I am going up early with the weekend advice as I am on a bit of a jolly boys outing to Newmarket to celebrate my old mucker Matty turning fifty and we are on our way at daft o’clock to get over to HQ nice and early. I really do like a day on the July course and even though it might not be the best card they’ll host at Newmarket this season we’ll have a laugh plus a beer and a bet or two no doubt. If you're at HQ on Saturday, come and say hello, the beers are on Matty.
Best bet for the horse racing at Newmarket Saturday
It is an afternoon of disappointingly small fields but that may be down to the weather as much as anything else – it has been a bit warm aint it - and the going will be on the firm side despite the team at HQ watering regularly. We get underway on the July Course at 1.42 with the 7f Lettergold British EBF Restricted Maiden Fillies' Stakes. It’s a tricky start for us punters with three making debut and not a lot of form to work with. One with racecourse experience is American Belle who was third over 6½f on debut at Doncaster running-on when the penny dropped. By Starspangledbanner out of Syndicate (Dansili) she is bred to be precocious and can make her experience tell here. The yard isn’t known for two-year-olds but they might have a decent one here, I have the 11-4. Zaakara looks like one to watch with the future in mind, so Divina Grace is the one that might give the selection the most to think about here.
Kodias Sangarius caught my eye getting the allowances as a three-year-old filly in the 6f Montaz Handicap at 2.16. She is officially rated 80 so in theory is well-in under race conditions and she has been running well in defeat recently. William Buick is booked to ride, on what could be a good day for him, and the Hannon string appear in decent enough form. I think she can beat the boys and have the 100-30.
At 2.51 they face a mile for the Time Test Handicap. Koy Koy never really got in a blow in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot but this smaller field should suit better. Austrian Theory will surely try to lead every yard, actually stays a little bit further, and that can give the selection the perfect lead into the race as he appears to like to be just off the pace. On his first start for the yard of George Boughey that man William Buick is on-board on this one as well but few people have ridden as many winners here as he has and as I say I think he is in for a big day. I have the 11-8.
The race of the day at HQ is the Listed 1m4f Ric And Mary Hambro Aphrodite Fillies' Stakes at 3.22. Dirty Dozen member this season YesYes was entered but will not run and we are down to just seven runners. Eternal Pearl was second in a Listed heat at Goodwood earlier this season behind Sea Silk Road who went on to finish second in the G.1 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot. Having looked a fair performer without winning in her first three starts she got off the mark in emphatic style at Kempton last month winning a Novice Stakes by 7½ lengths. Rated 102 and getting the 11lb weight-for-age allowance she has a massive chance in this to my eyes with likely a little more to come from her yet. I have the 2-1. As a Charlie Appleby inmate my man Will is doing the steering. The other three-year-old Mukaddamah looks the danger with Technique the best of the older generation.
Some old faces are out for the 1m6f Brampton Manor Handicap at 3.57 and I am on the boy Buick again! Charging Thunder is his mount for this a consistent as the day is long staying handicapper that won’t mind hearing his hooves rattle on the dry ground and may have a little more to come yet compared to his older rivals. I expect the four-year-old to lead every yard and have happily taken 6-5 about him doing so.
At 4.31 they go over 7f for the July Course Maiden Stakes and it’s another small field with just four due to run. Sense Of Power makes his belated three-year-old debut for Charlie Appleby (yes Will Buick rides this one as well) in this having been gelded over the winter. Second in a 7f Maiden at Kempton on the Polytrack on his only start at two back in October, the form of which is working out well with six subsequent winners in the race, the team at Moulton Paddocks have been patient with this one and hopefully that can pay off. He is by Invincible Spirit and out of Boldarra, an unraced half-sister to US 1m1f turf G.2 winner Sarach and US 1m turf G.3 winner All Included, so the firm going should be fine and I think he might prove useful. I have the 6-4. Royal Parade, trained for Godolphin by the Gosden team appears the danger and is actually a shade odds-on as I write having run well in defeat recently.
The lucky last is off at 5.07 it’s the 7f Niall Kavanagh Memorial Handicap. Spoiler alert, Buick is on this one as well! Recent course and distance winner Auditor loved every yard over the seven-furlongs here last month and can take the 5lb hike in the ratings for that win in his stride. Buick rode him for that win and it’s no surprise Martyn Meade has secured his services again. I have the 9-4 and all being well will be toasting Mr Buick riding a six-timer!
Best bet for the horse racing at the Curragh
Over in the Emerald Isle we have the Juddmonte Irish Oaks weekend at the Curragh. The main event is the Group One 1m4f Juddmonte Irish Oaks at 3.35 on Saturday. Now that Emily Upjohn misses the race, reportedly the plane due to fly her over had sustained a bird strike earlier in the day, the race is a much more open looking affair now - I bet a few ante-post punters had their fingers burnt on this one. I had Magical Lagoon pencilled in as a possible each-way punt at the start of the week when Tuesday and Emily Upjohn were still in the race and that filly now looks to have a great chance. She come here following a battling victory in the G.2 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot that showed she has some class and also confirmed she stays the trip, History was back in third. With only two starts in her three-year-old campaign there is every chance she has more to offer yet. Jessica Harrington knows a thing or two and won’t have entered her for the sake of it, apparently Epsom was never in the plan it was always Ascot, then here if she proved up to it. I have the 5-4 I took Friday afternoon.
Best bet for the horse racing at Saratoga Saturday
Over the pond at Saratoga in the state of New York at 10.03pm our time they host the Grade One 1m1f Diana Stakes for Fillies & Mares on the Turf course. Charlie Appleby has sent seasoned traveller Creative Flair out for the race; she was last seen winning the G.2 Balanchine over the 1m1f trip at Meydan during the Dubai Carnival, tipped on here. I said then it wouldn't surprise me if she picks up a decent prize or two this season and she can make it two wins from two starts in 2022 in this. Mt Marmite Jamie Spencer gets the ride with the regular boys busy in the UK, hopefully they’ll do better than when last paired at Belmont Park last September. I will be looking for the best price when they go up. Charlie Appleby said on the Godolphin website this week “This has always been the target for Creative Flair after her win in Dubai and she has done everything right. She shipped from Belmont to Saratoga during the week and the guys out there are all very happy with her. A replication of her Dubai form, or even some of her form in America last year, should put her right in the mix.”
Newbury the race with no runners!
I mentioned HQ having a number of small fields, they are still doing better than Newbury where no runners have been declared for the final race on the card in an apparent boycott over prize-money. The Fillies' Novice Stakes worth £6,500 over 1m2f had attracted thirteen entries but none will run! Ralph Beckett, president of the National Trainers' Federation, had one entered but said earlier this week "Trainers have decided, it seems, that £3,500 for the winner of a novice at Newbury isn't enough for them to run. It's a Grade 1 track and it's a Saturday afternoon. I decided to declare my horse to run elsewhere and, presumably – I have no idea – because trainers are independent creatures, they have decided to take the same view. The race was originally carded to be worth £5,300 in total and Newbury added to it after the entry stage, but it clearly wasn't enough – it was too little, too late. I believe there was some correspondence from one trainer with the racecourse when the conditions were published a month ago."