There’s a stack of decent racing to go at on Saturday, with attractive Group races at both Haydock Park and Newmarket’s July Course, bolstered by the annual competitive novelty which is Ascot’s Shergar Cup.
The latter might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the crowds seem to enjoy it, with over 30,000 turning up annually to enjoy the sport followed by a massive post-racing concert, while the riders coming from far and wide genuinely seem to love it…
Building up to this year’s event Japan’s Kenichi Ikezoe, the man who played a massive part from the saddle in the success of the legendary Orfevre, told the press: “I’ve watched racing from Ascot many times on television. It’s very popular back home, especially Royal Ascot.
“There is nothing at all like Ascot in Japan, as the tracks tend to be very flat and the ground is nearly always very fast.
“I am really looking forward to riding at Ascot on Saturay, I cannot wait.”
Meanwhile, another newcomer to Ascot is prolific South African, Gavin Lerena, who booted home a none too shabby 220 domestic winners when taking the title back home in 2015.
He said: I’m really looking forward to riding at Ascot on Saturday. It’s like a dream come true.
“I walked the course yesterday and it’s an amazing course. I am very fortunate to be riding here.”
I look forward to seeing what they and their weighing room colleagues can cook up from the vantage point of the Ascot betting ring, but for anyone seeking an investment on Satuday afternoon, it’s perhaps prudent to shop elsewhere on a day where a section of the riders have zero experience of not only the track, but also the horses they are due to partner…
With that in mind, head to Haydock for their opener, the Betfred Duke Of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Handicap (2.00pm), in which the most in-form trainer can get his day off to a sizzling start.
Thursday saw Newmarket-based William Haggas fire in winners at three separate meetings, recording a near 8/1 treble across fixtures at Brighton, Haydock and Sandown Park, and by the end of the same evening he’d struck with an astonishing 10 of his last 19 runners.
Here he prepares to unleash her Majesty The Queen’s Pick Your Choice, a lightly-raced four-year-old by Elusive Quality, in the hands of George Baker.
The Chelmsford maiden winner fluffed his lines in his first try in handicap company back in 2015, when sent off favourite at Ascot, but he reappeared after an 11 month break to score at Yarmouth in late June.
Haggas has been patient and the handicapper has been kind, raising his mark a mere three pounds for that success at the seaside venue.
He must have a cracking chance to make it two from two for the campaign.
Also at Haydock, the day’s feature rolls around at 3.45pm in the form of the
Group 3 Betfred Rose Of Lancaster, in which a combination of the introduction of blinkers and permanently-excellent Rab Havlin can see Foundation bounce back to winning ways.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the horse who won his first three starts, before tasting odds on defeat in the Racing Post Trophy back in October.
May’s Dante third was more like it, before a total disaster when plum last in the French Derby at Chantilly.
Here, in receipt of nine pounds, he takes on his elders for the first time, but the positive influence of Havlin plus the blinkers and weight allowance means John Gosden’s charge deserves another chance.
Lastly, regular readers of this column will be aware of the frustration of backing Harry Dunlop’s three-year-old, Torquay, at Lingfied Park a fortnight ago.
On Saturday evening she bids for compensation at the same venue, lining up in the 188bet Handicap (5.50pm).
Last time out she drifted like a barge and then turned in a monster performance, going down by the width of a fine coat of paint, staying on to lead after the line…
Ironically here one her two biggest dangers is trained by William Haggas, but Torquay has bags of potential on just her fifth start, and up four pounds might be able to make it second time lucky in handicaps.
Dunlop also has his string in fine form, with a brace of winners and four seconds from his last 13 efforts, and Torquay can continue the good run.
Saturday’s best bets:
2.00 Haydock – Betfred Duke Of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry Handicap – 7 Pick Your Choice (win)
3.45 Haydock – Betfred Rose Of Lancaster Stakes – 6 Foundation (win) @ 11/4 with Bet Victor
5.50 Lingfield – 188bet Handicap – 2 Torquay (win)
Posted 1 year, 7 months ago