1.55 – Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes (Group 3) – 7f
This should really revolve around the 2 highest rated fillies, Nemoralia (pictured) and Lumiere. There is no doubting the pair are better than this race, and it’s hard to see the race being won by any of the others. Starting with Lumiere, she was a very convincing winner in a Listed race on her penultimate start, and on that form would go very close. However, her other 2 runs this season have been poor, firstly in the 1000 Guineas where she came last, and most recently finishing 9th of 10 in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville at the end of July, which was won by the very impressive Qemah, who looks to have a great chance in the Matron Stakes on Saturday. On the other hand, Nemoralia has won 2 of her 4 starts this season, winning both a Listed race at York in May, before winning a Group 3 at York’s Ebor festival just 2 weeks ago. She proved she is a top class Group 1 filly with her 2nd to Qemah at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes, where she didn’t get her ground. On good ground, she is certainly the one to beat.
Selection: Nemoralia (NAP)
Odds: 5/6 (Betfred, Paddy Power, Betfair, Betway)
2.30 – Pepsi Max Flying Childers Stakes (Group 2) – 5f
This looks a nice renewal of this Group 2, and you can make a case for arguably all but the bottom 3 in the market. I’ll start with Yalta. This colt looked a good prospect heading to Royal Ascot, but didn’t run to his full potential finishing 8th in the Coventry, won Caravaggio, albeit a very strong Coventry. However he was a very impressive winner of the Molecomb 2 starts ago, where he beat stablemate The Last Lion (who also runs here) by 3 lengths, and I don’t see The Last Lion reversing that form. The Nunthorpe always looked too big a task, and that proved to be the case with him coming home in last. Afandem looks to be in with a chance for Hugo Palmer, with a tidy success in the Prix d’Arenberg at Chantilly last week. Palmer says he’s not done anything with him since then, and couldn’t be happier with how he is. This is obviously tougher, but he cannot be discounted. However Tis Marvellous for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby looks the one to beat. He won his maiden by 8 lengths from Silent Assassin, who went on to score in his second start. On his next start, Tis Marvellous won the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, beating the likes of Al Johrah and Prince Of Lir. A reproduction of that form should be enough to come out on top here. Yes, he finished last on his last start at Deauville, but he paid the price for trying to go with the electric pace of the outstanding Lady Aurelia, so a line can be drawn through that.
Selection: Tis Marvellous (NB)
Odds: 11/4 (General)
3.05 – Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes (Handicap) – 1m 6f 132y
Another race where plenty can be given chances, but I am going to focus on the top 2 in the market. Heading the betting is Wall of Fire for Hugo Palmer. This Canford Cliffs colt has won 3 of his 6 starts over turf, including a career best LTO when stepped up to 1m 6f to win a good 3yo handicap at York. He has been raised 8lbs for that effort, but trainer Hugo Palmer thinks that is fair, as he expects another good deal of improvement. Jo Gordon takes 3lbs off that, so the weight shouldn’t be too much of a problem. He was strong at the finish at York so the small step up in distance is not an issue, and with his progressive profile can take this. The other horse to focus on is Fabricate, who is owned by The Queen, and Ryan Moore takes the ride. This 4yo gelding has run just the 3 times this campaign, producing a solid effort each time. His most recent run was when 3rd to Muntahaa just under 2 weeks ago at Chester, so it will be interesting to see how he goes as an indicator of how strong the Muntahaa form is for the Leger, although I really don’t see anything getting the better of Idaho.
Selection: Wall of Fire
Odds: 4/1 (Bet365, BetVictor, William Hill)
3.40 – 250th Doncaster Cup (Group 2) – 2m 2f
This looks an open renewal, especially after the news late last night that the Gold Cup 2nd Mizzou does not run. I’d be surprised if any of Clever Cookie, Curbyourenthusiasm, Burmese or Sweet Selection come out on top, so I’ll focus on the other 4. An interesting runner is St Michel for Sir Mark Prescott. His form reads 42121211 this season, however they were all handicaps and is making a big step up into Group 2 company off a mark of 99. However progressive he may be, I don’t think he’ll be good enough to take the spoils here. Next up is Sheikhzayedroad, who has to be of interest to anyone who was in the Mizzou camp, as he was 3rd behind Order of St George and Mizzou in the Gold Cup, albeit 2 1/4 lengths down on Mizzou, but he did badly. He followed that up with a 3rd in the Goodwood Cup LTO behind Big Orange and Pallasator, and a repeat of those 2 performances should see this consistent 7yo go close. The favourite is now Quest For More after Mizzou’s withdrawal, who won the Lonsdale Cup at York on his last start. Despite that being strong form, he was given a very soft lead and surely that will not be the case today. Lastly, we have Clondaw Warrior for Willie Mullins. He was 2nd in this last year, and is clearly in good nick after winning the Galway Hurdle in July. He followed up with a 2nd place finish in the American St Leger to Da Big Hoss, and whilst it would be nice for Willie to get a big winner on the flat, I fear he may have to settle for 2nd or 3rd.
Selection: Sheikhzayedroad (E/W)
Odds: 15/2 (BetBright)
4.15 – Weatherbys Stallion Book Flying Scotsman Stakes (Listed) – 7f
This looks the trickiest race of the day from a punting point of view, with no less than 5 of the 7 runners defending an unbeaten record, so I will focus on those, although I would not completely write off the Frankel colt Majoris. It’s not easy to split the other 5, but I’ll start with the favourite, Taamol for Sir Michael Stoute. This colt was very green on debut at Newmarket, when he hung badly left, but overcame that to get home in front and looks to have a good chance if he manages to settle. Next up is Salsabeel for Godolphin. He has also had just the one race, making a winning debut at Yarmouth. He also ran green, but managed to beat a pair of subsequent winners. Charlie Appleby’s yard are not in the best of form recently, with just a 9% strike rate in the last fortnight, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue here, although others are preferred. One of those I prefer is Larchmont Lad. He was impressive on debut, winning by 3 1/4 lengths, and the form of that has been boosted by both Maths Prize, who has gone on to score twice, and Plant Pot Power, who has won a Newmarket nursery. I fancy him to go very close here. Next up is another Frankel colt in Senator. He is unbeaten in both of his starts to date. This is clearly much tougher than those wins, but the step up to 7f should suit, and is not without a chance here. Finally, we have Rodaini for Simon Crisford. He is 3-3 to date, and has been sent off an odds-on favourite on all 3 starts. However, he has only faced a combined 3 rivals on his last 2 starts, so it’s difficult to tell just how good the form is.
Selection: Larchmont Lad (E/W)
Odds: 6/1 (General)
4.50 – Still In The Running-FM Outsource Classified Stakes – 1m 2f 60y
Another that doesn’t look the easiest for us punters, but I’m going to focus on Khairaat, Indulged and Winterval. I’ll start with Winterval. He has only raced once this season back in May, where he finished 2nd to a 5-time winner this campaign in Ice Slice. However, it is a concern that he has had a 126-day layoff since, and although Roger Varian’s stable has been in good nick of late, I think he may need the run but could be one to look out for on his next start. Tom Queally rides Indulged for James Fanshawe, and was 6th in a decent looking Goodwood handicap behind Poet’s Word, who was 2nd in a Class 2 handicap here yesterday. However preference here goes to Khairaat, who ran out an easy winner of his Pomtefract maiden last time out at 1m, and the step up in trip should certainly suit, and he is a worthy favourite here.
Odds: 6/4 (BoyleSports, Stan James)
5.25 – Coopers Marquee Handicap – 6f 110y
A decent looking race with a couple down in class. I’ll start with the one with the highest price this time in Shore Step, who won a 6f handicap here in 2014, and won this race last year, so course form is strong. He has had a light campaign to date, is on a decent mark and looks to coming back into some sort of form. Silvestre de Sousa is in the saddle, who is desperate to keep the winners flowing in terms of the jockey’s championship, so Shore Step could go close here. The favourite here is Nuno Tristan. He has improved markedly for his new stable this year, with his best performance being his 3rd in the Stewards Sprint at Glorious Goodwood. At the prices though, I prefer Shore Step.
Selection: Shore Step (E/W) (IWAC)
Odds: 8/1 (General)