Britannia Stakes

18 Jun


Features 30 three-year-olds, the majority of which are unexposed and from top yards, for my money the Britannia Stakes is the most competitive (though not impossible) three-year-old handicap of the season. It has been a very good race for favourites, 17 of the last 24 winners could be found in the first half-dozen in the betting so this isn’t the punters’ nightmare. Many punters fall into the trap of backing a flashy, last-time-out maiden winner from a big yard but no horse with such a profile has won in 18 years ago. An emerging pattern is that the four of the last five winners won a handicap on their previous start. On the weight front, the fact that just three of the last 25 winners have carried have carried over 9st should set alarm bells ringing if you fancy one of the top weights. It has also paid to overlook horses that failed to notch up a top-four finish last time out as just two winners since 1991 did not adhere to this. So you’re looking for a horse coming into the race in top form and has a few runs under its belt and carries under 9 stone.


I’ve narrowed the field down to 8 runners. From there it’s tough to pick a winner. 6 of the 8 horses are very closely matched on form. The one that stands out the most to me is Sahaafy. He won a handicap on his last starts and races of 9 stone 1lb. I think this horse is a group calibar horse and he could be thrown in at the weights. The form of each of his runs has worked out so well. 2 runs back he was only barely beaten by Always Smile. He was very unlucky not to win that day. Always Smile was 2nd here yesterday in another 3 year old handicap. This race is a lesser version of that race though. Sahaafy could be class above these. Her last win was very eye catching. She beat Angel Vision by 5 lengths going away at the finish. It could’ve easily been 10 lengths. Angel vision previously ran 4th to Sahaafy’s stablemate Fadhiyyal, he was placed in a group 2 race here yesterday. Sahaafy’s trainer is the great Barry Hills who came out of retirement to train this horse as the former trainer, his son passed away. It would be a great win for the family if Sahaafy could win.


Sahaafy is owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he also runs Mutarakez. Paul Hanagan has the pick of the two horses be decided to ride the latter. Mutarakez’s form is not as strong as Sahaafy’s though and he has to give Sahaafy 2lbs. Mutarakez has been impressive of late though, winning 3 on the trot. He’s a good horse but I think he’s too high in the weights. Another horse I really like in here is Azraff who brings some good placed form into the race. He ran 2nd to Peacock 3 runs back, he since ran a close 2nd to the Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn. Also Azraff’s last run might bring the best piece of form into this race. He was 4th behind Time Test and Dissalusion who both run in other races today. A good showing from them would improve this one’s chances. Azraff has run into a few well handicapped horses this season and a win is certainly not out of the question here. Some of his form ties in with Sahaafy and he gets 4lbs off that one.


Of the others the Queen’s Capel Path has a chance. He brings good form into the race and is sure to be primed for this race. His run behind Mister Universe last time out was quite good but has work to do with Sahaafy on form. The Richard Hannon trained King to be has a chance, on form he should finish in front of Capel Path but might come up short at the business end. Rotherick’s 2nd to Jack Hobbs was a good run, albeit a 12 length defeat. Stavagante was back in 3rd and that has won since. He’s another who could run well but might be too high up the weights.


Of the rank outsiders in here, Crescent catches my eye. He’s trained in Qatar by a relatively unknown trainer but he used to be trained in Ireland by David Watchman. He had some top class form in Ireland. He ran 3rd in a maiden behind Tombeliane and Highland Reel. That is top form seen that Tombelaine was placed in the Irish Guineas behind Gleneagles and Highland Reel was placed in the French Oaks. He won a decent maiden at Naas after that. He then went to Qatar where he won 2 races and finished 4th behind a decent horse. His last run was in Newbury over 1 mile 2. It was that top Time Test race that Azraff was 4th in. Crescent tried to make all and faded late on into 7th. Not beaten too far my Azraff. The drop back in trip here to 1 mile is sure to suit as he’s won at that trip. The ground is sure to suit and I can’t believe the price of 125/1. Paddy Power are playing 6 places and I would not rule this one out! This is a tough race to find the winner of so I’m going to go for a few each way.


Selection: Sahaafy 10/1 & Azraff 25/1

Outsider: Crescent 125/1







Ribblesdale Stakes

18 Jun



14 of the last 16 winners of this race had won either of their last two starts and six of the last seven winners had won at Group or Listed level. So you’re looking for a horse coming into the race in top form. For me this race revolves around 1 filly and that is the Jim Bolder trained Pleascach. She brings the best form into the race, she won the Irish 1000 Guineas last time out. The form of that race has worked out well. Qualify who was 10th has since won the Epsom Oaks. On form Pleascach has the beating of most of these. She beat Curvy by 6 lengths as a 2 year old. Curvy has won 3 in a row but struggled to beat Ringside Humor in 2 of those races. Ringside Humor is trained by Jim Bolger and is not in the same league as Pleascach. The furthest Pleascach has run is 1 mile 2 and ½ furlongs. She’s going up in trip to 1 mile 4 today. Some people in the media have been saying she won’t stay but I think she will have no problem seeing out the trip. She is class above these and 8/11 is a fantastic price given what she has done.


Gretchen maybe the one to put up a fight against Pleascach. She’s 1 from 1. She won a maiden in good style over this trip and is well bred. It’s a big ask though for her to go from a maiden to a G2. Pleascach has already won a G1. The Aidan O’Brien trained Wedding Vow has yet to win a race after 4 runs but has shown a high level of form. She was 2nd to Legitisimo who went on and won the English 1000 Guineas and was 2nd to Qualify in the Epsom Oaks. Wedding Vow ran a nice race in the Oaks trial at Lingfield last time out. She is sure to stay this trip but on form has a bit to find with Pleascach like most in here. Of the others Pamona could run well. She has yet to prove she stays this trip though but her recent 3rd was very eye catching and could grab a place here. If Pleascach stays the trip she wins, simple as.


Selection: Pleascach 8/11

Outsider: Wedding Vow 14/1





Ascot Gold Cup

18 Jun



This is the longest G1 on the Flat all season and my favourite race of the week. This is a grueling test and a lot of the non stayers will be beat before turning for home. Irish horses have won 7 of the last 9 runnings of this race. The Irish trained Forgotten Rules is set to start a warm favourite for Dermot Weld having added the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan last month. He won the British Champions Series Long Distance Cup over 2 mile on this track last October. Three winners since 2007 won the Vintage Crop en route to success here. He’s unbeaten in 4 starts including a NH bumper. He won a maiden at the Galway Festival last year by half the track and did not disappoint when upped in class. His trainer thinks an awful lot of this horse and there sure is more to come. Free Eagle won at the track for Weld yesterday so the yard is in top form. The only slight doubt about Forgotten Rules is the ground. His best form has been on soft but has won twice on good ground. There is no forecast rain but the clerk of the track said the course will be watered overnight which could make the difference. He should go on the ground if firm, I think the doubts are more so about the horses future. 2 miles 4F on Firm ground can ruin a good horse. There are no real doubts about this horse and he should win.


Aidan O’Brien has a great record in this race. He won it 4 times with Yeats and twice since with Fame and Glory and Leading Light. This year Aidan runs Kingfisher who was 2nd in last years Irish Derby. The furthest race he won was over 1 mile 6F. There is a stamina doubt about him but there were doubts about his other winners staying the trip in this race too. He has 8 and a ½ lengths to find with Forgotten Rules on his run in the Vintage Crop Stakes over 1 mile 6F. He then followed that up with a win at Leopardstown. Even if he sees out the trip he still has a lot of work to do to beat a proven stayer in Forgotten Rules. Is sure to be bang there at the finish but should come up short.  


Mizzou the second favourite comes into the race in great form. He won the Sagaro Stakes over 2 mile at this track on his only run this season. That was the furthest he has run so far and he was tiring late on. I’d have my doubts about him seeing out the trip. On the form he also has a fair bit to find with Forgotten Rules. I think 5/1 is a very short price for a horse who might not stay. I couldn’t have him at all. Vent De Force is the one who I think can put up the biggest fight to Forgotten Rules. He was an unlucky 2nd behind Mizzou on this course in the Sagaro stakes. He really should of won that day. He then beat one of today’s rivals Trip to Paris at Sandown over 2 miles and ½ furlong. He made all that day and dictated the pace. He may try and do the same again today. He looks like he will improve for this trip.


Trip to Paris was staying on well at the finish behind Vent De Force but the winner was well in command. Trip to Paris has gone from strength to strength this season. He has won 3 of his last 4 races including the Chester Cup over 2 Miles 2 and ½ furlongs. He has gone up 19lbs in the ratings by doing so. This is a different kettle of fish though. He is sure to stay but I think he may be outclassed by a few in here. He and Vent De Force at both at 10/1 which is a decent e.w price for both. Simenon has a great record in staying races at this track and in this race. He was 2nd in this 2 years back and 4th in this last year. He’s 8 years old now though and is coming back from an injury. Like he did last year in this race, he will be passing the tiring non stayers late on and could reach the top 5 but I can’t see him winning. If the ground doesn’t get too hard Forgotten Rules should win this.

Selection: Forgotten Rules 5/2


Norfolk Stakes

18 Jun

King Of Rooks (Richard Hughes) wins the National Stakes Sandown 28.5.15 Pic: Edward Whitaker


Eight of the last 12 runnings have gone the way of the favourite or second-favourite. It should again this year as this race looks a two horse race. Just two Norfolk Stakes winners since 1991 had tasted defeat on their previous start so it is best to concentrate on such runners of which there will be many. Therefore, to cut the parameters further, I suggest looking to those yet to taste defeat as 14 of the last 21 winners had perfect records entering the race and six of the last nine winners arrived here with the profile of one run and one win. Also all five winners since 1997 that had run more than twice were beaten first time out. All the stats point to the Richard Hannon pair King of Rooks and Log Out Island who are 1st and 2nd in the betting.


King Of Rooks has been one of the most impressive 2 year old’s this season. He was 3rd on debut behind Steady Pace and Beeverbrook. Both of them were placed here earlier in the week. King of Rooks was a shade unlucky in that race and ran green. He then won by 6 lengths at Newbury over 6F. His most recent run at Sandown, was scintillating. He was sent to the front and there was no catching him. He beat Buratino by 5 lengths and it easily could’ve been more. Buratino has since won at Epsom by 6 lengths and won the Coventry Stakes here earlier in the week in great style. The 6th in that race at Sandown was 2nd here earlier in the week too so the form is very strong. King Of Rooks has the ground in favour and is sure to take all the beating.


Log Out Island rates as the main and only danger to King of Rooks. He has only run once and won. He beat Handytalk by 4 and ½ lengths on debut with Buratino a length back in 3rd. That form is very strong and it ties in with King of Rooks. Buratino’s following run was that 5 length defeat at the hands of King of Rooks at Sandown which could’ve been more. Handytalk was a further 2 and half length back in 4th that day. Buratino won 3 races following that. There’s not much between Log Out Island and King of Rooks on form, I’d give the edge to the latter on form. I think King Of Rooks experience will stand him in good stead though. He’s had 2 more runs and he looked the last day like he was unbeatable. This race will come down to a great speed battle of King of Rooks and Log Out Island. I think King of Rooks will be too strong.


Of the outsiders French Encore is one I like. His form like most in here is no where as good as the first two in the betting but I think he could grab a place. He showed some decent form in France and won easy on debut at Bath. He’s very speedy but lacks class though.


Selection: King Of Rooks 10/11

Outsider: French Encore 25/1







Prince of Wales Stakes

17 Jun



On of the best races of the week that includes a strong international presence. Runners from Ireland, Uk, France, Japan and Australia. The american horse California Chrome is a key absentee though. The Dermot Weld trained Free Eagle comes into the race off a long layoff. He’s only run 4 times in 2 years but when he has run he has shown top class form. He won convincingly on debut as a 2 year old and was then beaten by the future Derby winner Australia. He won a G3 on debut last season by half the track and he then ran a gallant 3rd to Noble Mission in a G1 on champions day at this track. He had today’s rival Western Hymn back in 4th. He returns to the track as a 4 year old and connections believe that he is better than ever. Has won first time up both of the last 2 seasons, so the layoff doesn’t worry me. Something tells me we haven’t seen the best of him yet and I’m sure his trainer will have him race fit. He’s my idea of the winner but he will be made fight for it.


Western Hymn has 3 and a half lengths to find with Free Eagle on form but he has been in top form this season. He could get closer to Free Eagle this time round but I can’t see him finishing in front of the Weld runner. The Grey Gatsby is a proven G1 performer. He shocked many when he beat last years Derby winner in the Irish Champion Stakes last season. He hasn’t shown that kind of form this season but based on that run he wouldn’t be far off Free Eagle. He was 2nd to yesterday’s run away winner Solow in Meydan in March. He ran an okay race last time out at the Curragh behind Al Kazeem. The winners form ties in with Free Eagle though. The Grey Gatsby is sure to come on for that run.


Of the other runners Gailo Chop is one that I really like. I think he could be the dark horse in the race. This French trained horse has got some decent form. He’s yet to win a G1. His last run did show that he had a G1 in him though. He tried to make all the running in the G1 Prix d’Ispahan which was won by yesterday’s winner Solow. He’s the only horse that has made Solow work for it and was only beaten by a length. The Grey Gatsby was beaten by 4 lengths by Solow in Meydan. That form gives the relatively unknown Gailo Chop a big shout in this. He’s also a tasty price. There is not much between most of these runners on form. Free Eagle probably is the one with the most improvement still left in him though and he’s the one I think will come out on top.


Selection: Free Eagle 3/1

Outsider: Gailo Chop 12/1


Royal Hunt Cup

17 Jun


One of the best handicaps of the flat season and as ever 30 runners go to post. Usually course form is key in this race over the straight mile. Also you are looking for a potential improver, a horse that could become group class. Drawn near a rail is also key. Horses drawn 1 to 10 and 20 to 30 usually tend to win with most of the winners coming from the high numbers. The horses that stand out are GM Hopkins, Speculative Bid, Ayaar and Munasser. They are all well handicapped and potential improvers. GM Hopkins who is drawn 11 is the one I like the most in here. Ran a decent race first time up this season in the Lincoln when it showed that he needed the run. His most recent run was in a top handicap at Newbury where he was beaten by today;s Rival Spark Plug. He was very unlucky that day though and is sure to improve on that run. His trainer John Gosdon has a great record in the race also.


Ayaar was and unlucky 5th in this race last season off 5lbs lower. Met trouble in running and finished with a flourish. Beat spark plug last time out in a good handicap at Newbury. That form ties in well with GM Hopkins who is weight best today between the 3. Ayaar is sure to have his chance from stall 1. Speculative Bid is the one they all have to beat in here. Has won all of its 3 starts this season and has gone up 22 lbs by doing so. Won the Victoria Cup at this course over 7F last time out from today’s rival Lincoln and Bronze Angel. He was going away at the finish and we’ve yet to see the best of him. Could make into a group horse by the end of the season. He’s drawn in the middle of the course though which is a disadvantage. Should be there or thereabouts.


Munasser is thrown in at the bottom of the weights and has a great draw in 26. Was well beaten last time behind Spark Plug but his previous 2nd to GM Hopkins was a great run. If he showed anything like that form he’d have a serious chance but he has a few lengths to find with GM Hopkins. Field of Dream has been placed in this race twice and won the race last year. He loves this straight track and like last year, is usually held up for a late run. He is 7lbs higher in the weights for this years race though which could catch him out. He beat Chill The Kite in this race last year and that runner is 1lb lower this year. Chill The Kite should reverse the form with Field of Dream. Both of them could very well place again at nice prices. Of the others, I like Bronze Angel who has won a good few top handicaps over the years including the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket and the Balmoral at this course. Started the year out in group races, has slowly come down the weights to get into this race. He was an eye catching 6th behind Speculative Bid last time out in the Victoria Cup, this extra furlong is sure to suit and is now 9lbs better off with that runner. If some of the up and coming horse’s miss fire in here this one could be the one to be on.


Selection: GM Hopkins 11/1

Outsider: Bronze Angel 20/1

Duke of Cambridge Stakes

17 Jun


Only 1 of 8 fillies to run in this race under a Group 1 penalty (5lb) have been placed. That would be against last years ready winner Integral, as she bids for back-to-back successes in this contest. After that win last season she beat Rizenna by 2 lengths at Newmarket in the G1 Falmouth Stakes. She gave Rizeena 9lbs and beat her fair and square by 2 lengths. She meets Rizenna on 4lbs better terms today. Integral went on and won another G1 by taking the Sun Chariot stakes over Miss France. Integral has had 1 run this season where she came 4th to Night Of Thunder in the Lockinge Stakes. Form of that race has worked out well. Night of Thunder was somewhat disappointing yesterday but this race is a lesser race compared to the Queen Anne Stakes. Even with the G1 penalty, Integral should prove very tough to beat.


On the form Rizeena has a few lengths to find with Integral but she is 3 from 3 at this track. Two of those wins came at the last 2 Royal Ascot meetings. Rizeena had 1 run this season so far. She ran poorly but she usually needs a run. She won at last years festival after a poor prep run also. On form she holds today’s rivals Euro Charline who was 4th to Solow in Meydan on its last run. This race will most likely come down to a battle between Rizeena and Integral. The latter should come out on top again though.


Of the others Lightning Storm is one at a big price that would have a major chance if she recaptured her Guineas form of last season. She finished 2nd in the English 1000 to Miss France. Euro Charline was back in 5th. On that form she wouldn’t have much to find with Integral. Lightning Storm was also 2nd in the Irish 1000 Guineas but the main thing here is that she has not run to that standard since. If she did show that form she would go very close. The fact that she hasn’t won a G1 means she also gets weight from Integral. It is a big if though. Integral comes into the race in top form and should take all the beating.


Selection: Integral 1/1

Outsider: Lightning Storm 20/1