Saturday Racing Preview
After a fantastic week of the racing at Royal Ascot, all eyes turn the Curragh where the feature race of the day is the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. An excellent looking card also contains the Group 2 Railway Stakes and Group 3 ARM Holding International Stakes. On a Saturday full of good racing, Newcastle plays host to a good-looking all-weather card and there is some competitive action from Newmarket.
Mares allowance could play a crucial role in Curragh opener
The first race on Irish Derby day is the a Listed contest over six furlongs. My eye was initially drawn to Make A Challenge who ran a big race in Group 2 company last time out. He has the form in the book to run a big race but must concede plenty of weight to some improving rivals. The ground may also be on the quick side for him to be seen to best effect. Teresa Mendoza 8/1 goes from the bottom of the weights and on some form lines through Soniyla, I thought she looked a nice each way bet. Soniyla has come out a run a very big race at Royal Ascot, finishing a close sixth to the likes of Dream Of Dreams, Glen Shiel and Art Power in the Diamond Jubilee. Teresa Mendoza did receive 8lbs when the pair met on her last start, but she is Officially Rated 97 and on figures, that allowance brings her right into contention. With course and distance form in the book too, I think she’ll go well at around the 8/1 mark.
Iva Feeling we could be onto one in the Fillies Handicap
Next up on the Curragh card we have a Fillies Handicap over seven furlongs where a competitive field of 16 are set to go to post. More Beautiful made quite the impression on her two-year-old debut for Ballydoyle but she hasn’t quite lived up to expectations since. A mark of 97 could be a dangerous one and this seven-furlong trip looks ideal for her. At the prices she looks a no bet to me though and I’ve sided with one at a much bigger price. Iva Feeling 25/1 was well beaten on her two-year-old debut before winning well on her next start. She was due to reappear in Group company but was a non-runner and subsequently reappeared in a Fillies Handicap two weeks ago. Iva Feeling ran no sort of race but the fact she improved so much for her first start as a two-year-old, gives me hope she will do the same at three. Connections clearly think she is a talented sort having given her that Group entry, and the handicapper dropped her 4lbs for her reappearance effort. She subsequently runs off a mark of 82 which just might be well within her reach. She’s likely to be one of the outsiders, but Iva Feeling she’ll outrun her odds!
Take on Castle Star in the Railway Stakes
The first group action on the card comes next with the Group 2 Railway Stakes over 6 furlongs. Won by the likes of Siskin, Mastercraftsman and Rock Of Gibraltar, this can often go to a very smart individual. Castle Star heads the current betting and has looked a very smart prospect in his four starts to date. He beat the reopposing Masseto in comfortable fashion on his last start but his two wins to date have both come with cut in the ground. He is unexposed and improving but I just get the feeling he is worth taking on. Dr Zempf has just the one start under his belt where he was an impressive winner over course and distance. He has come in for some early support which suggests connections like his chances, but I’m going to side with Cadamosto 11/2 for Moore and O’Brien. He was an impressive winner of a Dundalk maiden on debut before a finishing a promising fourth in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. He visually looked a little outpaced at Ascot and I think this step up in trip will really suit. He will have to reverse the form with Go Bears Go but I think extra furlong will suit Cadamosto more. This looks a competitive contest, but Cadamosto gets the vote.
High Definition can prove his class in Irish Derby
A classy field of 11 are set to go to post for this years Dubai Duty Free Group 1 Irish Derby. The English Derby form is well represented by both the second, Mojo Star, third, Hurricane Lane and fourth, Mac Swiney. All three have strong claims on the back of their runs, but they were all well beaten by Adayar. Aiden O’Brien has won 8 Irish Derby’s, including three of the last four renewals. His assault on this year’s edition consists of five runners, headed by the extremely exciting High Definition 7/4. Heading into this season, he was my idea of the Derby winner, and that opinion didn’t change after an eye catching third in the Dante. He came off the bridle early that day and made hard work of it up the straight. Despite this he stayed on strongly for pressure and shaped as if, both the run, and step up to a mile and a half would really suit. He was just over two lengths behind Hurricane Lane that day who didn’t improve as much as I thought he would for the step up in trip. I think High Definition will improve past him and with stablemates in the race, I expect this to be run at a strong pace and subsequenltly to High Definition’s staying strengths. Mac Swiney was a good fourth at Epsom and conditions came right for him on the day. With that in mind, this return to a better surface may not be to his liking and I think he may want a slightly shorter trip. Frankie Dettori is an eye-catching jockey booking for Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle but he will have improve again to make his mark in this company.
Magical Mullins can land the International Stakes
The last Group race of the day from the Curragh is the International Stakes over a mile and two furlongs. Cadillac heads the current betting for trainer Jesse Harrington and on Official Ratings and the race conditions, would look the standout pick. He hasn’t been seen since his last two-year-old start though and Jesse Harrington is currently operating at a 7% strike rate. As a result, I think it is best to take him on, and I will do so with True Self 7/2 for the Closutton maestro Willie Mullins. Willie has been in fine form on both the flat and jumps, operating at a 36% strike rate in the last two weeks. True Self landed a very valuable race at Riyadh back in February before finishing an excellent third to Helvic Dream and Broome on her last start. She finished strongly that day and will be suited by a truly run race. If Cadillac isn’t fully wound up first time out, I think True Self can land the spoils.
Honey can make it a Sweet start at Newmarket
Newmarket plays host to a good looking seven race card and the Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes over six furlongs is the first race I’ve looked at. Najat heads the current betting after an impressive debut success but it is quite easy to pick a few holes in her form. Cachet and Desert Dreamer both ran good races at Royal Ascot but as a result do face a relatively quick turnaround. Honey Sweet 10/1 was workmanlike on her debut, having to be pushed along before the majority of the field came off the bridle. She stayed on powerfully though, and despite looking a little raw, won going away. She took a far bit of pulling up that day and this extra furlong looks sure to suit. The form of that debut success has also been franked by both the second and fifth winning their next starts, and the sixth placed horse being narrowly denied next time out. Honey Sweet will encounter far better ground here which is a slight unknown but on breeding she should handle it. I think she can run a big race for Karl Burke who won this in 2015.
Haggas and Marquand can strike at HQ
2019 St Ledger winner Logician bids to get his career back on track in the Close Brothers Fred Archer Stakes next at Newmarket over a mile and a half. His last two starts have been bitterly disappointing and at 11/8 he looks a no bet once again. Nine-year-old, Desert Encounter, has been an unbelievable horse for connections over the years and looks sure to run another good race. I’ll side with Pablo Escobarr 9/2 who beat Desert Encounter off level weights last season in cosy fashion. He wasn’t at his best on his seasonal reappearance, but William Haggas is in tremendous form at the moment and Tom Marquand is fresh off the back of an 83/1 midweek hattrick! Pablo Escobar enjoys quick conditions, and if he can leave his reappearance run behind him, I think he looks a nice bet at around the 9/2 mark.
Criterion Stakes can go to Kinross
The feature race of the day from Newmarket is the Group 3 Close Brothers Criterion Stakes over seven furlongs. The betting is currently headed by Kinross 11/4 who was seriously impressive when bolting up at Haydock last time out. He came in for quite a bit of support that day and duly cruised into contention. Frankie asked him to go, and he shot clear from a few of todays reopposing rivals. I think he hit the front too soon that day, but what he did show was an immense turn of foot. He must concede 3lbs all round, but he sets the clear standard on Official Ratings and on form has both Glorious Journey and With Thanks well beaten. If there is one area for concern, it is the quick ground conditions. His most impressive performances to date have come with ease in the going description but he hasn’t had the chance to shine on good to firm. Fingers crossed he takes to it and powers clear for another win!
Chil Chil can land Group 3 honours for King Power
The Northumberland Plate takes centre stage at Newcastle, but before that we have the Group 3 William Hill Chipchase Stakes over 6 furlongs. Diligent Harry’s lifetime form figures read 1121 but it is his second to Wokingham Stakes winner Rohaan which gives him standout claims. He looks to have an excellent chance, but his price is a tad short in what looks a very competitive heat, so I have decided to take him on. Chil Chil 8/1 is a mare I’ve followed for a while now and she appears to be in exceptional form. She was a good second on seasonal reappearance before absolutely bolting up on her next start. She comfortably reversed the form with Count Otto and despite winning comfortably did plenty wrong. She took a keen hold and pulled hard through the early stages, but still cruised into contention three furlongs from home. Once asked to win her race, she shot clear and won in impressive fashion. Lord Rapscallion enhanced the form with a good fourth at Royal Ascot and I get the impression Chil Chil is an improving mare with plenty more to come. She looks a nice each way alternative to the favourite.
Course and Distance winner can outrun his odds in Northumberland Plate
The feature race of the day from Newcastle is the Northumberland Plate over a stamina sapping two miles. Trushan heads the betting and is the class angle of the race after a good reappearance and excellent Long Distance Cup win on Qipco British Champions Day. He will have to carry top weight to success and despite being extremely talented, conceding so much weight all round is going to be extremely tough. 20 runners are set to go to post, and I thought Island Brave 25/1 looked a nice each way play. His last few starts wouldn’t appear overly encouraging but he ran a good race at Ascot last time out and his December course and distance win is an excellent piece of form. Two starts back he was slowly into stride behind Stradivarius, and I subsequently believe he’s gone in a little under the radar. I’m not convinced he’s that well handicapped, but Ray Dawson’s claim brings him back down to his last winning mark and with good place terms on offer he looks a big price at 25/1.
Best of luck if you’re having a bet and enjoy the action.
By Sam Rideout
Follow me on Twitter – @TheTr17pleP