Best bets for the horse racing Saturday 18th May 2024

After a busy couple of weeks Newbury and Newmarket are the main meetings this Saturday with the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes the race of the day. There are plenty of opportunities for bets this Saturday if you want with six meetings here in the UK, two in Ireland and plenty of international action. My fancies for Saturday follow.

Best bet for the horse racing at Newbury

The going at Newbury is good after a relatively sunny Friday and it should be fine for racing on Saturday afternoon; slight chance of a shower Saturday morning.

The 1m4f Group Three Sky Sports Racing Aston Park Stakes at 1.50 is the first race of interest to me on Saturday. Desert Hero ran better than I expected in the G.2 1m2f Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last month and the slight drop in grade and two-furlong step back up in trip all look positives for the colt who was third in the St Leger last season. He’ll be fitter today for the run, the Haggas yard is in pretty decent form and Tom Marquand is once again riding the chestnut owned by the King. I am on at Evens. King Of Conquest and Flying Honours both have questions to answer, neither having progressed as must have been expected at Moulton Paddocks so the biggest danger appears Middle Earth though I think he will definitely want further this season. Seventh in the aforementioned St Leger last year before winning a Listed heat over 1m6f at Ascot on his last start in October he also has a seven-month layoff to overcome.

The Group One mile Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes is due off at 3.35 and it looks a top-drawer renewal. Inspiral won the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois on good-soft last season, the re-opposing Big Rock second. She had to carry 3lb more than Big Rock that day as he got the three-year-old allowance but she gets the 3lb today as the only filly in the race so is 6lb better off under race conditions. Despite that win on good-soft she clearly prefers faster ground so I would imagine connections were very pleased to see the sunshine Friday. She won on debut as a two-year-old, won on seasonal debut at three taking the G.1 Coronation Stakes and was second in the G.1 Queen Anne Stakes (beaten a neck) last year on her seasonal debut at four so she clearly has no problems running well after a break. Having proved she can get a little further taking the G.1 1m2f Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf in October the straight mile here holds no fears; the main concern is perhaps her habit of missing the start but she has proved she can get away with that in the past. Big Rock is one I talked of a couple of times last season and he was rated the best miler in the world last year when trained by Christopher Head. New trainer Maurizio Guarnieri only welcomed the four-year-old to his Chantilly stables three weeks ago and has admitted he is on a steep learning curve with the horse. Last seen winning the G.1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on soft ground in October very impressively he has to be taken seriously. His second to Ace Impact in the G.1 1m2f Qatar Prix du Jockey Club last June was on good ground but he certainly appears to prefer a little give under hoof. Guarnieri was talking him up this week as you would expect but did add “I hope it will start to rain, when it rains it is normally better for us. I’m hoping Big Rock can show his class in this race and I will be doing everything in my power to make him better.” Charyn is match fit having run twice already this season winning at Doncaster and then taking the G.2 bet365 Mile at Sandown last month; Poker Face a length-and-a-quarter back in second. He’s a decent colt but has a few pounds to find on the market principals. You’d expect Big Rock to take them along and try to make every yard, the way he so impressively winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the question is for me can Inspiral stalk him before striking late? I have ultimately plumped for Inspiral at 2-1 this morning in the hope she'll pick off Big Rock late. This should be a cracker. 

The lucky last at 5.15 is the 1m2f Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes. Diamond Rain caught the eye on her belated debut over a mile at Ascot earlier this month. Slowly into stride and going right out the stalls she was held up in the last pair before making steady headway from two out and staying on strongly inside the final furlong to get up close home. Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website “William [Buick] was very impressed with Diamond Rain at Ascot and the run has certainly brought her on. This is a step up in class and should give us a steer on what kind of filly we are dealing with for the summer.” By Shamardal, the French Guineas & Derby winner, and out of multiple Group winning mare, including the G.1 Oaks, Dancing Rain, she is bred to be top-class over middle distances; all three half-siblings are winners. I am on at 100-30. Siyola is the obvious danger having made an impression winning over 1m2f on her debut last month at Sandown. 

Best bet for the horse racing at Churchill Downs

Bold Act bids for another significant prize over a mile-and-a-half when he tackles the Grade Thee 1m4f Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs due off actually 2.05 Sunday morning our time. The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old stayed on strongly through the field to capture the G.3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland in October and easily won the G.2 Dubai City Of Gold on Meydan’s Super Saturday fixture. He makes a second US appearance of 2024 after finishing third behind Silver Knott, I tipped the winner, in the G.2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland’s Spring Meeting. Florent Geroux takes over in the saddle from Frankie Dettori and this looks a good opportunity for the gelding to get off the mark for the season; especially with Silver Knott franking the form of the Keeneland race winning the G.2 Man O War Stakes last weekend (tipped on here again). Charlie Appleby said this week “The Elkhorn Stakes proved slightly frustrating for Bold Act, but he came out of the race well. We know that he loves this trip and hopefully he can get back to winning ways.” No-one has chalked-up at the time of writing so grab the best price you can when they do. 

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