim at, and we suspect the winner may emerge from one of the four debutants in the field.
Being by Belardo, Hugo Palmer’s Wonder Kid (8/1) should appreciate any rain in the area and looks like a decent each-way option, but preference is for Assailant (5/2) from the John & Thady Gosden operation. By Dubawi, this one fetched 900,000 Guineas at the sales and is a half-brother to Gloria Mindi, who scored on debut for the Gosdens in 2021. The fact that he has come in for support is a further positive, and it would be no surprise should he prove up to the task.
3:15 Ghaiyyath Zetland Stakes
Group 3, 1m2f
Just the five go to post in this event for the juveniles, with all of them arriving having won last time out. Charlie Appleby has taken the past two editions of this and boasts a likely sort once again in the shape of the hattrick-seeking Arabian Crown (6/5). A good winner in a 1m Listed company last time out, he’s up slightly in class and trip but shouldn’t be far away.
Andrew Balding’s Dambuster (5/1) showed an admirable attitude when scoring on debut and should also go well, but we fancy the one to beat is the Ballydoyle raider, Gasper De Lemos (3/1). This son of Justify looked all at sea when fourth on debut but stepped up on that to land his maiden last time out – despite still running green at times. Looking to hit the line with plenty left in the tank, he has stamina on both sides of his pedigree and can tough this out best in the closing stages.
3:35 Coral Racing Bet Bundles Handicap
Class 2, 1m2½f
Believe In Stars (3/1) and La Yakel (7/2) from the powerful Sir Michael Stoute and William Haggas operations dominate the betting for this handicap affair. Making his handicap debut, the former may prove better than a mark of 94 but will be facing vastly different ground than anything he has encountered to date. La Yakel looks solid, having scored on soft last time out at Doncaster, and should go well from this 4lb higher mark.
Overall, we favour an each-way punt in this one, and the runner to catch the eye is the Julie Camacho-trained Titian (8/1). A course and distance winner off a mark of 83 in October 2022, he looks reasonably handicapped off 85 here and is a perfect two from two over this trip on good to soft or worse going. With conditions in his favour, he can at least hit the frame.
3:50 Earthlight Darley Stakes
Group 3, 1m1f
A decent case can be made for a whole host of runners in the finale. Spirit Dancer (15/2) arrives in the form of his life for Richard Fahey and can go well under Oisin Orr, but carrying a penalty in such a competitive event may prove his undoing. Knight (7/2) and course and distance winner Real Gain (8/1) look like the pick of the three-year-olds, whilst Roger Varian’s Padoshakh (16/1) makes the most appeal of those available at a double-figure price.
However, the classiest runner in the field to our eyes is the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Dubai Future. The Godolphin handler does well with his older handicappers returning from a break, and this son of Dubawi was last sighted finishing second to Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and Juddmonte International winner Mostahdaf out in Dubai. Anything close to a repeat of that effort should be enough to see him involved in the finish and at 13/2 he appears to offer very decent value and the potential for a cracking end to the day.