Previews, tips and trends for major horse racing fixtures across the UK. Detailed day-by-day reports and info on horses, races, courses, events and more.

London Racing Club Arc Weekend Preview Notes

I headed west on the subterranean rattler last evening for a gathering of the London Racing Club at the Kensington Forum, Gloucester Road. There, a panel hosted by Racing Post's Sam Lawrie and comprising of Adrian Beaumont (International Racing Bureau), Nick Smith (Director of Racing, Ascot), and Nicola McGeady (Ladbrokes PR), offered thoughts and comments on the racing at Chantilly this weekend as well as events further into the future at Ascot and in Melbourne.

All were somewhat hamstrung by having to project without knowing which horses will actually run (deadline for Sunday declarations is today), so do keep that in mind in the light (my fault, not the panel's) but interesting (the panel's fault, not mine) notes which follow.

Saturday Arc Weekend Thoughts

Prix du Cadran

NM: In the absence of Big Orange, this looks a home banker for Vazirabad. He's 8/13 in places now, but could be closer to 1/3 by the weekend. If shorties are your thing, there's plenty of value in his price.

Prix Dollar

AB: Robin Of Navan is nap material. He's a Chantilly specialist who was beaten only four lengths by Ribchester last time. That form is good enough to win this. Ten furlongs, the Dollar range, is his trip.

Prix Daniel Wildenstein

AB: Taareef may be 4/6 but he looks a good thing. He's beaten all the decent horses in France this year barring a sub-par effort in the Jacques le Marois.

Prix de Royallieu

AB: Off a long time prior to a solid prep in a Group 2 in August, The Juliet Rose can make a bold bid to follow up on last year's win in the race.


Sunday Arc Weekend Thoughts

Prix Marcel Boussac

NS: The Aidan O'Brien choice in the race will be of obvious interest. That could be September, and she'd have a definite chance.

NM: Polydream will be favourite for the French, regardless of what AOB runs. She is unbeaten in two and looks tough to beat on her Calvados win.

Prix Jean Luc Lagardere

SL: Scott Burton (RP's French correspondent) likes Olmedo a lot. He's 7/1.

AB: Olmedo ran well on soft ground when just failing to reel in Charlie Appleby's Stage Magic last time. Looks a value price, may go off favourite on PMU. Also, if he runs here, Beckford has really good form in the book and 10/1 offers e/w appeal.

NS: Masar has an obvious chance after a clear cut win in the Solario Stakes last time.

NM: Ladbrokes' traders also like Masar and want to keep it onside.

Prix de l'Opera

NS: AOB was very open about Winter being under-cooked ahead of the Matron Stakes last time, and they were really pleased with how she ran there. She may as well go for the Arc, but if running here she'd have a mighty chance. If she does go to the Arc, Hydrangea becomes of interest. She's been thereabouts in G1's all season and deserved her Matron Stakes success last time.

NM: Onthemoonagain is a sporting each way suggestion at around 14/1. She's been steadily improving since falling in the French Oaks and might surprise.

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AB: The German filly, Lacazar, is under-rated at a general 12/1. Trained by Peter Schiergen, she's won her last four, including a hands and heels win in the German Oaks, where Wuheida was five lengths back in third. She loves the mud, so if the rain does come, she's a solid chance.

Prix de l'Abbaye

NM: Much talk of this being between the two British runners, but Signs Of Blessing has home advantage, loves soft ground and looks value against the top of the market.

NS: Battaash is better than Marsha, but he's also more quirky. Signs Of Blessing has had this as his target whereas the others have kind of 'fallen in' here. Would personally have him as favourite.

AB: Ignore Signs Of Blessing form outside of France. He's a notoriously poor traveller, and has a great chance in this. Surprised he's not favourite. The Prix de Saint-Georges form from earlier in the season (SoB won) is probably the standout piece of form in the race. There he gave Profitable 11lb and a beating.

Prix de la Foret

NM: Aclaim is 4/1 and was taking at Doncaster and was taking at Doncaster when he won the Group 2 Park Stakes. He comes here fresh and goes on any ground so ought to be a player. There has been money for Karar and he's into 8/1.

AB: Inns Of Court, trained by Andre Fabre, is progressive. Only three, he won a G3 in July, and was a short head second in the Jacques Le Marois before disappointing a little in the Prix du Moulin. Just about top on ratings and 7/1 is a nice price about his chance.


Arc Weekend Best Bets

NS: Signs Of Blessing 11/2 Coral

NM: Signs Of Blessing 11/2 Coral

AB: Inns Of Court 7/1 general

Thanks a million to the panel for their time, and of course, to Kate and all of the team at London Racing Club, who always put on a great show.


p.s. Take a gander at this if you're looking for an Arc preview.

Marsha seeks Chantilly Double Delight

Several have managed it, the last being Lochsong in 1993 and 94. And on Sunday, Marsha will be the latest to attempt back-to-back victories in the Prix de l’Abbaye.

Texanita, ridden by the celebrated Yves Saint-Martin, was the first to achieve the feat in the mid-1960s. Trained by the outstanding Francois Mathet at his yard in Chantilly, the handler was to become the most successful in the prestigious sprint’s history, with eight victories recorded in less than two decades.

Gentilhombre matched the achievement for his Leicestershire trainer Neil Adam in the mid-70s. Brilliant at three, the horse was even better at four. He improved as the season progressed, ultimately winning the July Cup, the Diadem Stakes at Ascot and then taking his second Abbaye in a course record time.

Dermot Weld was next to train a back-to-back winner. Committed was a powerful mare, who at three began to dominate in her own country of Ireland. A year later Weld unleashed her throughout Europe, and was rewarded with success at York in the Nunthorpe and then at Longchamp in the Prix de l’Abbaye. She repeated the trick in France a year later, before heading over the Atlantic on a brief foray to America. She was later to become a successful broodmare in the United States.

Though hugely talented, Committed’s achievements were comfortably surpassed by the mighty Lochsong, who dominated sprinting in the early to mid-1990s. Trained by Ian Balding, she was a huge filly who simply bullied her opponents into submission. During a barn-storming period in 1993-94, she captured every sprint worth winning, including the l‘Abbaye twice.

And now is the turn of Marsha, as she attempts to add her name to the illustrious and select list of dual-winners. Since last year’s thrilling success, Sir Mark Prescott’s talented speedster has won two of her five starts, with last month’s victory in the Nunthorpe arguably a career best display. She got up in the dying strides to defeat another outstanding filly in Lady Aurelia, and on the back of that performance is understandably a short-priced favourite for Sunday’s Chantilly renewal.

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Battaash was something of a disappointment at York, having previously kicked Marsha aside in the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood. That victory came in testing conditions, though he’d proved himself just as swift when hammering a decent field in the Coral Charge at Sandown. The Charlie Hills trained three-year-old is currently second favourite, and I’m finding it tough to split the pair.

The race has been dominated by Brits in recent times, winning six of the last eight. The trend is likely to continue if the markets are to be believed. Signs Of Blessing appears best of the French, though the six-year-old has often come-up a little short at this level. If sprints were run at five and a half furlongs, I fancy he’d be as good as any. Unfortunately, he seems to lack the speed for five and often the stamina for six. Another frustrating performance may well lie ahead.

Don’t be surprised to see Finsbury Square go close at a decent price. He may well prove the best of the home team, as he often enjoys a trip to Chantilly. He’s won four times at the track and is yet to finish outside the top four, including when a very close fourth in last year’s renewal. Find a bookie that pays each-way the first four, and it could be your lucky day.

But it’s the Brits that I fancy will be celebrating yet another Prix de l’Abbaye success on Sunday afternoon, as Marsha looks to make history, with Battaash a possible party-pooper. With luck in running, the pair may well fight out a thrilling finish.

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2017 Preview: Trends, Tips

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2017 Preview: Trends, Tips

Widely held to be the best middle distance race in the world, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe brings together global formlines in a thrilling clash of continents, generations and sexes. The race revolves around Enable, a filly not yet even entered, though virtually certain to be supplemented later in the week.

There are a few strong pointers to the average Arc winner, though this year's renewal could comprise a below average field and an above average favourite. Time will tell, but first some patterns...


2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Trends

Arc de Triomphe: Weight and gender

A Group 1 run over a mile and a half and bringing together three-year-olds against older horses, girls against boys, means there are a weight-for-age and weight-for-gender concessions. Specifically, males aged four and up will carry 9-05, fillies aged four and up will carry 9-02, three-year old colts lug 8-13 and three-year-old fillies bear the least lead, just 8-09.

Since unbeaten Zarkava, a three-year-old filly, won the 2008 Arc, just three winners have been male. All three were three-year-olds, and all three were Derby winners: Sea The Stars, Workforce and Golden Horn. The other six winners, then, were female, split evenly between three- and four-year-olds.

To be clear, fillies and mares account for two-thirds of the winners since 2008, from just one quarter of the runners.

The last older colt to win the Arc was Dylan Thomas in 2007 and before that, Marienbard, a five-year-old, in 2002.

Key Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Prep Races

This year, the Derby winner, Wings Of Eagles, has been retired, and his closest pursuer at Epsom, and winner of the Prix Niel, a key prep, Cracksman, has declined his invitation. The pick of the British and Irish three-year-old colts looks to be Capri, winner of both the Irish Derby and St Leger.

Another interesting snippet concerns Aidan O'Brien. The man chasing a global record for the most Group 1 wins in a season has only won the Arc once since 2007. That barren decade was blitzkrieged with a remarkable 1-2-3 in the race last year, as the redoubtable Found led home stablemates Highland Reel and Order Of St George. Though Found has now been retired, there is a strong prospect of the other pair of podium finishers re-engaging this term. Found herself was having a second swipe at the race, having been parked in a traffic jam the year before.

Treve, the 2013 and 2014 winner, was also - obviously - a repeat winner. That may add fuel to the fires of those who like the chance of the O'Brien olders.

Key trials for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe have been the Derby - you know, the Derby, run at Epsom - as mentioned, and also the Prix Niel (no Arc winner since Rail Link in 2006, but plenty before then), and the Grand Prix de Paris (no winner since Rail Link). The Prix de Diane meanwhile advertised the claims of both Zarkava and Treve, a pair of exceptional fillies.

Arc Betting Market Pointers

Enable is expected to be sent off an odds-on chance in this year's Arc, and justifiably so on the balance of her form in comparison to that of her rivals.

Last year, Postponed, an older male giving weight all round, was unplaced as the 15/8 favourite in a race where no three-year-old managed better than eighth. In 2015, Treve, seeking an unprecedented Arc hat-trick could finish only (a very gallant) fourth at even money as a five-year-old mare. As a three- and four-year-old filly, she had prevailed though was favoured on neither occasion, with the UK bookies at any rate. That honour went to the kinky (not in a good way, remember this?) Orfevre in 2013 and to a John Gosden three-year-old filly, Taghrooda, in 2014.

Taghrooda had a similar profile to this year's jolly, Enable, up to a point: that point being the Yorkshire Oaks, which Enable won by five lengths but in which Taghrooda was unmasked at odds of one-to-five. Ouch.

In 2012, Camelot carried the most money, and was defeated at 2/1 industry SP. Sarafina was sunk as market leader in 2011, and Behkabad likewise in 2010. Thus, we have to go all the way back to 2009 and the peerless Sea The Stars for the last winning favourite, at industry SP at least. STS was sent off a 4/6 chance, similar odds to those I expect for Enable this term. And, as this video shows, I was lucky enough to be there to witness it. Great days...

Using betting patterns as a 'trend' is always a dangerous game, but it is fair to say that the race is usually deeper than the market credits it for. Against that, the strongest two favourites since 2008 - Zarkava and Sea The Stars - both won. With average winning odds in the last six years of 13/1 there is at least hope for those not on Enable at fancy prices.


2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Form Preview

Enable, trained by John Gosden, has been unbeaten in five since stepped up to the Arc distance of a mile and a half, a sequence which includes four Group 1's in a row. The aggregate winning distance in those races has been 20 lengths, each being won by five lengths, give or take a half. She's won on the road, in the Irish Oaks; and she's beaten the boys, in the King George; and she's beaten her elders, in both the King George and the Yorkshire Oaks.

She is an exceptional filly, and the best middle distance turf horse of her age group. So it seems hardly fair on the rest that she'll receive weight from the entire field unless Winter lines up here rather than in the Prix de l'Opera.

The going is currently soft but, with a dry week forecast, my best guess will be that the track will ride just on the easy side of good: perfect conditions for Enable. In truth, it is very hard to find chinks in her armour. Collateral form lines give her lengths to spare over her field; the clock says she's superior; and, she actually gets weight from her rivals when she'd be giving it in a handicap.

The track should be fine: it's right-handed with a relatively short run in, similar to Ascot, where she put five lengths into her field from the top of the straight.

She still has the game of Russian roulette that is the draw, assuming a big field show up, with which to contend. But even there, last year's Ballydoyle clean sweep emerged from 12, 11 and 16 respectively. Chantilly ain't no Longchamp in that regard. In any case, with twenty still engaged, and Aidan O'Brien unlikely to run more than four of his seven, it shouldn't be an enormous field.

No, a car park draw for Gosden's filly would make it mildly more interesting, but it probably won't change the result.

Scampering around for value in this year's Arc is a difficult game. Second choice after Cracksman's defection was confirmed is Sir Michael Stoute's Ulysses. This impeccably-bred four-year-old (by Galileo out of Oaks winner, Light Shift) has matured into a genuine Group 1 horse, something which cannot comfortably be said for most of the likely field on Sunday.

But he was on vapours at the end of the King George and, in spite of his stout pedigree, he looks a short runner to me at the Arc distance (form at 1m4f: 0142; form at shorter: 62121311). He's far more likely to get away with the trip in a race like the Breeders' Cup Turf, which is often falsely run. That's unlikely to happen with Ballydoyle peppering the Arc pot with pacemakers and Leger winners.

Pick of the home defence could be Brametot. He was as short as 6/1 before that lamentable prep effort in a Deauville Group 2. He's by an unfashionable stallion, Rajsaman, who never raced beyond a mile and a quarter; and Brametot himself has yet to go beyond the ten and a half furlongs he covered when winning the Prix du Jockey Club.

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A back injury was cited for the poor last day effort and Jean-Claude Rouget's colt is reportedly working well ahead of his Arc tilt. It's possible he'll shorten further on the PMU, but he has enough to prove at a current top quote of 12/1.

It is perhaps a measure of the shallow nature of the race that Order Of St George is co-third favourite. The five-year-old, who will give ten pounds to Enable, has yet to race over shorter than 1m6f in six starts since that game effort in last year's Arc. He's been beaten in three of them, odds on each time.

On the plus side, he went into last year's Arc with a similar long-distance prep profile. Despite a wide draw, expertly mitigated by Frankie Dettori, and a little trouble in the straight, he was ultimately outpaced by Found and Highland Reel.

The latter re-opposes, tripping the light fantastic as he does at seemingly every top table tango. He's a six-time Group 1 winner, never in Ireland oddly, and has triumphed in two of his last three starts, both at G1 level. The ground is the key to him: were it to dry out to good, he'd have a solid place chance; on softer than that, not so much. Let's contextualise that with some numbers.

G1 form on good or quicker: 513141221211

G1 form on softer than good: 62582774

It might dry out enough for him, and he comes here fresh ahead of an autumn globe-trotting tilt at the Breeders' Cup, Hong Kong Vase and then perhaps Dubai. Bizarrely, this horse has his knockers. He's an absolute superstar who has deposited over six million - count them, six million - quids in the bank for his cash-strapped owners.

Capri is more compelling than many. He was the default winner of the Irish Derby after Wings Of Eagles' injury, and was good enough to beat Cracksman that day, the latter having been second favourite before absenting from the Chantilly field. Capri has since won the St Leger, meaning he comes here off the back of two Classic wins. If Team Ballydoyle decide to run him, and he's over his Doncaster exertions, his form puts him in the frame.

Finding a dark horse for the Arc - a dArc horse, perhaps - is tricky. The key probably lies in under-rated form lines, and that normally means in the German form book. There are two in the mix to fly the flag(ship uber alles), Dschingis Secret and Iquitos. The former sprung to prominence when winning the Prix Foy, a lesser prep for older horses on Niel / Vermeilles day.

He's been quietly progressive this season, taking down the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin in the middle of a current unbeaten run of three. There he beat Hawkbill, who is a G1 place player on his day. But that's not Arc-winning form and odds of 14/1 are not tempting.

How about a 66/1 poke then? I don't even know if Iquitos - hopefully not pronounced "I quit 'oss" - is a certain starter, but in a race which looks open 'underneath', he is a dual Group 1 winner. That includes the Grosser Preis von Baden, a race which both Marienbard and Danedream won prior to scoring in the Arc itself.

Iquitos is five now, and was only second in the GPvB this year - having won it last year. But his run style leaves him a hostage to fortune in small fields: specifically he's a hold up horse who couldn't reel in the easy leader, Guignol, in his bid to double up at Baden Baden the last day. Prior to that he'd quickened smartly over a mile and a quarter in a bigger field where they went a beat faster, and comfortably saw off the Godolphin colt, Best Solution.

That form is not good enough to beat Enable - which horse in this field does have form good enough to beat Enable? - but if they go hard he'll be one of the finishers. The price makes the pennies play.

Another at a big price worth a second glance is Idaho. A full brother to Highland Reel, he was only just behind Ulysses when five lengths behind Enable in the King George at Ascot. The point here is that, if you like the chance of Ulysses at 6/1, why wouldn't you be attracted to the (eight times the) price of the horse that finished upsides that one and looks the more likely stayer?

Sure, Idaho has been bashed up in America since. But he was bashed up in America - OK, Canada - on his only other transatlantic trip. Although he won on Ascot's good to firm, he may not enjoy the officially firm Stateside sod. Either way, that race was not run to suit: he sweated up badly, and failed to get the lead he wanted throughout. On his two previous starts he won the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, and then ran that decent third in the King George behind the first two in the betting here. Whichever way you cut that, it does not make him a 50/1 shot.


2017 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Tips

I think ENABLE will win. There, I've said it. She has the best form in the race, she gets all the allowances, she has her optimal trip and probably ground, and she is trained and ridden by horsemen in the top two in their peer groups in Europe. She's not a sexy price but she is the class of this field.

I've been blethering on about her chance since her Oaks romp in early June, and I have backed her to win a few quid at 14's.

It's fair to say I've also backed a couple of others - Terrakova and Shutter Speed - who don't run. But they were double-carpet fliers and very little harm done. Moreover, I backed both the now retired Almanzor and Brametot at 20's each (10's coupled, the latter still 12's - great value!). So I'm not really minded to go in again.

But this isn't about me, it's about you if you've not yet wagered in the race. Capri is my pick of the next wave in the betting, at 16/1 (14/1 NRNB may be a better option). An improving dual Classic winner, he looks a little under-rated at this stage.

At big odds, for small money, Idaho is the wrong price plain and simple. If Ulysses is a genuine 6/1 shot for this, Idaho simply cannot be 50/1. I'd have the former longer and the latter shorter. 50/1 e/w might give you some fun in the run.

Arc winner: Enable

Each way against the favourite: Capri 14/1 NRNB Paddy

Big priced each way hail mary: Idaho 50/1 NRNB BetVictor/Betfair Sports (and perhaps Iquitos 66/1 NRNB Skybet)

Breeders’ Cup 2017 Video Form Guide

The 2017 Breeders' Cup will be run for the first time at Del Mar racetrack, near San Diego, on the Southern Californian coast. The meeting features thirteen races spread over the first Friday and Saturday of November.

Entry to the races is decided by a jury of international handicappers, but there are also a number of "Win And You're In" (WAYI) races around the globe and throughout the calendar year. Below is a video form guide of all such races.

Additionally, there is video form for all the main contenders. Use the search box to find a particular race or runner. All matching entries will be displayed.

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Good luck!

DateRaceTrackCategoryDayRaceVideoNotable Runners
30 August 2017With Anticipation StakesSaratogaJuvenile Turf11ClickCatholic Boy, Untamed Domain
03 September 2017Del Mar Juvenile Turf StakesDel MarJuvenile Turf11ClickEncumbered
09 September 2017Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile StakesLeopardstownJuvenile Turf11ClickNelson
17 September 2017Summer StakesWoodbineJuvenile Turf11ClickUntamed Domain, Hemp Hemp Hurray
23 September 2017Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef StakesNewburyJuvenile Turf11Click (RUK subscribers only)James Garfield
30 September 2017Juddmonte Royal Lodge StakesNewmarketJuvenile Turf11ClickRoaring Lion
30 September 2017Juddmonte Middle Park StakesNewmarketJuvenile Turf11ClickU S Navy Flag, Sioux Nation, Beckford
30 September 2017Pilgrim StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Turf11ClickSeabhac, Voting Control, Maraud
01 October 2017Qatar Prix Jean-Luc LagardereChantillyJuvenile Turf11ClickHappily, Masar
08 October 2017Dixiana Bourbon StakesKeenelandJuvenile Turf11ClickFlameaway, Tap Daddy
09 October 2017Zuma Beach StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile Turf11ClickMy Boy Jack
7 May 2017Steve Sexton MileLone Star ParkDirt Mile12ClickMor Spirit, Iron Fist
27 May 2017Gold Cup at Santa AnitaSanta Anita ParkDirt Mile12ClickCupid, Midnight Storm
10 June 2017Metropolitan HandicapBelmont ParkDirt Mile12ClickMor Spirit, Sharp Azteca
8 July 2017Cornhusker HandicapPrairie MeadowsDirt Mile12ClickIron Fist
22 July 2017TVG San Diego HandicapDel MarDirt Mile12ClickAccelerate, Arrogate
30 July 2017Monmouth Cup StakesMonmouth ParkDirt Mile12ClickSharp Azteca
26 August 2017Priority One Jets Forego StakesSaratogaDirt Mile12ClickDrefong, Awesome Slew, Mind Your Biscuits
26 August 2017H. Allen Jerkens StakesSaratogaDirt Mile12ClickPractical Joke, Takaful
26 August 2017Pat O'Brien StakesDel MarDirt Mile12ClickGiant Expectations
23 September 2017Kelso HandicapBelmont ParkDirt Mile12ClickSharp Azteca
24 September 2017Oklahoma DerbyRemington ParkDirt Mile12ClickBattle Of Midway, Colonelsdarktemper, Gato Del Oro
31 August 2017P G Johnson StakesSaratogaJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickOrbolution, Wild N Ready, Sassy Sienna
10 September 2017Moyglare Stud StakesCurragh RacecourseJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickHappily, Magical, September
17 September 2017Natalma StakesWoodbineJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickCapla Temptress, Dixie Moon, Wonder Gadot
29 September 2017Shadwell RockfelNewmarketJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickJuliet Capulet, Nyaleti, Gavota
30 September 2017Cheveley Park StakesNewmarketJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickClemmie, Madeline, Now You're Talking
01 October 2017Total Prix Marcel BoussacChantillyJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickWIld Illusion, Magical
01 October 2017Miss Grillo StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickSignificant Form, Best Performance, Orbolution
11 October 2017JP Morgan Chase Jessamine StakesKeenelandJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickRushing Fall, Miss Mo Mentum
14 April 2017Apple Blossom HandicapOaklawn ParkDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Terra Promessa
01 May 2017Gran Premio CriadoresPalermoDistaff14ClickKiriaki
03 June 2017Beholder MileSanta Anita ParkDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Vale Dori, Finest City
10 June 2017Ogden Phipps StakesBelmont ParkDistaff14ClickSongbird, Highway Star
17 June 2017Fleur de Lis HandicapChurchill DownsDistaff14ClickForever Unbridled
23 July 2017Cotilllion StakesParxDistaff14ClickIt Tiz Well, Abel Tasman
30 July 2017Clement L. Hirsch HandicapDel MarDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Vale Dori, Faithfully
19 August 2017Alabama HandicapSaratogaDistaff14ClickElate, It Tiz Well, New Money Honey, Mopotism
26 August 2017Personal Ensign H.SaratogaDistaff14ClickForever Unbridled
23 September 2017Coaching Club of America OaksSaratogaDistaff14ClickAbel Tasman, Elate
30 September 2017Beldame Invitational StakesBelmont ParkDistaff14ClickElate,
30 September 2017Zenyatta StakesSanta Anita ParkDistaff14ClickParadise Woods, Faithfully
08 October 2017Juddmonte Spinster StakesKeenelandDistaff14ClickRomantic Vision
02 September 2017Spinaway StakesSaratogaJuvenile Fillies25ClickLady Ivanka, Maya Malibu, Separationofpowers
2 September 2017Del Mar Debutante StakesDel MarJuvenile Fillies25ClickMoonshine Memories, Piedi Bianchi
16 September 2017Pocahontas StakesChurchill DownsJuvenile Fillies25ClickPatrona Margarita, Kelly's Humor
30 September 2017Chandelier StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile Fillies25ClickMoonshine Memories, Alluring Star, Piedi Bianchi
06 October 2017Darley Alcibiades StakesKeenelandJuvenile Fillies25ClickHeavenly Love, Princess Warrior, Kelly's Humor, Bet She Wins
07 October 2017Frizette StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Fillies25ClickSeparationofpowers, Caledonia Road, Maya Malibu, Purrfect Miss
07 January 2017Maine Chance Farms Paddock StakesKenilworthFilly & Mare Turf26ClickBela-Bela
08 April 2017Coolmore Legacy Queen of the Turf StakesRandwickFilly & Mare Turf26ClickFoxplay
23 June 2017Coronation StakesAscotFilly & Mare Turf26ClickWinter, Roly Poly, Hydrangea,
25 June 2017Gran Premio PamplonaHipódromo de MonterricoFilly & Mare Turf26ClickBirdie Gold
22 July 2017Diana StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Turf26ClickLady Eli, Quidura
12 August 2017Beverly D. StakesArlington ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickDacita, Grand Jete, Kitten's Roar
24 August 2017Darley Yorkshire OaksYorkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickEnable, Queen's Trust
26 August 2017Ballston Spa StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Turf26ClickLady Eli
02 September 2017T. Von Zastrow StutenpreisBaden BadenFilly & Mare Turf26ClickAshiana
09 September 2017The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron StakesLeopardstownFilly & Mare Turf26ClickHydrangea, Winter, Wuheida, Roly Poly, Rhododendron
30 September 2017Rodeo Drive StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickAvenge
01 October 2017Longines Prix de L'OperaChantillyFilly & Mare Turf26ClickRhododendron, Hydrangea, Queen's Trust, Senga, Wuheida
07 October 2017Sun Chariot StakesNewmarketFilly & Mare Turf26ClickRoly Poly,
07 October 2017First Lady StakesKeenelandFilly & Mare Turf26ClickZipessa
08 October 2017Flower Bowl Invitational StakesBelmont ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickWar Flag, Dacita, Grand Jete
18 February 2017General George StakesLaurel ParkSprint27ClickImperial Hint, Stallwalkin' Dude
01 July 2017Smile Sprint HandicapGulfstream ParkSprint27ClickImperial Hint
08 July 2017Belmont Sprint ChampionshipBelmont ParkSprint27ClickMind Your Biscuits, Awesome Slew
09 June 2017True North StakesBelmont ParkSprint27ClickRoy H, Stallwalkin' Dude, Whitmore
29 July 2017Alfred G Vanderbilt StakesSaratogaSprint27ClickEl Deal, Awesome Banner, Limousine Liberal
29 July 2017Bing Crosby StakesDel MarSprint27ClickRansom the Moon, Roy H
30 September 2017Vosburgh Invitational StakesBelmont ParkSprint27ClickTakaful, El Deal, Stallwalkin' Dude
07 October 2017Santa Anita Sprint ChampionshipSanta Anita ParkSprint27ClickRoy H, Giant Expectations, Ransom The Moon
06 October 2017Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix StakesKeenelandSprint27ClickWhitmore, Awesome Banner, Limousine Liberal
01 April 2017Darley T. J. Smith StakesRandwickTurf Sprint28ClickChautauqua
09 April 2017Turf Monster StakesParxTurf Sprint28ClickPure Sensation, Mongolian Saturday, Holding Gold
10 June 2017Jaipur StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickDisco Partner, Green Mask, Hogy, Holding Gold, Pure Sensation
20 June 2017King's Stand StakesAscotTurf Sprint28ClickLady Aurelia, Marsha
02 July 2017Highlander StakesWoodbine RacetrackTurf Sprint28ClickGreen Mask
18 August 2017Del Mar Green Flash StakesDel MarTurf Sprint28ClickTribalist
25 August 2017Coolmore Nunthorpe StakesYorkTurf Sprint28ClickMarsha, Lady Aurelia
10 September 2017Derrinstown Stud Flying Five StakesCurragh RacecourseTurf Sprint28ClickCaravaggio
10 September 2017Allied Forces StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickWhite Flag, Big Handsome
01 October 2017Sprinters StakesNakayamaTurf Sprint28ClickRed Falx
01 October 2017Longines Prix de l'AbbayeChantillyTurf Sprint28ClickMarsha
07 October 2017Woodford StakesKeenelandTurf Sprint28ClickBucchero, Hogy, Mongolian Saturday
07 October 2017Belmont Turf Sprint StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickDisco Partner
04 September 2017Hopeful StakesSaratogaJuvenile29ClickSporting Chance, Free Drop Billy, Firenze Fire
04 September 2017Del Mar Futurity StakesDel MarJuvenile29ClickBolt d'Oro, Run Away
16 September 2017Iroquois StakesChurchill DownsJuvenile29ClickThe Tabulator, Hollywood Star
22 September 2017Bertram F Bongard StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile29ClickBattle Station
30 September 2017FrontRunner StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile29ClickBolt d'Oro, Solomini, Encumbered
07 October 2017Claiborne Breeders' FuturityKeenelandJuvenile29ClickFree Drop Billy, Lone Sailor
08 October 2017Foxwoods Champagne StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile29ClickFirenze Fire, Good Magic
25 May 2017Gran Premio 25 de MayoSan IsidroTurf210Click
Ordak Dan
02 June 2017Coronation CupEpsomTurf210ClickHighland Reel, Frontiersman
11 June 2017Gran Premio BrasilHipodromo de GaveaTurf210Click
Voador Magee
21 June 2017Prince of Wales's StakesAscotTurf210ClickHighland Reel, Ulysses, Queen's Trust, Decorated Knight
25 June 2017Takarazuka KinenHanshin RacecourseTurf210ClickSatono Crown
01 July 2017United Nations StakesMonmouth ParkTurf210ClickBigger Picture, Beach Patrol, Oscar Nominated
29 July 2017QIPCO King George VI & Queen Elizabeth StakesAscotTurf210Click
29 July 2017Bowling Green StakesSaratogaTurf210Click
Bigger Picture, Sadler's Joy
12 August 2017Arlington MillionArlington ParkTurf210ClickBeach Patrol, Fanciful Angel, Oscar Nominated, Divisidero
12 August 2017Secretariat StakesArlington ParkTurf210ClickOscar Performance
19 August 2017Del Mar HandicapDel MarTurf210Click
Hunt, Itsinthepost
23 August 2017Juddmonte International StakesYorkTurf210ClickUlysses, Decorated Knight
26 August 2017Sword Dancer Invitational StakesSaratogaTurf210ClickSadler's Joy, Money Multiplier, Frank Conversation
03 September 2017Longines Grosser Preis von BadenBaden BadenTurf210Click
09 September 2017QIPCO Irish Champion StakesLeopardstownTurf210ClickDecorated Knight,
30 September 2017Joe Hirsch Turf Classic InvitationalBelmont ParkTurf210ClickBeach Patrol, Fanciful Angel, Oscar Performance, Sadler's Joy
01 October 2017Qatar Prix de l'Arc de TriompheChantillyTurf210Click
Cloth Of Stars, Ulysses,
01 October 2017John Henry Turf ChampionshipSanta Anita ParkTurf210Click
Itsinthepost, Frank Conversation
15 October 2017Pattinson Canadian InternationalWoodbineTurf210Click
Oscar Nominated
05 February 2017Las Virgenes StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Mopotism, Champagne Room
04 March 2017Santa Ysabel StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Abel Tasman
06 May 2017Humana Distaff StakesChurchill DownsFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Paulassilverlining, Finest City, Carina Mia
01 July 2017Princess Rooney HandicapGulfstream ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Curlin's Approval
08 July 2017Great Lady M StakesLos AlamitosFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Skye Diamonds, Constellation, Finest City
26 July 2017Honorable Miss StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Paulassilverlining, Finley'sluckycharm, By The Moon
13 August 2017Rancho Bernardo StakesDel MarFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Skye Diamonds, Constellation
26 August 2017Ballerina StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
By The Moon, Highway Star, Paulassilverlining, Curlin's Approval
24 September 2017Gallant Bloom HandicapBelmont ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Highway Star, Carina Mia
07 October 2017Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
KeenelandFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Finley'sluckycharm, Chalon
08 October 2017LA Woman StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Princess Karen
07 January 2017L'Ormarins Queen's Plate
KenilworthMile 212Click
Legal Eagle
01 April 2017 The Star Doncaster MileRandwickMile212Click
It's Somewhat
06 May 2017Turf ClassicChurchill DownsMile212Click
Divisidero, Beach Patrol, Oscar Nominated, Bal A Bali, Ballagh Rocks
28 May 2017Gran Premio de Hipico FalabellaClub Hipico de SantiagoMile212Click
Top Casablance
03 June 2017Shoemaker MileSanta Anita ParkMile212Click
Bal A Bali, Heart To Heart
04 June 2017Yasuda KinenTokyo RacecourseMile212Click
Satono Aladdin
10 June 2017Manhattan StakesBelmot ParkMile212Click
World Approval, Beach Patrol, Divisidero, Sadler's Joy
22 July 2017Eddie Read StakesDel MarMile212Click
Hunt, Mr. Roary,
02 August 2017Qatar Sussex StakesGoodwoodMile212Click
Here Comes When
12 August 2017Fourstardave Handicap StakesSaratogaMile212Click
World Approval, Ballagh Rocks
13 August 2017Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois
Al Wukair
20 August 2017Del Mar MileDel MarMile212Click
Blackjackcat, Om
04 September 2017Bernard Baruch Handicap StakesSaratogaMile212Click
Heart To Heart
16 September 2017Ricoh Woodbine MileWoodbineMile212Click
World Approval, Lancaster Bomber, Long On Value
07 October 2017Shadwell Turf MileKeenelandMile212Click
Suedois, Ballagh Rocks, Heart To Heart, Divisidero
07 October 2017Obviously MileSanta Anita ParkMile212Click
19 February 2017February StakesTokyo RacecourseClassic 213Click
Gold Dream
25 March 2017Dubai World CupMeydanClassic213Click
Arrogate, Gun Runner, Mubtaahij
22 April 2017Californian StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic213Click
17 June 2017Stephen Foster HandicapChurchill DownsClassic213Click
Gun Runner
24 June 2017Precisionist StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic 213Click
Collected, Accelerate
30 July 2017Haskell Invitational Monmouth ParkClassic213Click
Girvin, Battle Of Midway
05 August 2017The WhitneySaratogaClassic 213Click
Gun Runner, Keen Ice
19 August 2017TVG Pacific ClassicDel MarClassic213Click
Collected, Arrogate, Accelerate
26 August 2017Travers StakesSaratogaClassic213Click
West Coast, Gunnevera
02 September 2017Woodward StakesSaratogaClassic213Click
Gun Runner
23 September 2017Pennsylvania Derby StakesParxClassic213Click
West Coast
29 September 2017Koffy Diamond StakesDundalkClassic213Click
War Decree
30 September 2017 Awesome Again StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic213Click
Mubtaahij, Win The Space, Midnight Storm, Cupid, Curlin Rules
07 October 2017Jockey Club Gold Cup InvitationalBelmont ParkClassic213Click
Diversify, Keen Ice, Pavel

Doncaster TV Trends: Thursday 14th Sept 2017

The ITV cameras head to Doncaster racecourse this week for the 4-day St Leger Meeting – they will be covering races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with races spread across both ITV and ITV4.
As always, we’ve got it all covered with all the TV race trends and stats – these should help narrow down the fields and also highlight the best profiles of horses that have done well in the races in the past.

Thursday 14th September 2017

1:50 - British Stallion Studs "Carrie Red" EBF Fillies´ Stakes (Nursery Handicap) Cl2 6f110y ITV4

14/14 – Had raced in the last 6 weeks
12/14 – Carried 9-3 or less
12/14 – Placed third or better last time out
11/14 – Rated 75 or higher
10/14 – Won by a Feb or Mar-born foal
10/14 – Had won at least one race before
9/14 – Placed favourites
9/14 – Came from a double-figure stall
9/14 – Had won over 6f or 7f before
7/14 – Won last time out
4/14 – Winning favourites
2/14 – Had run at Doncaster before
2/14 – Won by the Hannon team
2/14 – Won by the Richard Fahey team
2/14 – Won by the Paul Cole yard
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 9.5/1

 2.25 – William Hill May Hill Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 1m ITV4

14/15 – Had 1 or 2 previous career wins
13/15 – Had won over 7f before
13/15 – Had 2 or more previous career runs
13/15 – Won by a Feb, Mar or April foal
10/15 – Won last time out
9/15 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
7/15 – Drawn in stalls 1 or 2
5/15 – Winning favourites
4/15 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse
2/15 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/15 – Ridden by Jimmy Fortune
2/15 – Trained by Richard Hannon
2/15 – Trained by John Gosden
9 of the last 11 winners returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 7/2

3:00 - DFS Park Hill Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 1m6f132y ITV4

12/14 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
12/14 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
11/14 – Ran within the last 6 weeks
10/14 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
10/14 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
9/14 – Placed favourites
9/14 – Won no more than 4 times before
8/14 – Previous Group winners
8/14 – Had run at Doncaster before
6/14 – Had won over at least 1m6f before
6/14 – Irish bred
5/14 – Won last time out
4/14 – Won the Lilly Langtry (Goodwood) that season
4/14 – Raced at Goodwood last time out
4/14 – Winning favourites
3/14 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/14 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/14 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 6/1

3:35 - Weatherbys Racing Bank £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes Cl2 6f110y ITV4

12/13 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
9/13 – Finished 5th or better last time out
10/13 – Yet to win over 7f
10/13 – Won between 1-2 times
10/13 – Won from a double-figure stall
9/13 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
7/13 – Placed favourites
6/13 – Foaled in Jan or Feb
6/13 – Raced at York last time out
4/13 – Won last time out
3/13 – Winning favourites
3/13 – Trained by Richard Fahey (including 2 or the last 3 runnings)
2/13 – Had raced at Doncaster before
2/13 – Trained by Jeremy Noseda
2/13 – Trained by Brian Meehan
2/13 – Ridden by Franny Norton
2/13 – Won by a filly
1/13 – Irish-trained winners
1/13 – Placed horses from stall 1 (third 2009)
8 of the last 10 winners carried 8-12 or less
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 18/1


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Doncaster TV Trends: Friday 15th Sept 2017

The ITV cameras head to Doncaster racecourse this week for the 4-day St Leger Meeting – they will be covering races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with races spread across both ITV and ITV4.
As always, we’ve got it all covered with all the TV race trends and stats – these should help narrow down the fields and also highlight the best profiles of horses that have done well in the races in the past.

Friday 15th September 2017


1.50 - Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 7f ITV4

12/14 – Never raced at Doncaster before
11/14 – Won between 1-3 times before
10/14 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
9/14 – Had won over 7f before
9/14 – Drawn in stalls 3-7 (inc)
8/14 – Placed favourites
7/14 – Came from the top three in the betting
7/14 – Returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
7/14 – Won last time out
4/14 – Winning favourites
3/14 – Won by the Hills stable
2/14 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/14 – Trained by Roger Varian (last 2 runnings)
1/14 – Irish-trained winners
0/14 – Winners from stall 1 or 2
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 10.5/1

2.25 – Wainwrights Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 5f ITV4

14/14 – Had raced in the last 4 weeks
12/14 – Placed horses from stall 2 or 3
11/14 – Drawn in stall 7 or lower
10/14 – Won 1-2 times before
10/14 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
10/14 – Had won at Listed or Group class before
9/14 – Returned 5/1 or shorter in the betting
7/14 – Winning favourites
7/14 – Placed favourites
6/14 – Foaled in April
6/14 – Ran at York last time
5/14 – Trained by the Richard Hannon yard
5/14 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
4/14 – Won last time out
1/14 – Irish-trained winners
0/14 – Winners from stall 1
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 11/2


3:00 – William Hill Mallard Stakes (Handicap) Cl2 1m6f132y ITV4

14/14 – Drawn in stall 11 or lower
13/14 – Aged 5 or younger
13/14 – Had won at least twice before
11/14 – Drawn in stall 8 or lower
10/14 – Had won over 1m4f or further before
10/14 – Winning distance 1 length or more
10/14 – Carried 8-10 or more
10/14 – Aged 3 or 4 years-old
8/14 – Had 5 or more runs that season
7/14 – Had run at Doncaster before (5 won)
6/14 – Ran at York last time out
5/14 – Returned a double-figure price
5/14 – Won last time out
5/14 – Winning favourites
4/14 – Ridden by Jamie Spencer
2/14 – Trained by Michael Bell
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 9/1

3:35 – Doncaster Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 2) Cl1 2m2f ITV4

15/16 – Had won over 1m6f or further before
14/16 – Had 2 or more runs that season
13/16 – Returned 11/2 or shorter in the betting
12/16 – Drawn in stall 4 or higher
12/16 – Had run at Doncaster before (6 won)
11/16 – Placed last time out
11/16 – Had won 5 or more times before
10/16 – Ran at York last time out
10/16 – Aged 6 or younger
10/16 – Group race winners
9/16 – Winning distance 1 or more lengths
8/16 – Unplaced favourites
6/16 – Won last time out
5/16 – Winning favourites
3/16 – Trained in Ireland
Sheikhzayedroad won the race in 2016
Pallasator won the race in 2015
The average winning SP in the last 10 years is 10/3


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Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Four Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Four Preview, Tips

The fourth day of five, and the last for which I will be previewing the action. Saturday's are for superstar punters and 'recreationals', in my opinion, and if you know you're not a superstar punter, well, you know... 😉

Parking the joy hoover and getting back to Friday's action, it doesn't get any easier. The very wet Wednesday, which turned the ground heavy, has been superseded by dry breezy days. These will suck much of the moisture from the turf leaving sticky claggy holding ground. In France, they have a 'holding' going description. Here, we call it soft but it is anybody's guess whether a horse will act on it. I'd very much like to see the introduction of a 'holding' going description. But don't be 'holding' your breath for that to happen.

Be all that as it may, we have race puzzles to solve, and we have that muddy fly in the ointment to keep aforethought, as we begin at...

1.50 Glorious Stakes (1m 4f, 4yo+, Group 3)

Eight declared for what will be a decent test of stamina in the expected conditions. With little science behind the theory, I tend to prefer horses racing close to the pace when the turf is gluey. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is more difficult for closers to accelerate, so that will play into these deliberations.

Keep in mind, too, that there are trends for Friday's Glorious Goodwood action here.

The clear form horse in the race is Godolphin's Frontiersman, runner up the last twice in Group 1 and Group 2 company. This then is a drop in class, but he's a quirky chap who races from the back of the field as a rule. He hung quite badly at both Epsom and Newmarket meaning Goodwood's undulations are hardly ideal. Moreover, William Buick's mount has never raced on slower than good to soft, and on that one occasion he was well beaten in a Group 3. Form pick he may be, but there are enough reasons to look elsewhere at the price.

Poet's Word won a handicap at this meeting last year over a furlong shorter, so trip and track should be fine. But that was on firm ground and in Class 3, this is soft and Group 3. He's improved since, finishing second in a Group 3 last time, but all his best form is on a sound surface (beaten five lengths both times on good to soft, though ran all right each time).

One which may lack the class of the above pair but will be suited to the conditions is Lord Yeats. He has progressed from a handicapper into a Pattern class horse this term, winning both starts, the most recent of which was a Listed contest where he beat the re-opposing Second Step. His recent improvement coincides with spins on soft ground and he is the lone pace angle in the race. 6/1 seems worth the risk.

Second Step is also interesting: he gets to run on (presumed at time of writing) soft ground for the first time since a debut neck second 20 runs back. He has been a consistent servant to connections and has been rated as high as 118 in the past. He is a deep closer which may or may not help his cause in the ground but 6/1 probably offers a degree of latitude in that regard.

The rest may not be quite good enough.


2.25 Thoroughbred Stakes (1m, 3yo, Group 3)

A sighter ahead of one of the big handicaps of the week over the same trip, one mile. Eleven largely unexposed three-year-olds line up and it requires an element of projection as to which may step forward the most. At least, unlike with the juvenile races, there is some form in the book.

The favourite is the French raider, TRAIS FLUORS, who represents the magnificent Andre Fabre. But while M. Fabre's overall record when hopping across to Blighty is impressive - 11 winners from 50 runners (22%) since 2009 - he has brought but a single horse to Goodwood in recent times, perhaps ever. That was the well fancied Reefscape in 2006, who could only finish seventh behind Yeats in the Goodwood Cup.

Still, it is an interesting entry, and Trais Fluors had a solid string of winning form - four career wins on the bounce - before beating all bar Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat last time. That one had previously been third in the St James's Palace Stakes and second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, form which looks smart in the context of this Group 3.

And, whisper it, Vincent Cheminaud (Van-sonn Shem-ee-no) may have given the late, late runner too much to do that last day. He is the clear form choice in the race and will win if he handles the ground and VC gets the fractions right. Regarding soft ground, he's by Dansili out of a Manduro mare, which offers plenty of hope to his backers. [Non-runner]

Of the rest, Andrew Balding's Beat The Bank is three from four including an easy Listed success last time. He needs to find more - perfectly possible - and prove he acts in this mud.

Meanwhile, Mr Goodwood, Andrea Atzeni, legs up on Make Time, one of the few in the race with form on soft. The son of Makfi, out of a Lomitas mare, won his maiden by five lengths on his sole try on slow turf. That race has worked out all right, with ten subsequent winners from 48 starts, and he could be the one to benefit if the favourite falters. He looks fairly assured as an each way/placepot play at 4/1 with some of the, erm, lesser bookies. At least I hope he does...


3.00 Betfred Mile Handicap (1m, Class 2)

This big field mile handicap has one of the strongest draw biases in the calendar. Those drawn low and with a prominent run style have a huge edge on their higher drawn counterparts. Indeed, 13 of the last twenty winners were berthed in the inside five stalls, with another two drawn in stall seven. 75% of the winners from 35% of the draw. Moreover, 54 of the 80 place positions (67.5%) came from the bottom 50% of the draw.

The imponderable, to some degree, is the ground; but it remains safest to focus on those low and front rank. Interesting against that brief are Withernsea and Birchwood, both trained by Richard Fahey (won this in 2003 with Lady Bear, drawn five).

Withernsea will exit trap seven, successful in 2015 (So Beloved, later disqualified for a banned substance) and 2010 (Sea Lord). He's a prominent racer rather than right on the speed, and should be able to settle in behind Zhui Feng and the wide drawn pair of G K Chesterton and Masham Star. His soft ground record is 21871, the most recent win coming in a 15-runner handicap at Newbury. The '8' was over seven furlongs here, where he was staying on before running out of piste; and the '7' was when badly interfered with.

Only four pounds higher than that last win and off the same mark as when an excellent third in the International Handicap (27 runners) last weekend he has a lot going for him for a 20/1 chance (Victor).

Birchwood is more speculative, a fact that is accommodated in a quote of 25/1. To date he's race exclusively at up to seven furlongs meaning an immediate doubt about stamina. His pedigree offers only the faintest of hope. And yet... he was a Group 2 winner as a juvenile, has run consistently well on a soft surface, is drawn in stall two and has a prominent racing style. Jamie Spencer takes the reins and he is an excellent judge of pace: hopefully he'll keep this lad in a forward position and ride as though stamina is guaranteed. From there we'll see. As always, the price makes the play.

Zhui Feng has a lot in his favour. What is against him, however, is a rising mark - lines up off a career high rating - and a perception that he doesn't want it on the slow side. That, coupled to a quote of 12/1, means he's not for me this time.

The favourite is Blair House. He's a lightly raced son of Pivotal who has finished first and second in his two runs on good to soft. He's untried on softer but indications are that he will handle it. Stall nine is not insurmountable, though if adopting his usual midfield style, mucho lucko may be required for a clear passage. At 6/1, he's no more than a small saver option.

Henry Candy's Greenside, a five length winner of a soft ground handicap, has been very well backed. He may well be suited by the sodden lawns but he was racing off 76 that day and now competes off 23 pounds north. Though he's doubtless improved in the interim it remains possible that he outclassed his lower grade opposition rather than relished the underfoot.

Still, he seems to have conditions largely to suit, though the combination of his weight and draw (11) mean he's only fairly priced at 9/1, even allowing for the fact he should be able to get a handy sit.

I thought Arcanada was interesting until I saw his draw. He's got stall 21 and that may be too much to overcome. As a generally prominent racer, his jockey - Tom Dascombe - will have a fiendish task getting across near the front without using too much petrol. The alternative is to take back, sit and hope, which is not an especially attractive punting proposition; not for me at least. On the plus side, he likes soft ground and big fields, as he showed when fourth in last year's Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot; and his prep run was eye-catching. But 12/1 is a rubbish price with the draw.

I'm happy to take my chances with 25/1 Birchwood and, especially, 20/1 Withernsea.


3.35 King George Stakes (5f, Group 2)

A classy sprint though one where not all of the principles are sure to be suited by the give in the turf. The one who will, and the one to be on, is PROFITABLE. Clive Cox's sprinter was a Group 1 winner over five furlongs on soft last year, in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot; and he's twice run second so far this term, including in the same race on good to firm. Back on an easy surface, he'll relish conditions and has a class edge on the more exposed runners in this field. 3/1 is nap material.

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There are some less exposed types, however, most notably Battaash. But that one's only unplaced effort in six spins over the minimum was when encountering soft ground (and a big field) in last year's Windsor Castle Stakes. The jury remains out on his effectiveness in the wet, in spite of some terrific efforts on quicker so far this term.

Likewise, the fast filly, Marsha, has yet to race on softer than good in eleven turf starts. She was a very close fifth, beaten less than a length, in this last year, but that was on good to firm. Nevertheless, she is quite a big price - 7/1 - if you're happy to roll the dice on the going concern.

Pick of the outsiders has to be Final Venture. Paul Midgley's flyer loves soft turf, has improved this season, and is drawn close to the rail in stall eleven. 20/1 is too big in a race where plenty are either unproven or probably won't enjoy conditions.


4.10 Nursery Handicap (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

This is filed under 'impossible', though the late Dandy Nicholls obviously didn't get the memo: he won it four times on the spin between 2006 and 2009. It might have been nice if they'd named it in his memory this year, his forays to the Glorious meeting rarely fruitless.

My lucky dart has fallen on Holy Tiber, twice a winner from three career starts and both times on soft ground. She is a handicap debutant for George Scott, whose record with 'cap first timers in the last two years is four-from-twelve. That's impressive - well above par with an IV of 3.3 and an A/E of 1.37 implying some value in the prices at which they're sent off. It's a micro sample of course but this ain't a race where there's much to go on. In the land of the blind and all that...

James Given runs Gift In Time, another having its first run in a handicap. Given's figures are also positive for both A/E and IV and this son of Society Rock was second on soft on his debut. A mark of 82 may underestimate his ability a smidge, notwithstanding that there are any number in opposition for which that comment applies.

The Richard Hannon's, father and son, have fared well, albeit from plenty of runners. Surprisingly, they're unrepresented this time. Two trainers who do saddle entries are Mick Channon and Mark Johnston. Although collectively one from 36 since 2003, they've hit the board on twelve further occasions, a 36% place strike rate. If their luck is to change this year it will be courtesy of one of Milton Road (Channon), Branscombe or Rufus King (both Johnston).

Milton Road is an experienced young man with eleven starts to his name already, the most recent of which was when thumped on soft/heavy at Sandown on Wednesday night. Branscombe was also whacked on soft last time which tempers enthusiasm, but stable mate, Rufus King, ran arguably his best race when second to the capable Cardsharp in the Brian Yeardley Two Year Old Trophy. He is two from three at six furlongs, including last time out, and also has fair form with Coventry winner, Rajasinghe.

Very trappy stuff and we'll still have one more leg of the placepot to go if we fluke through this!


4.40 Oak Tree Stakes (7f, fillies & mares, Group 3)

A seven furlong big field of fillies and mares, with the three-year-olds getting six pounds in weight for age from their elders. For whatever reason, perhaps coincidence, very low drawn lasses have fared way better than random: indeed those housed in stalls one and two have claimed eleven of the last 20 renewals for a level stakes profit of over 41 points at SP. Crikey. The place percentages back that up with those boxed in traps one to five having much the best of it.

12/1 chance Al Jazi had stall one last year and Frankie made the most of it for trainer, Francois Rohaut. The same team are back to defend their crown but, from stall six and on much slower ground, it will be a different test. I'm not inclined to support her chance.

Stall one this time belongs to another very interesting overseas raider, Wild Approach. This frau comes from the German stable of Dominik Moser. Moser is no mug: he's brought 13 horses to Britain in the last five years, two of them winning (33/1 and 14/1), and another two finishing second. This filly was second on soft last time in a mile Group 3 and acts on any ground. She races prominently and I'm more than happy to take a chance with her at 25/1.

Bletchley has stall two and, though her run style is more midfield, she has some decent form on good to soft. This will be the slowest she's encountered most likely, and she could conceivably improve for it.

It's a really tricky race to weigh up so the German dark horse will do for me.


5.15 Handicap (1m 3f, 3yo, Class 3)

I'm at Goodwood socially for this Friday card, and I'll be a few bottles of that very fine Goodwood Ale into proceedings by this point. Wagering then will have been undertaken early and lightly against another fiendish proposition for the nightcap. Fourteen three-year-olds line up with eleven furlongs to cover, and you'll know by now my discomfort with 3yo handicaps.

What is remarkable, to me anyway, is that five of the last six winners have returned 4/1 or shorter, in average fields of 13. So maybe it's not one to overthink.

Sir Michael Stoute has booked Ryan Moore for the Queen's Swiftsure in the trainer's bid for a third win in the race since 2011. The son of Dubawi was second on his debut on soft ground, but beaten a long way under similar conditions ten weeks ago. He'll likely prove better in time but there are reservations about whether he wants to make a print with his hooves.

Charlie Appleby runs two: Cross Step and unbeaten handicap debutant, Walton Street. The latter, a son of Cape Cross, was comfortably the best on his only run so far, in a Pontefract maiden. Since that race three weeks ago, just one horse has raced, and it won giving the form some substance. An opening mark of 84 probably understates Walton Street's ability but he will find this a very different examination from his first racecourse experience.

Cross Step, a Kitten's Joy gelding, found it hard to justify an opening peg of 85 in a Newbury handicap over a mile and a half. That was good to firm and this is soft: the same trainer has another son of Kitten's Joy, the classy Hawkbill, who has run his best races on similarly testing turf, so there is hope in this first try on the deep.

One that will definitely act in conditions, if he lines up, is Wednesday's heavy ground winner, Londinium. He was much the best in that similar handicap over a furlong further and, if not cream crackered, has an obvious chance of doubling up in this slightly weaker race under a six pound penalty.

I'm struggling to make a compelling case for anything especially, so if I'm lucky rather than good, Cross Step may improve for the easier surface and, hopefully, at a nice price.

Yes please, another bottle of Goodwood Ale - thanks!


As mentioned at the top of this post, it will be the last of the week from this digital quill. I've alluded as to why above the little asterisk north of this sentence...

I hope the previews have added some interest, and potentially profit, to your week's betting and I wish you all the luck if you're taking on the Saturday card. I will mostly be nursing a hangover, and also heading to the Cotswolds for a week's holiday with my family; but fear not, it will be business as usual at with punting pointers aplenty wherever you're playing.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!


Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Three Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Three Preview, Tips

Humpback day at the Qatar Goodwood Festival (there, I've said it), the middle day of three. With the Goodwood Cup and the Sussex Stakes now behind us, it at first glance seems a long way home. But there is much still to tempt, tease and tickle our wagering fancy, not least of which the septet of sodukos set for Thursday. The centrepiece is the Nassau Stakes, a mile and a quarter Group 1 race for fillies and mares, at 3.35. We begin an hour and three quarters beforehand, however, with the...

1.50 Handicap (1m 2f, 3yo, Class 2)

Since I first wrote this preview piece (Tuesday afternoon), the rain has arrived in large quantities, so I've added footnotes regarding soft ground horses.

Eighteen of the Classic generation line up and there is every chance of a messy scrimmage of a race similar to the opening heat of the week over the same range. Luck then may play its part and, in such a context, we ought to demand a premium on the price we take about a fancy, that term used only lightly in this race. With limited form book evidence to throw into the mix, perhaps the trends - from Andy's Day Three Glorious Goodwood Trends post - will shed some light.

All of the last 14 winners had between one and three wins to their names. All bar one in that time raced within four weeks; and all bar two returned at 9/1 or shorter.

Mark Johnston has trained the winner six times since 1998. He saddles the 88-rated pair, Monticello and Morning Suit. Typically frequently campaigned for runners from this yard, they've both been rattling the crossbar much of the time.

Monticello had been second twice in small fields before disappointing in a similar race at Newmarket last time, and the big field here is something he's not encountered before. Morning Suit is a little more interesting: he's run consistently well except for the two occasions he's encountered good to firm ground. Removing those efforts from his turf record, at a mile plus, reads 123, though he's yet to race over this far. If he stays, he might outrun odds of 25/1; however, none of his trainer's previous winners were returned bigger than 14/1.

The favourite is ADDEYBB, and William Haggas' Pivotal gelding looks nicely progressive. Indeed he's won his last two of three career starts, both at a mile. Stamina questions are supported on both sides of the pedigree, with mum being a daughter of Kingmambo. Stall 13 should be fine for one who has already shown run style versatility and, while not exactly an inspired pick, he fits the profile well and could easily complete the hat-trick at around the 6/1 mark.

Simon Crisford saddles Archetype, a free going sort who likes to get on with things in his races. He's won two of his last three and, though he needs to get across from stall 15, that is perfectly possible as I intimated in this article on the Goodwood draw bias. Whilst there is a fair bit of pace in the field, two of the most likely trio are drawn inside and, thus, Archetype has his chance to get a prominent early sit. 14/1 is all right each way.

SOFT: The one soft ground winner in the field is David Simcock's Good Omen, a winner of two of his last three. He will be played late by Jamie Spencer. Plenty of others have yet to encounter soft and could improve for it, so it's not a race to be piling into in my view.


2.25 Lillie Langtry Stakes (1m 6f, fillies, Group 3)

A staying contest for fillies and mares, this Group 3 was won by a subsequent Group 1 winner, Simple Verse, two years ago. Time will tell whether the class of 2017 has anything of that calibre in its midst but there is some established class and some unexposed improvers.

Principal among the proven lasses is Godolphin's ENDLESS TIME, twice runner up in Group 1 company in France last autumn but a shade below that level so far this term. Back against her own sex and dropped significantly in class, she could run away with this if returning to form: on recent evidence that's a fair sized 'if'.

Ralph 'Raif' Beckett runs FOUR, the pick of which might be Melodic Motion. Unable to win a maiden after three attempts, she has come through the handicap ranks unbeaten in three, the most recent of which was in Class 3 over a mile and a half. She was a winner on this track the time before and, as a three year old, receives a healthy eleven pounds from Endless Time and the other older mares.

Of Beckett's other three entries, I'd slightly favour Alyssa over Diamonds Pour Moi and Rich Legacy. Proven at the trip and a Listed winner last autumn, she may struggle to match Endless Time's class and/or to give the weight to Melodic Motion, but she could pick up the pieces.

One I'd want to be against at the prices is Natural Scenery, another Godolphin runner, but one which has been performing with credit on all weather tracks. Her turf form is weak in the context of a Group 3, the leap of faith required not sufficiently factored into odds of 11/2.

Sir Michael Stoute's Dubka is of mild interest. Her three worst performances have all been on good to firm so, providing it doesn't dry out markedly, she could put her best hoof forward. That would give her a place chance at least.

It's a tricky race, and one where Endless Time holds a clear class edge on what we've seen so far. With further improvement already factored into the progressive fillies' prices, I'm inclined to side with proven ability. Dubka fits that same bill to a lesser extent.

SOFT: The selection has won two from three on soft making the ground a plus for her chance if she's back to form. Dubka also has solid form with cut, so no changes to the above.


3.00 Richmond Stakes (6f, 2yo, Group 2)

A juvenile sprint which has been dominated by the favourite in recent years, but which lacks that sort of star quality this time around. Clear form pick is Mark Johnston's Cardsharp, who has danced every dance this season. Having won a Brighton maiden on 3rd May, he's since picked up the Beverley Two-Year-Old Trophy and the Group 2 July Stakes as well as recording fine placed efforts in the Woodcote at Epsom and the Norfolk at Royal Ascot. Chapeau.

That last day triumph was a career best so, though he faces far less exposed rivals, he is tough and game and may not have finished going forwards himself.

In HEADWAY, however, he has a serious foe. Unlucky not to win the Coventry at Royal Ascot - failing by a fast-evaporating head to reel in Rajasinghe - this son of Havana Gold could make the step past Cardsharp if any can. He's progressed takingly from race to race, winning a Chester maiden after running up over five furlongs on debut, and 3/1 seems fair about his chance.

U S Navy Flag is another who has seen a lot of combat already, but he was two lengths behind Cardsharp last time and it is hard to see those placings being reversed in spite of a three pound weight differential this time. Barraquero might be more interesting, though he has a lot to find with the top of the market. A six length winner of an ordinary Chesptow novice last time, he should step forward again. Whether that will be a small pace forward or a large stride - the latter required - is unknown, though a quote of 10/1 offers some insurance against the former.

SOFT: Nebo was an impressive winner on his debut at Newbury on soft ground and enters place calculations off the back of that.


3.35 Nassau Stakes (1m 2f, fillies, Group 1)

A classy renewal of the Nassau, moved from its traditional Saturday pitch to the middle of the Festival. It is a race which has been dominated by streaky top tier trainers in recent years: Sir Michael Stoute won it from 2002 to 2004, Aidan O'Brien in 2007 and 2008 (and last year), [Sir] Henry Cecil in 2009, 2010, and 2011 (all with the remarkable Midday), and John Gosden from 2012 to 2014.

With the obvious exception of the late Sir Henry, the remaining three are represented: O'Brien has the favourite, Winter (and Hydrangea); Gosden runs fellow three-year-old, Shutter Speed (and seasonal debutante, So Mi Dar); and Sir Michael asks Queen's Trust to concede the weight as a four-year-old.

Winter deserves to be favoured on the strength of her early season triple Group 1 haul. Having run riot in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, she then took dead aim at the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, again putting daylight between herself and her rivals. She is clearly a very good three year old. At a mile, against three-year-olds. This, though, is ten furlongs and for all ages.

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Nothing Winter has done so far has suggested she won't see out the trip, though there is a slight niggle on the dam side of her pedigree; and she gets that welcome weight for age allowance of eight pounds to help her cause. Moreover, the filly she's beaten the last twice - Roly Poly - has since won two Group 1 races in her own right, both at a mile.

7/4 is fine and I couldn't put you off her chance, but I'm inclined to have a tilt at one each way here. And that one is Shutter Speed. This beautifully bred daughter of Dansili, out of an Oasis Dream mare, was unbeaten in three UK starts prior to a fair fourth in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) last time. It is hard to say she didn't stay that day because she'd won the Group 3 Musidora the time before over the same sort of trip. But the tempo of the French Classic was muddling and that may have done for her, as may the trip across La Manche. It is also possible, of course, that she simply was not good enough, an eventuality which gives her too much to do here.

Frankie Dettori has opted for stable mate So Mi Dar, leaving Pat Smullen to do the steering on Prince Khalid Abdullah's filly: he is as able a deputy as there is. So Mi Dar was a progressive three-year-old who signed off last campaign with a close third in the Prix de l'Opera on Arc weekend. She was expected to win that day - odds on - and hasn't been seen since. It is to be assumed that she has trained well given jockey bookings, but this is a warm heat in which to be blowing away any cobwebs. Doubtless hers will be a globe-trotting late season campaign.

Queen's Trust won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf under an inspired Frankie ride on Santa Anita's firm tight oval last backend, and she ran well in defeat in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes last time. It might not be quite quick enough underfoot for her to show her absolute best in a race where anything shy of that will likely not suffice.

Others to consider in a very, very good race are Nezwaah, winner of the G1 Pretty Polly last time; and the unexposed Wuheida, a juvenile G1 winner from just two starts who should come on for her seasonal reappearance when second in the G1 Falmouth.

SOFT: Plenty yet to face such testing conditions, but the selection, Shutter Speed, is two from two on soft. She won't be beaten by the ground.


4.10 Nursery Handicap (7f, 2yo, Class 2)

Well this really is too difficult. Eighteen juveniles, most of them handicap first timers, many of them stretching out to seven panels for the first time. Yikes. Billesdon Brook and Barbarianatthegate are both low drawn fast starters with solid form at the trip. They are probably not good enough, but they are favoured by conditions in a race where luck often plays the major part, the ability spectrum tending to be rather narrow.

Billesdon Brook was a six length winner on the Kempton poly before a neck third in a Listed contest at Sandown, both over seven furlongs. Barbarianatthegate has yet to win in four starts but has been second in his last two and will likely lead the field for as long as he's able. On day one, at time of writing, that's been all the way home for a couple of winners.

Mark Johnston has won two of the last three renewals and this time saddles a trio: Poetic Steps, Poet's Prince and Starlight Mystery. Poetic Steps is another low drawn pace angle who brings an unbeaten record to the table. Her form has worked out pretty well, albeit at an average level, and she looks stable second pick on jockey bookings.

First choice, and the mount of Silvestre de Sousa, is probably Starlight Mystery. Consistent before being predictably outpointed in the Albany at Royal Ascot (she was sent off at 50/1), she missed the break on her first attempt at both handicap company and seven furlongs at Newmarket last time behind the re-opposing Tangled. That form is not good enough but it is noteworthy that champion-elect, SdS, chooses her of the Always Tryumvirate.

Poet's Prince makes up the three, winning at the third time of asking when stepped up to this trip last time. That form is pretty hard to quantify but we can say that the son of Poet's Voice (how did you guess?) relished the additional yardage at Ayr. No prices at time of writing but I'd not be afraid to risk a shekel in his direction.

TANGLED has gone up eleven pounds for winning that Newmarket nursery, and he deserved to. Unexposed and looking a likely sort according to my paddock expert, Hugh Fowler, he fair bolted up by more than three lengths in a dozen-strong field. Ryan Moore takes over from Sean Levey and a robust attempt to double up is expected.

SOFT: Poetic Steps and Jedi Master have both won on soft, while many of the remainder have yet to encounter it.


4.45 Fillies' Maiden (7f, 2yo, Class 2)

A remarkably shallow Class 2 maiden for the money - over sixteen grand to the winner - and it will likely be Ballydoyle's MAGICAL who takes it. Well, 'the lads' need every penny they can get, don't they? This daughter of, you guessed it, Galileo is out of Halfway To Heaven, who was a triple Group 1 winner in 2008. That makes her a full sister to the smart Fillies' Mile winner, Rhododendron, and the classiest pedigree in this pack by some margin.


5.20 Handicap (5f, 3yo, Class 3)

A really tricky sprint handicap to close with a stack of in-form flyers crossing swords. The eye is drawn to Michael Dods' Intense Romance, for whom it will have been a long trip south from County Durham. This filly has won three of her last five starts, all over five furlongs, most recently at Ascot. She was well on top at the line there and races prominently as a rule.

There is however a ton of pace in the field, with all of Carlton Frankie, Merry Banter, Fethiye Boy, Quench Dolly and Maakaasib habitual trailblazers. That earns this race the rare distinction on our pace tab of 'Possible Pace Collapse', as can be seen:

So. Much. Speed. This could fall apart...

So. Much. Speed. This could fall apart...

It ought to be the case that at least a few of the jockeys decide to take a different approach to avoid the potential melting pot on the front end, but I'll be siding with a deep closer even on this speed-favouring strip. That could be the aforementioned Intense Romance, who is versatile as regards run style, or perhaps EVERGATE, whose form at five furlongs is 221, the most recent brace of runs in higher class. He stays six well meaning no fears about travelling through wilting horses.

Very difficult heat, but there are solid grounds for opposing the speed even if it does somehow hold up.

SOFT: Megan Lily could enter calculations on a soft surface. She's a winner on that turf and is likely to be played later, off the speed.


Good luck!


Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day Two Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Wednesday Preview and Tips

The second of five days on the Downs is highlighted by arguably the race of the week, the Sussex Stakes, a mile Group 1 that sees the three-year-olds take on their older counterparts.

The action commences with a marathon handicap at ten-to-two...

STOP PRESS: Due to a forecast of torrential rain for most of the day, I've added some horses that might be suited by soft ground to the bottom of the previews.

1.50 Goodwood Stakes (Handicap) (2m4 1/2f, 4yo+, Class 2)

First, a reminder that you can view trends information for the Day 2 card here. A couple of interesting lines from there which could help reduce the eighteen-strong field are that all of the last fifteen winners were aged seven or younger; all bar two winners in that time had three or more seasonal runs; and, all bar three had won over at least 1m6f on the flat.

A good chance we've eliminated the winner from the ten who fail to match those criteria, but if we haven't it's a more manageable octet which remain: Akavit, Aurora Gray, Denmead, Frederic, Hawkerland, October Storm, Percy Veer, and Sunblazer.

Frederic (16/1) looks a likely sort. A 120+ hurdler for Micky Hammond, he's now in the care of Keith Dalgleish, having also seen service for the Cumani (flat) and McCain (jumps) yards. In three spins for his current 'employer', the six-year-old son of Zamindar has won twice at trips just north of two miles and progressed from a flat rating of 72 to 88. He was beaten last time, by the re-opposing Akavit and Aurora Gray, and is now better off at the weights with both, though neither of that pair can be readily discounted. As a hurdle winner over further he should have no problems with the trip, and he may not be done improving on the level just yet.

Mick Channon's October Storm (14/1) sneaks in at the bottom of the weights. He has some solid course form at up to two miles, and has contested decent races since staying on over two miles here three starts back. His regular pilot, Graham Lee, opts for Frederic but, in Nathan Evans, he has a talented deputy.

The favourite, Hawkerland, looks short enough. Although he's won his last two easily, stepping up from eleven furlongs to two miles in the process, he now takes two further hikes - half a mile in trip and three grades in class. That's not to say he cannot overcome them, but rather that he's an unsexy price so to do.

This race is often tricky to fathom - as winners at 33/1, 20/1 and 16/1 since 2011 illustrate - so I'll take those two, Frederic and October Storm, each way against the field.

SOFT: The most interesting pair on soft ground might be Star Rider (10/1) and Cool Sky (25/1)


2.25 Handicap (1m 4f, 3yo, Class 2)

Aargh. A three-year-old handicap. Does anyone have a way of fathoming these? If so, please contact me! They are my blind spot in punting terms, and I would most likely be doing you a disservice by attempting to quantify the form.

What I can say is this: the winner here often goes on to better things, as in the case of the last two victors, Dartmouth and Dal Harraild, who both went on to be capable Cup horses. Pether's Moon won this four years ago, and he was a subsequent Coronation Cup (Group 1) winner, albeit in a sub-standard renewal.

So we're looking for a thorough stayer who could be better than demonstrated to date - most likely a later developer. One interesting observation from a cursory glance is that Dartmouth and Dal Harraild both came here off the back of a placed effort in the same Ascot handicap three weeks prior. One who was placed in what I presume to be the same race this year is Galactic Prince. A bit free there, he should settle better in this bigger field and is only two pounds higher. He gets weight from all his rivals, and is a 16/1 chance.

There are lots of more obvious contenders, one of which will probably win. Caveat emptor, as ever!

SOFT: The selection acts well on soft and remains the (very tentative) selection.


3.00 Molecomb Stakes (5f, 2yo, Group 3)

A ferociously fast five furlongs contested by juveniles just below top class, as befits its Group 3 status.

Havana Grey, twice a winner on Sandown's straight five but well beaten in between at Ascot, heads up the home team. He is the highest rated on official figures - 109 - and has some margin over Sound And Silence and Invincible Army in a shallow looking renewal.

Karl Burke's grey son of Havana Gold is bound to run well, but he'll probably have to improve to catch the flying HAPPY LIKE A FOOL. Wesley Ward's filly was expected to be his banker of the whole Royal Ascot meeting, but had no answer to Heartache's persistent fleet-footedness. On this easier track, where most of the last half mile is downhill, her stamina ought to come under less scrutiny than at Ascot and, if in the same mood, she'll take the beating, though 11/4 tempers enthusiasm somewhat. I expected her to be a point shorter, so perhaps not all has gone to plan in her preparation.

Invincible Army is dropped back to five furlongs for the first time after a two and a half length beating by Cardsharp in the Group 2 July Stakes. It's possible he was just not good enough there rather than that he didn't quite see out the trip, and he may struggle to go the pace across this fast five.

Sound And Silence however probably did fail to see out the sixth furlong on his first try at the longer range last time, in the same race as Invincible Army. Previously he'd looked very good in winning twice over the minimum either side of a poor run at Sandown when found to be 'wrong' afterwards. Charlie Appleby's Exceed And Excel colt was a good winner of the 22 runner Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on his previous five furlong start, and 10/1 each way seems pretty fair.

Ryan Moore was due to ride Battle Of Jericho for 'the lads' and that alone would have ensured this chap went off far shorter than his current 16/1 quote. But Mike Smith is not now traveling for the favourite, so Ryan gets the plum spare. Nevertheless, BoJ was a winner over six furlongs last time at Leopardstown, though he was fading towards the finish; he could improve for a first try at the minimum. He's certainly got plenty of early dash and may reward each way support.

But I think the favourite will probably win if she's trained okay.

SOFT: Only Denaar (16/1) has won on a soft surface to date, most of the others not having tried it yet.


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3.35 Sussex Stakes (1m, Group 1)

Nine go to post, but this looks like the latest incarnation of the 'Duel On The Downs', this time between dual Guineas winner, Churchill, and the highest rated horse in Britain (at least until Enable's King George figure of 126 was published), Ribchester.

Typically in this race, it is the three-year-old - getting seven pounds weight for age - who usurps the older horse(s), but there are reasons to believe that will not be the case this time.

RIBCHESTER (11/10) is obviously very, very good, as he proved when completing the Lockinge/Queen Anne Group 1 double. Nicely rested since, he comes here a fresh horse and one which may still be marginally on the upgrade. He was only third in this last year but has improved eight pounds according to official figures since then. And, whisper it, he probably should have won that day anyway, given plenty to do and failing by a half length to do it.

Conversely, Churchill comes here off the back of an inexplicably poor effort in the St James's Palace Stakes. Having won seven in a row up to that point, including four straight Group 1's, he could only manage fourth behind Barney Roy at Royal Ascot. He had appeared to still be improving prior to the poor effort at Ascot, but has questions to answer now. It may have been the extreme heat that day; indeed connections will be hoping it was because nothing else came to light to excuse him. Though I respect his level of form, especially with the weight allowance, there is not much in his quote to reflect that last day doubt.

Of the rest, French raider Zelzal is next in the betting, the only other runner at single figure odds. He's pretty good, as he showed when winning the G1 Prix Jean Prat last summer; but he has done all of his racing to date at Deauville (two runs) and Chantilly (five). This maiden voyage outside of France, to a notably quirky track, could see him out of his comfort zone. At least it is easy enough to overlook his prep race last time, when he might have won in any case but for a Benoist clanger.

Lancaster Bomber might be a more interesting each way play if not doing too much in the pace-pressing stakes early on. He showed courage and no little class when hanging tough to take silver behind Barney Roy at Ascot, and may again prove difficult to budge from his prominent placement in the closing yards. 28/1 in a place understates his merit.

It is difficult to make a case for the remainder, all older horses, none convincing as Group 1 class.

SOFT: Ribchester is two from two on soft. At huge prices, Lightning Spear (22/1) and Here Comes When (80/1) both have form with the mud flying.


4.10 Fillies' Maiden (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

Tea break.

I've nothing to add here, with the possible exception of noting that Ryan Moore rides Lamya (9/2) for Richard Hannon. She did best of the trio engaged here that raced behind Spring Cosmos in a similar heat at Newmarket's July meeting, and she ought to be sharper for that run.

SOFT: Mushahadaat (11/4 fav), Pullitzer (16/1) and Naqaawa (25/1) are by sires whose progeny typically fair all right on soft ground at two.


4.45 Fillies' Handicap (1m2f, Class 2)

A very competitive race and one which is too difficult for me. But the top weight, Skiffle, could be interesting. She's been beaten far enough recently, albeit in Pattern class, but was good enough to win the Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes over course and distance last May. So, no fears about race conditions - weight to be carried aside - but she does have to step back to something like her best. No odds are available at time of writing, and the price would justify the play: 12/1 or better would make her of mild interest.

In truth, this is a bugger of a placepot final leg, and my wagering involvement will be limited to that assuming I've been good/lucky enough to get this far.

SOFT: Indulged (7/1) won on heavy last time and has form on soft as well.


5.50 Handicap (7f, Class 3)

65 minutes after the fillies' handicap is a seven furlong handicap for all-comers. Why so long? Because, of course, the sponsors want an Arab race in the proceedings. Sigh. Anyhoo... high draws have struggled in the really big fields over seven furlongs, and my two against the field are Medburn Dream and Sun Lover.

Medburn Dream (11/1) has been a fine servant for Paul Henderson, winning five of his 21 career starts all on the soft side of good prior to a blitzing of his field on good to firm two starts back. He won by a heavily eased nine lengths there before running better than his finishing position implied at Windsor in a better race than this most recently. Trap nine is not ideal to make the pace, but with only Ifwecan (13) and Easy Tiger (15) expected to challenge for that honour, he should be able to race in his favoured prominent position and will be close enough if good enough, as they say.

Roger Varian saddles 5/1 chance, SUN LOVER, and gets the inside draw to boot. Andrea Atzeni will be able to choose his position atop his versatile conveyance, and will most likely sit handy ready to pounce. The danger of such an approach in a big field is getting boxed in so the wily Italian will need to keep an eye on the wing mirrors as they turn into the straight and quicken down the hill. Sun Lover has proved a touch tricky to win with, finishing second in three of his last four starts, but he's a strong traveller who should hopefully get the run of the race.

Of the rest, Cenotaph is an interesting Aidan O'Brien handicap runner, in the less familiar colours of Mrs Doreen Tabor. How happy she must be to have a 90-rated 'capper while hubby drowns in Group 1 stock! Anyway, be that as it may, Cenotaph has won no more than an apprentice maiden from nine starts to date, and has a tough post in stall 18 to overcome, too. 10/1 fails to raise the pulse, all things considered. (Cue easy victory...)

SOFT: Medburn Dream acts well on soft as mentioned, and Sinfonietta is a fancied runner who likes some cut.


And that's Day Two. Should be some excellent racing, though winners may be hard to come by.

Glorious Goodwood 2017: Day One Preview, Tips

Glorious Goodwood is upon us once more and, in spite of it now being officially called the Qatar Goodwood Festival, that's the last you'll hear of the Emirati empire-builder's monicker here. So yes, Glorious Goodwood. And, oh boy is this a glorious week of racing.

The setting, betwixt rolling downs and the sea, is spectacular: perhaps the best in the land. The racing is generally high class and competitive. Winners are unsurprisingly to be cherished, by punters almost as much as owners. Over five days, we will be offered 35 wagering puzzles, starting with a septet of head-scratchers on Tuesday, day one.

Some trends for Day One of Glorious Goodwood can be found here. Current expectation for day one is that the ground will be drying out from good to soft towards good.

1.50 Handicap (1m2f, Class 2)

The customary big-field opener - eighteen runners scheduled to face the starter - and incredibly Mark Johnston, winner of this six times this century, does not saddle any of them. Struggling as I am to acknowledge the new sponsor, it would be remiss not to think that horses running in Qatari silks this week will be expected to perform well.

In that context, Abdon, whose last run was a sighter over course and distance in higher grade, should be considered. Dropping down into handicap company for the first time since a class and distance victory on fast ground at Haydock, he's trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Trip and ground look ideal for Roger Varian's Uae Prince, too, with this son of Sea The Stars racing off the same mark from which he was a length fourth in the John Smith's Cup at York a fortnight ago. As a prominent racer generally, a draw in 15 is not ideal, but no doubt Andrea Atzeni will do what is needed to either tack across or take back.

Garcia was only just behing Uae Prince in that York contest and was running on eye-catchingly. But this easier track may not be what Richard Fahey's fellow wants so he may again be finishing too late. Ryan Moore keeps the ride.

A place and a length behind Garcia was Eddystone Rock. John Best's five-year-old got a little tight for room at one point and has racked up a consistent string of efforts in competitive handicaps. He's a bit of value at around 16/1 (bet365), and UAE PRINCE (7/1) looks quite likely to run well.

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Paddy are 1/5 FIVE places.


2.25 Vintage Stakes Preview, Tips (7f, 2yo, Group 2)

The first Group race of the week is a test of speed and stamina for two-year-olds. Having not had much to crow about from nine runners up to 2008, Aidan O'Brien began to patronise this heat again in 2014. His two runners in the last three years have both won, and included the tough and smart Highland Reel. The bid for a recent hat-trick rests with Seahenge for 'the lads'.

One of just three (from 39) Ballydoyle juveniles to win on debut this year - the other pair included Chesham Stakes winner, September - that offers a clue as to Seahenge's precocity. He was, like most of his peers, held up and given something of an education that day, yet still had enough to come through under hands and heels. It's likely he didn't beat a whole lot but he will improve plenty for that experience and should relish the extra furlong.

That quiet opening run approach has long been the modus operandi of Sir Michael Stoute, and he saddles his only juvenile debut winner of 2017 - from just nine juvies to race this year - in the shape of Expert Eye. The well beaten third and fourth from that seven furlong Newmarket maiden have both won their only starts since, giving the form a solid look.

Mark Johnston runs two-from-two Mildenberger, who won his most recent start by five lengths. But Johnston has saddled eleven losers since his back-to-back victories with the smart pair, Lucky Story and Shamardal.

French raider, Cold Stare, was a Listed winner over this trip last time out, and is an interesting runner; but I expect SEAHENGE (5/2) to take a lot of beating.

bet365 are paying A QUARTER THE ODDS 1-2-3


3.00 Lennox Stakes Preview, Tips (7f, Group 2)

The same grade and trip, this time for older horses, and a field of fifteen which includes four Godolphin runners for four different trainers.

The market is co-headed by LIMATO, a dual Group 1 winner, including over seven furlongs. Although still searching for a first win of the campaign, Henry Candy's five-year-old has made the frame in his last two starts, both in Group 1's at the shorter six furlong range. He has looked like the step up might be what he needs now, and Limato appeals as a win bet at 4/1 (bet365), looking very likely be on the premises. [NB Now top priced 10/3, which is about right in my view.]

Librisa Breeze is the other joint-favourite: he is a dual winner over seven furlongs, both at Ascot, and has also won over further. This lesser test of stamina is not expected to suit and he will probably be running on late - too late - at the finish.

From the Godolphin quartet, the most interesting pair may be Home Of The Brave and Dutch Connection. The former is unbeaten in two starts this term, and steps up again after wins in Listed and Group 3 company. Stall one will aid his front-running style, but he's never won above G3 level, however, and this looks a hot contest for a Group 2.

Dutch Connection is a seven furlong specialist. His record at the distance reads 1131216, a string which includes a win and a second in this in the last years. He was below par at the Curragh last time but that mooted as a prep for his Lennox defence, and I like his chance, each way, especially at a tasty 12/1 (Ladbrokes).

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3.35 Goodwood Cup Preview, Tips (2m, Group 1)

A big field of sixteen for the Group 1 centre piece of day one, the Goodwood Cup, run over the marathon trip of two miles. Despite the large field, BIG ORANGE is a shade of odds on in the absence of recent foe, Order Of St George. Michael Bell's six-year-old son of Duke Of Marmalade has continued to blossom this term winning both the Group 3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown and the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in an epic tussle.

He is also the reigning champion in this event, having won it for the last two years, thus he attempts to match the record of the great Double Trigger in winning a third Goodwood Cup.

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While I'm unexcited by his price, it is not the wrong price. He has elevated to a career high perch of 121 with the official handicapper, comes here in terrific form, and is known to relish conditions. If there is a fly in the ointment, and a reason not to pile in at 10/11, it is the prospect of a contested pace. Big Orange likes to lead. In this field, so too do High Jinx, and Oriental Fox. It probably won't stop Frankie Dettori, back from injury and reacquainting himself after James Doyle deputised the last day, from controlling the fractions, nor from winning the race.

Nearer the time there may be 'without the favourite' betting and here I'd be somewhat interested in the price of US Army Ranger. He was waited with to get the trip in the 2m6f Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting, and stayed on well to take third there. He's been a hard horse with which to win - losing run stretches to eight races now - but the first of those was when runner up in last year's Derby: he clearly has class.

In truth, it's a shallow looking affair. Apart from the above pair, perhaps the most interesting of the remainder may be the three-year-old Stradivarius. Andrea Atzeni got a great tune out of him (groan) in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot and he looks nicely progressive. With the near stone in weight for age he receives from all bar fellow 3yo Desert Skyline and the mare Sweet Selection, he could continue his upward trajectory and demonstrate he stays this far by making the frame.

bet365 are paying A QUARTER THE ODDS 1-2-3


4.10 Maiden (6f, 2yo, Class 2)

Tea break.

More helpfully, perhaps, I can tell you that in the last five years, Richard Hannon Jr. has saddled five two-year-old maiden winners here in July and August from 43 starters. He's notched a 30% place rate which is reasonable, though as you see he does fire a lot of bullets: in this race his gun is loaded with three.

For the sponsors, Frankie rides Algam, who was second on his only start in an Epsom maiden over seven furlongs. He steps back an eighth here and will probably encounter slightly quicker ground. The similarities of Epsom's chaotic camber to Goodwood's own helter-skelter mean that initial outing will have clued the son of Kodiac up to what he'll encounter on the Downs. Nothing from the Epsom race has run since so it's tricky to peg the form.

But the one I'm betting is REBEL STREAK, under geegeez-sponsored jockey, David Probert. He was murdered in a Class 3 Ascot novice last time out, coming between converging horses and would surely have won if not for taking back alarmingly as a result of the incident. That form looks good with both the fifth and seventh winning their sole starts since, from only three horses to run again. He's 11/2 on the opening show with Paddy and Betfair Sports, if you can get on with them. Sadly I can't so will have to see what else manifests.

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4.45 Handicap (5f, 4yo+, Class 2)

The first cavarly charge of the week. Exposed handicappers comprise the field - no runners younger than four - and there could be a bias towards low drawn waited with types in a field this size. That would bring in last year's winner, Boom The Groom, who has slipped back to a mark of 102. He won off 98 twelve months ago and followed up in a similar race at York from the same figure as he contests this. Conditions clearly suit and he is tempting at odds of 9/1.

The one they will probably have to catch is Amomentofmadness. Charlie Hills' runner is consistent and should lead into the final furlong before perhaps giving best. He ought at least to offer a run for your money.

And what of the remarkable Pettochside? Ten runs at Goodwood have yielded nine placed finishes, three of them wins. That trio of triumphs were all recorded on soft turf, however, making the drying ground a concern; and they were all over six furlongs. John Bridger's season ticker holder should again trouble the judge.

One trainer who loves getting winners at this meeting is Amanda Perrett. Based locally at Pulborough, she runs the ex-Johnny Murtagh-trained Kasbah, narrowly denied at Sandown last time out and now five pounds below his last winning mark. He'd prefer to hear his hooves rattle, however, and may have to wait a tad longer before returning to the winners' enclosure.

Vibrant Chords, who beat Amomentofmadness over course and distance two starts back, and Dark Shot, third in that race, are others to consider in a typically open sprint handicap.

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5.15 Fillies' Handicap (1m, 3yo+, Class 3)

A low draw and a prominent run style usually gets you in the mix in big field handicaps over a mile and that's the approach I'm taking with this one. Two fillies fit the bill, Lincoln Rocks and Darkroom Angel.

The former, as the only four-year-old on the field gets to carry plenty of weight. But she's fast from the stalls, is drawn in trap three, and had held her form very well including when claiming a Listed contest two runs back. Although vulnerable to a more lightly-weighted, less exposed filly, she will give backers a run at least at around 16/1.

Darkroom Angel, meanwhile, has the inside post and has won over these undulations earlier in the year. That was over ten furlongs on quicker turf, but if she can travel off the slighter faster tempo she won't want for stamina at the business end. She's 40/1 which suggests she's probably out of her depth.

Roger Varian's Shenanigans (12/1) splits the trailblazers in stall two. Her prominent running style should mean she can slipstream the above pair and challenge in the closing stages if good enough. Unexposed on turf - just two placed runs to date - she can continue Varian's excellent recent form (24% winners, 57% placed, in July).

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And that's Tuesday. A tricky card, but a few playable at the prices. Good luck whatever you fancy. Even if you're winner-free on day one, there will be 28 further chances to put that right before the week is out!


Glorious Goodwood Trends: DAY TWO (Weds 2nd Aug 2017)

It's panama hats, pimms, plus strawberries and cream galore at the start of August with the 5-day Glorious Goodwood Meeting (Tues 1st to Sat 5th Aug). As always, the West Sussex track can expect monster crowds throughout the week with a whole host of top-notch contests each day for punters to get stuck into.

So, we'll be on-hand throughout the whole meeting to take you through the key trends for each day’s LIVE ITV races.

We get going on Day TWO with four LIVE ITV races, including the Molecomb Stakes, plus the Group One Sussex Stakes which is set-up to be a fascinating clash between recent Queen Anne Stakes winner - Ribchester and this season's 2,000 Guineas winner - Churchill.


DAY TWO - Wednesday 2nd August 2017


1.50 – Matchbook Betting Exchange Goodwood Stakes (Handicap) Cl2 2m5f ITV

15/15 – Aged 7 or younger
13/15 – Had 3+ runs already that season
12/15 – Had won over at least 1m6f on the flat
10/15 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
10/15 – Had won over at least 2m on the flat
9/15 – Had run at Goodwood before
8/15 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
8/15 – Placed favourites
7/15 – Carried 9-0 or more
5/15 – Won last time out
4/15 – Ran at Royal Ascot last time out
4/15 – Winning favourites
2/15 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
2/15 – Ridden by Paul Hanagan
2/15 – Trained by Mark Johnston
Star Rider (11/1) won the race 12 months ago
3 of the last 6 winners came from stall 20
8 of the last 11 winners came from a double-figure stall
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 14/1

2.25 – The Better Odds with Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Stakes Cl2 1m4f ITV

13/13 – Had raced within the last 5 weeks
11/13 – Placed in the top 3 in their last race
10/13 – Winning favourites
9/13 – Rated between 85-93
8/13 – Carried 8-13 or less in weight
8/13 – Won over 1m4f previously
6/13 – Came from outside the top 3 in the market
5/13 – Won their last race
4/13 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
3/13 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
2/13 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/13– Trained by Mark Johnston
1/13 – Favourites
Dal Harraild (5/1) won the race 12 months ago
8 of the last 11 winners came from stall 10 or lower
Horses from stall 10 have won 2 of the last 11 runnings
The average winning SP in the last 10 running is 8/1


3.00 – The Bombay Sapphire Molecomb Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 5f ITV

13/15 – Had won over 5f before
12/15 – Had won between 1-2 times before
12/15 – Had run within the last 4 weeks
12/15 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
10/15 – Finished in the top 2 last time out
10/15 – Winning distance – 1 lengths or less
10/15 – Foaled in either Feb or March
10/15 – Favourites that finished in the top 4
8/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
7/15 – Won last time out
4/15 – Winning favourites
3/15 – Trained by Richard Hannon
2/15 – Trained by Mick Channon
2/15 – Trained by William Haggas
Horse from stall 1 has finished in the top 3 in 6 of the last 8 runnings
Yalta (8/1) won the race 12 months ago
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 11/2

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3.35 – Qatar Sussex Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) Cl1 1m ITV

16/16 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
14/16 – Returned 9/2 or shorter in the betting
14/16 – Won over 1m before
13/16 – Had won 4 or more times during their career
12/16 – Ran at Royal Ascot last time out
11/16 – Had 4 or more previous runs that season
11/16 – Has Won a Group One previously
10/16 – Winning favourites
9/16 – Aged 3 years-old
4/16 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/16 – Aged 4 years-old
3/16 – Trained by Richard Hannon
Just 1 winner from stall 1 in the last 11 runnings
7 of the last 11 winners came from stalls 3-5 (inc)
The Gurkha (1st 11/8 fav) won the race 12 months ago
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 15/8



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Trainers Quotes



Royal Ascot – A Stunning Success

Royal Ascot delivered on so many levels, with thrilling finishes, heroic performances, and a few shock defeats along the way. Ballydoyle and Godolphin flexed their muscles and again proved dominant, whilst Wes Ward, James Fanshawe and Michael Bell landed their own outstanding victories during a truly glorious Royal meeting.

Richard Fahey and Team Godolphin, got the ball rolling, with success for Ribchester in the opening Queen Anne Stakes. He’d comfortably taken the Lockinge in May, and was duly sent-off favourite to confirm his status as top-miler. Mutakayyef came with a promising challenge late-on, but when asked for maximum effort by pilot William Buick, Ribchester found plenty to finish more than a length to the good. “He’s an exceptional miler,” proclaimed the thrilled jockey.

Another useful Godolphin miler is three-year-old Barney Roy, trained by Richard Hannon. He was tasked with reversing Guineas placings with Ballydoyle’s latest sensation Churchill. O’Brien’s dual Guineas winner was a short-priced favourite to add the St James’s Palace Stakes, though Barney was also well-backed, and a thrilling duel was anticipated. Unfortunately, an expectant crowd were to be disappointed, as Churchill put in a below-par performance, leaving Hannon’s colt to take the spoils. A hard-fought victory left connections considering a step-up in trip for the talented three-year-old, with the Eclipse a likely target.

One horse that did put-in a dazzling opening day performance, was American filly Lady Aurelia. A year earlier she had romped to victory in the Queen Mary, and Wes Ward was hoping for more of the same. She certainly didn’t disappoint, quickening clear approaching the final furlong for a three-length success. Last year’s winner Profitable, along with the Abbaye winner Marsha, were both put firmly in their place.

Another filly with a look of invincibility is Aidan O’Brien’s Winter. The dual-Guineas winner added the Coronation Stakes with the minimum of fuss, and though she’s been busy, her trainer hinted that the Falmouth in just a few weeks, could be the next target. She appears to be thriving for racing, and is a relaxed and powerful performer. The team will hope to get Churchill back on track, but his demise in the St James’s may have an impact on future targets for this filly. She has the potential to hold her own against the boys, should O’Brien take that route.

Ballydoyle had further major success along with a high-profile defeat, in a trio of wonderfully thrilling Royal Ascot renewals.

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Highland Reel has become a phenomenon in recent years, and his globetrotting success has taken earnings towards the six-million mark. His gutsy victory in the Prince Of Wales’s typified his qualities. Ridden prominently throughout, he forged ahead in the latter stages and fought off all-comers before stretching clear late-on. This trip looked on the short-side to me, but Highland Reel was not for passing. “He's an incredible horse. He has pace, courage, tactical speed,” said a thoroughly satisfied trainer.

With the yard’s senior citizen doing the business, it was the turn of one of the youngster stars to shine. Caravaggio did exactly that in winning a thrilling Commonwealth Cup. Godolphin provided the main challenge with the lightning quick Harry Angel, and powerful travelling Blue Point forming a dual-assault. For much of the six-furlongs O’Brien’s charge appeared to have plenty to do, and indeed approaching the two-furlong pole he looked in a spot of bother. However, his finishing burst was exceptional, and the Godolphin pair were unable to hold on.

Caravaggio is an exceptional horse, but I remain convinced that he is vulnerable at this trip, especially on a flat track. Nevertheless, it will take an exceptional performance to end his current unblemished record.

Caravaggio was the Royal meeting banker for many, but Ballydoyle had another near-certainty running in the Gold Cup. Order Of St George was defending his crown, and sent-off a short-priced favourite to do so. Turning for home, Ryan Moore had plenty of ground to make up, but would undoubtedly be confident that the favourite had time to get on top. Unfortunately for Moore and his team, Big Orange was on the front end, and with James Doyle kicking-on at the two-furlong pole, Moore and his charge were suddenly on the back-foot. Order Of St George closed to within a nose, but Big Orange refused to fold. In a stunning finish, Michael Bell’s popular stayer held on for a famous victory.

It was arguably the highlight of a terrific week, which saw so many wonderful performances at one of the World’s most famous sporting events.

Flash Harry can dash to Commonwealth Glory

Short on history, but huge on impact, the Commonwealth Cup has proved a major success at the Royal Meeting.

The Group One was introduced in 2015, and aimed at those classy three-year-olds that possessed plenty of speed, but perhaps not quite the stamina to see out a mile and thereby challenge for the St James’s Palace. It also ensured that these relatively inexperienced youngsters were not thrown in at the deep end, and forced into taking on their seniors in the Diamond Jubilee. Some argue that this has diminished the quality of the latter, though few three-year-olds had managed to capture the race in recent times, with Kingsgate Native and Art Connoisseur the only winners since the turn of the century.

Muhaarar won the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup for trainer Charlie Hills and owner Hamdan Al Maktoum. He’d finished down the field in the French Guineas, but back at six-furlongs proved a revelation. Limato and Profitable were left in his wake at Ascot in a stunning performance. He then went to Newmarket, and in a thrilling finish got up late to win the Darley July Cup. Next came a trip to France, and a stunning success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, defeating Andre Fabre’s Esoterique. He completed a scintillating campaign with victory back at Ascot on Champions Day.

Last year’s Commonwealth winner, Quiet Reflection, also came from the top-drawer. She had proved far too good for a strong field in the Sandy Lane at Haydock, romping home by more than three lengths. Sent off favourite at Royal Ascot, she swept to the front inside the final furlong to defeat Kachy and Washington DC. She then ran with great credit in the Darley July Cup, finishing third to Limato on ground that was undoubtedly too quick for her. But arguably her finest performance came back at Haydock, when thumping a strong field in the Group One Sprint Cup. Over the top by the time Champions Day came around, she remains a top-class sprinter, especially with conditions to suit.

And so to this year’s renewal, and what looks to be a thrilling clash between the ‘usual suspects’ of Godolphin and Ballydoyle.

Aidan O’Brien trains market leader, and thus far the undefeated Caravaggio. An outstanding juvenile, and impressive on seasonal debut at three, he looks to have all the attributes to become a top-class sprinter. He’s by American stallion Scat Daddy, which suggests ground conditions will prove ideal. His pedigree does hint at him being effective over further, though the team had Churchill pencilled in for the Classics at a mile. He’s a powerfully built colt, and was impressive in winning the Coventry Stakes last year, when forging clear late-on. He’ll be putting in his best work in the latter stages, and if close enough will take some holding.

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Godolphin have a dynamic duo in opposition, in the shape of Blue Point and Harry Angel. The former was also a high-class juvenile, capturing the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes, and runner-up in both the Richmond and the Middle Park. He lost out to Churchill and Lancaster Bomber on his final start last year, when looking a non-stayer at seven furlongs. His return to action in May at Ascot was impressive, when staying on strongly to beat the Clive Cox trained Harry Angel. He was in receipt of 4lbs from the runner-up that day, and I fancy those placings will be reversed.

Harry Angel then went to Haydock, and like Quiet Reflection a year earlier, scorched his way to victory in the Sandy Lane in a lightning quick time. Purchased by Godolphin, he is likely to be the biggest danger to Caravaggio, and is quite possibly a speedier colt. He’s by Dark Angel, a source of numerous top-class sprinters including Mecca’s Angel, and Lethal Force. There’s no doubting his liking of fast ground, as proved at Haydock. I fancy he’ll be streaking ahead at some point, and it will then be a case of holding off a fast finishing Caravaggio.

Bound For Nowhere is Wes Ward’s representative, and it’s impossible to dismiss anything the American runs at Royal Ascot. He’s already sent-out a pair of winners this week, though this fella is a very inexperienced racehorse, and this looks a huge ask at this stage of his career. He has just two runs under his belt, his last coming in a three-runner affair at Keeneland. He’s clearly showing enough at home to warrant an entry, but his odds of 8/1 are based on the trainer’s name rather than on-course evidence.

One that could out-run his odds is Aidan O’Brien’s second-string Intelligence Cross. On all known form, he’ll probably come-up just short. But he’s a War Front colt, and as such will likely love the track, trip and ground. He ran well in the Middle Park as a juvenile, and was staying on strongly at Navan last time, proving his well-being. He’s been outpaced at times in the past, but I’d expect him to be finishing with a rattle, and he’s currently available at 33s.

It’s a cracking renewal, and I’ll be siding with Godolphin’s Harry Angel to hold off the fast finishing Ballydoyle pair for victory. Intelligence Cross has to be the each-way punt at 33/1. Best of luck to those having a punt.

A need for Speed – Cox youngsters Shine

Clive Cox unveiled another classy sprinter yesterday at Royal Ascot, with juvenile filly Heartache scorching the turf to take the Queen Mary Stakes.

Lady Aurelia romped to victory in this race 12 months ago, and Wes Ward had the short-priced favourite once again. But Happy Like A Fool could not withstand the finishing burst from the Cox youngster, and went down by a little over two lengths.

Cox enthused: “That was very good and it means a lot to me. She's very special and she did it really well at Bath and I could not believe the time when they announced it. She's no different from the rest of mine in that they improve with their racing. We won a Listed race with her mum (Place In My Heart), so this is very special, watching it with the owners as there's all manner of people here. It's a proper achievement.”

The trainer went on: “She's easy to train, she's got a good temperament but we're not quite sure how good she is. I was a bit worried when I saw the American filly as she looked pretty awesome walking around the paddock. Adam rode her with complete confidence and he's a pretty good fellow in the saddle. These are the stars of the future and she certainly is. We'll enjoy today as she could be that good and go for the Nunthorpe.”

The victory followed on from a terrific opening day performance from Profitable in the King’s Stand, and an eye-catching run from Prince Of The Dark in the Coventry. The latter is by Lethal Force, a mighty grey, who became arguably Cox’s supreme stable inmate. He too was beaten in the Coventry Stakes as a juvenile, when finishing fourth in 2011. In 2012 he filled the same spot in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal Meeting, but as a four-year-old in 2013 Lethal Force found his niche, as a high-class sprinter.

When dropped back to six furlongs, the grey put in several stunning performances, including victory in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. He followed up with another power-packed performance to win the Darley July Cup at Newmarket, before losing out to the French heroine Moonlight Cloud in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Whether Prince Of The Dark can make such a progression over time remains to be seen, and is probably unlikely, but I for one was taken by his performance on the opening day.

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Cox certainly excels in handling such speedsters, and has another interesting contender in today’s Norfolk Stakes, with Koditime. He looked the likely winner last time at Newbury, before finding soft ground sapping his energy late-on. He’s a beautiful mover, and I fancy the fast ground and stiff Ascot five-furlong will prove ideal. He’s by Kodiac, who’s often a source of lightning fast juveniles.

On Friday attention turns to another flying machine, in Godolphin’s new-recruit, Harry Angel. Simply scintillating when storming to success in the Sandy Lane at Haydock last time, he’d previously been unable to give 4lbs to Godolphin owned Blue Point at Ascot on his seasonal return. Both are tasked with defeating Ballydoyle’s Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup. And it’s Cox that may well hold the Ace.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt remains undefeated, and was impressive in his return at Naas. He’s by Scat Daddy, and ought to appreciate the quicker ground at Ascot. But it was hard not to be mightily impressed by Harry Angel at Haydock. He has such raw speed, there’ll likely be a stage when he gets away from the pack. Whether he can keep Caravaggio at bay is the question. O’Brien’s colt is likely to be charging late-on.

It’s an intriguing renewal, and another opportunity for Clive Cox to feast at the top-table. The likes of Harry Angel, Profitable and Heartache should ensure the summer remains a sunny one for Cox and his team.

Royal Ascot 2017: Day 4 Preview, Tips

Royal Ascot 2017: Day 4 Preview, Tips

Friday at Royal Ascot is where the party really starts. London weekenders will hit the new Village Enclosure, and hit it hard. Meanwhile, on the track, there's the small matter of the Commonwealth Cup and Coronation Stakes, a pair of tasty three-year-old only Group 1's to unravel. But first, the juniors, in the...

2.30 Albany Stakes (Group 3, 6f)

21 fleet fillies will face the starter, with Jessica Harrington's Alpha Centauri a deserving favourite. She is two from two, a debut maiden on good to firm and a Listed race last time, both over six furlongs. Her trainer had a really good run from Brother Bear on Tuesday and this filly will go close granted normal luck. But she's an unexciting price so I'd rather play one each way, my dart falling on William Haggas's Ertiyad.

Haggas rattled the crossbar on Tuesday, when Headway was, well, a head away from victory in the Coventry; and he tries again here over the same trip. This filly was beaten a nose by Mrs Gallagher over the track (five furlongs, good to firm) before stepping up in trip and placing in a Haydock maiden. That was soft ground but she showed on debut that she handles faster, a run that has been franked with the third, Out Of The Flames, running the same position in the Queen Mary on Wednesday. It's a big class rise, as it is for most of her rivals, and 20/1 is a very fair each way price.

Wes and Aidan have contenders, as you'd expect: WW runs both Fairyland and Princess Peggy; Aidan saddles Clemmie, Actress and Snowflakes. The mob handed approach generally puts me off, and this case is no different, especially when I don't know much about the American fillies. The maiden, Clemmie, Ryan Moore's pick, ran a taking race on debut when third, having been in rear in a big field early. She's bred for further and it might happen a bit quick for her, but she could just be a wildcard for the 1000 Guineas (for which she currently has a 25/1 quote, that might get bigger if she's outpaced here).

Bookie specials on this race

Bet365: 1/4 1-2-3-4 plus risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Skybet: Money back as a free bet if 2nd or 3rd in this race (max £20)

Paddy: Money back as a free bet if 2nd, 3rd or 4th to SP favourite (max £25)

Betfair sports: Free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)


3.05 King Edward VII Stakes Stakes (Group 2, 1m4f)

The Ascot Derby, so some say, and always a decent race for later maturing types, in spite of only being three weeks later than Epsom. Crystal Ocean was a plunge horse for the Derby even though his trainer said before and after a creditable defeat in the Dante that he wouldn't run there. Sure enough, he didn't, but he rocks up as jolly this time. Bred to love both the trip and the ground, he looks a real contender, and a typical Sir Michael improver.

The opposition looks untypically weak, with both Permian and Sir John Lavery with much to prove after last day flops, as have the more exposed Best Solution and Khalidi. One who had a horror trip at Epsom is Salouen, and his best juvenile form - second in the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and third in the G1 Racing Post Trophy - gives him a squeak. He's 10/1 generally and that may be the best each way play in a shallow-looking heat, where most are bidding to repair damaged reputations and/or prove that they are contenders rather than pretenders for top honours during the rest of the season.

Bookie specials on this race

Bet365: 1/4 1-2-3 plus risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Betfair sports: Free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)

Skybet, Hills & Paddy 1/5 1-2-3-4


3.40 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1, 6f)

This. Is. A. Cracker. In its short history, the Commonwealth Cup has delivered spellbinding performances from first Muhaarar and then Quiet Reflection. This season the stage is set for a proper dukefest between Caravaggio and Harry Angel, and it's a tough one to call.

The market seems to think it's Caravaggio's to lose: he's even money favourite to add to his unbeaten quintet of races to date. That nap hand includes the Coventry and Phoenix Stakes last term, and the Group 3 Lacken Stakes earlier this season. Caravaggio has been winning by wide margins and seems unconcerned by the state of the ground, having won on soft, good to firm, and even the all weather at Dundalk.

But in Clive Cox's Harry Angel he has a worthy adversary. Cox, lest we forget, is a brilliant trainer of sprinters, and added to his CV in that sphere on Wednesday when Heartache took down Happy Like A Fool in the Queen Mary. Fast ground is spot on for Harry, who will be very hard to keep out of the frame and looks a banker each way multiple leg, if that's your thing.

Harry Angel was beaten on his seasonal reappearance however, by a re-opposing colt called Blue Point, also representing Godolphin. That was over this track and trip, and on this ground, so he has no questions to answer about conditions. It is simply whether he's good enough and, again, he looks solid place material in a race where the top of the market may well have the podium to themselves.

Wesley's Bound For Nowhere deserves a mention, but perhaps no more than that. He's two from two, most recently a five and a half furlong allowance race on firm turf. But that was around a turn and I just don't see him living with some very smart domestic sprinting colts.

Bookie specials on this race

Bet365: 1/4 1-2-3 plus risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Betfair sports: Free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)


4.20 Coronation Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

The smallest field of the week in all likelihood as just six fillies line up to take a swing at Winter, the impressive double 1000 Guineas winner. It was good to firm when she won at Newmarket so we know she'll handle the ground, and there's very little chance of any beaten horse from either Guineas reversing form; but perhaps one of the raiders can make things interesting.

Precieuse is well named having won the French 1000 Guineas, but she probably wants the ground slower. She is classier than most of these, at least.

And, as a sucker for Stateside action, I can't fail to mention La Coronel, who is my each way play. She loves rattling turf, is used to racing around a turn - albeit the other way as they uniformly do in America, and she too has class. Mark Casse is probably the best turf trainer in the States: he brought the filly Tepin over to win the Queen Anne Stakes last year, has won three Breeders' Cup grass races in the last two editions, and it is doubtful he has popped over for the air miles. She's 20/1 generally, which makes her attractive in the 'without' and exacta markets when those appear.

Bookie specials on this race

Your first 30 days for just £1

Bet365: Risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Betfair sports: Free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)


5.00 Queen's Vase (Group 2, 1m 6f)

Reduced from two miles to a mile and three quarters this year, it will be a slightly different test, and perhaps in time develop into a key St Leger trial. The distance change should make no difference to Time To Study, as Mark Johnston bids to improve his tremendous record in the race. He bids for a remarkable eighth success in 2017, and his Edinburgh Cup scorer is considered one of the Middleham trainer's best prospects of the week. The booking of Silvestre de Sousa is hardly a negative for this most progressive son of Motivator.

Not too far behind 'Always Trying', and catching up fast with three wins in the last four years, is Aidan O'Brien. Like Johnston, he saddles two, the pick of Ryan Moore being Belgravia. His form looks nothing special, but one has to respect connections: he'll not be a shock winner but nor will he carry my two pound fifty.

This is one of the few races where Ryan Moore has sat on the wrong one, Colm O'Donoghue winning last year aboard Sword Fighter. Seamie Heffernan takes the understudy role this time, on Wisconsin, a twice raced son of Japanese super star, Deep Impact. It's probably a mug play, but he looks to have more scope to improve, should love the ground, and could be a bit of each way value at 10/1.

The highest rated in the field is Count Octave, on 103. He's 8/1 after just three runs, the most recent of which was five lengths behind Venice Beach in the Chester Vase. He stayed on similarly to another in the race, Wings Of Eagles, and wouldn't have to have his ability to land the spoils here. 8/1 is also playable each way.

There are many who can improve for a longer trip and natural progression and I quite like Time To Study.

Bookie specials on this race

Bet365: 1/4 1-2-3 plus risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Paddy: Money back as a free bet if 2nd, 3rd or 4th to SP favourite (max £25)

Betfair sports: Free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)


5.35 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Class 2 Handicap, 1m 4f)

Borderline impossible closing placepot leg, where Wadigor - unbeaten in three - could be some way better than his current mark of 104. He's been unextended to win his three starts to date and is only eight pounds higher than when thumping an ordinary bunch (in the context of this race) on the Kempton poly. His trainer, Roger Varian, is in fine form and it often pays not to delve too deeply into the betting markets in this (last five winners 8/1 or shorter).

Around the same price, 7/1, is Sixties Groove, who Tony Stafford assures me is the bet of the week. Racing Post comment for its most recent run was, "going on finish but never threatening leaders". Hmm... Who am I to argue with the three-times newspaper naps champion tipster?

Too many more to mention in a race where I'll have the scattergun set to 'liberal smattering' on the placepot!

Bookie specials on this race

Bet365: 1/4 1-2-3-4 plus risk-free bet to same stake if you back 4/1+ winner (max £50)

Paddy: Money back as a free bet if 2nd, 3rd or 4th to SP favourite (max £25)

Betfair sports: 1/5 1-2-3-4-5 plus free bet to same stake as any 3/1+ winner you back (max £25)

Skybet 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6


There will be no Saturday Royal Ascot preview, so I hope you've enjoyed these daily thoughts, and I wish you the very best of luck with both Friday's and Saturday's Ascot puzzles.


p.s. we've also got placepot pointers and big race trends for today's and tomorrow's action. Here are the Friday posts:

Placepot Pointers for Friday

Friday Royal Ascot Big Race Trends

Click here for our free Royal Ascot stat pack

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