Some of the leading trainers might be moaning about the fixture congestion this Saturday, but with top-notch action from premier tracks - Ascot, Newmarket and York then it's certainly a weekend for the punter - Andy Newton takes you through the live C4 races.......
Saturday C4 TV Races
Ascot (C4 & ATR)
3.45 - TOTESPORT.COM SUMMER MILE STAKES (GROUP 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) Winner Â£56,710 1m: Only 6 runners for this popular Group 2, but with Dick Turpin and Cityscape renewing rivalry again then thereâ€™s plenty to get excited about. Hannonâ€™s Dick Turpin bids to bounce back after his poor showing in the Lockinge and then in France last time, but this return to a mile will suit and heâ€™s already beaten Cityscape 2 Â¼ lengths this season when taking the Bet365 Mile at Sandown in April. On official ratings Turpin has 3lbs in hand but thatâ€™s offset by his Group 2 penalty and, therefore, there shouldnâ€™t be a cigarette paper between them.
In terms of ground, which is likely to be on the soft side both of the principles have form with give underfoot, so there should be no real excuses on that front, but I was really taken by the way Roger Charltonâ€™s CITYSCAPE briefly scared Canford Cliffs and Goldikova last time here in the Queen Anne and with the stable in red-hot form at present Iâ€™ll take him to break his Group Two duck.
Danger: Dick Turpin
Newmarket (C4 & RUK)
2.20 - 32RED.COM SUPERLATIVE STAKES (GROUP 2) (CLASS 1) (2yo) Winner Â£34,026 7f: Trainer Richard Hannon has landed this race three times in the last 10 years and he runs two â€“ Chandlery and FORT BASTION â€“ with the last-named looking his best chance after his recent second in the Chesham Stakes over this trip.
In terms of the trends, only 2 favourites have gone won in the last 10 years, but eight did return 8/1 or less suggesting itâ€™s still those at the top end of the market that are the ones to concentrate on.
Ralph Beckett has his horses in cracking form and, therefore, his Pearl Mix, who is making his debut on the turf after two runs (1 win) on Kemptonâ€™s all weather track, is one for the shortlist, while I fully expect the Godolphin 2 year-olds to start firing very soon and they run Commissar.
Danger: Pearl Mix
2.55 - 32RED BUNBURY CUP (HANDICAP) (CLASS 2) (3yo+) Winner Â£31,125 7f: Three winning favourites in the last 10 years is not a bad record considering the ultra-competitive nature of this race, so bear that in mind, but 7 of the last 10 did return a double-figure price. In terms on the best age to look out for then the 4 year-olds have the best record, winning 50% of the last 10, including three of the last 4.
Richard Hannon took this 2 years ago and he runs two â€“ King of Jazz and Angelâ€™s Pursuit â€“ but the one I think will run a big race is Brian Meehanâ€™s MANASSAS. The in-from yard have booked Frankie Dettori which is the first plus, and after an excellent win in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting heâ€™s clearly suited by these big field handicaps. Yes, a 6lb rise will make life harder, but that win was also in soft ground and I think he can defy the rise in the ratings and run a big race.
Danger: King of Jazz
3.35 DARLEY JULY CUP (BRITISH CHAMPIONSÂ´ SERIES AND GLOBAL SPRINT CHALLENGE) (GROUP 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) Winner Â£226,840 6f: It will be a bit of a surprise if Aidan Oâ€™Brien can follow-up last yearâ€™s win with Oracle, but the first trend to note here is that this race tends to go to a younger horse. All of the last 10 renewals have been won by a horse aged 6 or younger, with 3 or 4 year-olds landing 6 of the last 10. Godolphin and Frankie, who are both yet to win this race, team up with Delegator, but a lot hinges on the ground and although Newmarket seems to have missed a lot of the heavy rain should any fall overnight then tread carefully, especially coming from a high draw.
Last yearâ€™s Molecomb Stakes winner, MONSIEUR CHEVALIER looks a fair each-way option based on his return to form when runner-up in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot. On that form he holds plenty of these and should the ground cut up then heâ€™ll not mind that either â€“ Fallon comes in for the ride.
Of the others, the Aussie raider Star Witness should be thereabouts but still needs to prove he stays this far after fading in the closing stages at Ascot to take third when looking all over the winner, but the other Ascot runner that is worthy of a mention is Bated Breath. The Roger Charlton team are in great form and although heâ€™s got a bit to find after coming fifth at Ascot last time heâ€™s still learning the game (just 9 runs) and despite not really wanting any more rain then I think he can go close too.
Danger: Bated Breath
York (C4 & RUK)
2.05 - JOHN SMITHÂ´S CITY WALLS STAKES (LISTED RACE) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) Winner Â£17,760 5f: All 13 that are entered here are previous winners over the minimum trip and with three course and distance winners too then everythingâ€™s in place for a cracking contest. However, on official ratings then old favourite BORDERLESCOTT, who returns to the scene of one of his Nunthorpe wins (other ran at Newmarket), has a bit in hand and after two runs this season should be spot on to run a big race. Heâ€™s also won on a variety of different grounds so thereâ€™s also not a lot to worry about on that front, while his trainer Robin Bastiman was interviewed in the week and he reported his old timer in fantastic order too.
Danger: Hamish McGonagall
2.40 - JOHN SMITHÂ´S SILVER CUP (HANDICAP) (LISTED RACE) (CLASS 1) (3yo+ 0-110) Winner Â£17,760 1m6f: Only five previous runnings to look back on, but with them all being won by either a 3, 4 or 5 year-old then you might be able to knock a few out based on this trend. Mark Johnston took the race back in 2006 and he often does so well in these long distance contests. Heâ€™s got two great chances in Eternal Heart and Royal Ascot winner FOX HUNT and providing he can cope with the step up in trip and class then the last-named can run close as he bids to land a hat-trick.
Of the rest, I think Ralph Beckettâ€™s Vulcanite is worth a mention. Iâ€™ve already said the yard have not been in better form all season and after a reappearance third at Pontefract in a decent affair, in which the fourth (Red Cadeaux) has won since, then he looks ready to run a big race.
3.15 - 52ND JOHN SMITHÂ´S CUP (HERITAGE HANDICAP) (CLASS 2) (3yo+) Winner Â£97,035 1m2f: Always a tricky race to unravel, but being a handicap this helps when trying to apply some key trends to the contest and so we can certainly whittle the field down.
The market leader has a fair record, winning 3 of the last 10, so thatâ€™s good news for Roger Varianâ€™s PEKAN STAR, whoâ€™s not been out since winning over this course and distance back in May. A 10lb rise looks a lot, but heâ€™s had 2 months to improve further and with just three career runs heâ€™s taken to defy the rise and progress into better company.
Other trends to note are that 9 of the last 10 finished in the top 4 last time out, suggesting you need a horse in form, while the draw plays itâ€™s part too with 7 of the last 10 coming from stall 13 or lower. 4 year-olds look the best age group to follow with 60% of the last 10 going that way and finally check the weight your fancy is carrying â€“ 5 of the last 5 had just 8-12, while 6 carried 9-2 or less.
With all that in mind Pekan Star has plenty of these trends in his favour, but the other two that fit plenty of these stats too are DEMOLITION and SARRSAR. The former hails from the Richard Fahey team, who have won this three times in recent years, and Sarrsar runs in the Godolphin blue.
Dangers: Demolition and Sarrsar
3.55 - JOHN SMITHÂ´S RACING STAKES (HANDICAP) (CLASS 3) (3yo+ 0-95) Winner Â£9,704 1m: Yet again another big field handicap to get to the bottom of â€“ so here are some key trends to look out for. Only 2 favourites have won in the last 10 years, but the biggest-priced winner was just 12/1 â€“ quite short considering the competitive nature of the race. In terms of trainers look no further than Richard Fahey and Dandy Nicholls â€“ theyâ€™ve landed the prize four times each between them and run LORD AERYN (Fahey) and MUJAADEL (Nicholls).