The Veolia Handicap (2.20) at Ascot on Friday is run over the same straight 7 furlongs as the Totescoop6 Challenge Cup on Saturday and should provide some clues with regard to draw bias at the Berkshire track. Of course, an 18-runner handicap also provides us with a rare opportunity for a weekday ‘tilt’, so we’ve highlighted a couple that we think could belie generous starting prices by running well.
Cincuenta Pasos has never won over a mile, or on Polytrack, so his latest effort, when only twelfth of 16, beaten 8¾ lengths, behind Georgian Bay at Kempton last month, is best forgotten and his earlier form bears close inspection. The form of his previous win, over 7 furlongs on the July Course at Newmarket, has worked out well enough to suggest that a 6lb rise in the weights may not be beyond him. Talented apprentice Edward Greatrex, who won on him at Newmarket, replaces John Egan and must have a decent chance of improving his 5-14 (36%) strike rate for trainer Joseph Tuite this season.
Ogbourne Downs has yet to win over 7 furlongs, but is only 1lb higher in the weights than when edging out Starlit Cantata in a 0-90 contest, over a mile, at Bath in June, so merits consideration from a handicapping perspective alone. He ran well over course and distance, when sixth of 15, beaten 3½ lengths, behind Peril in a ladies’ race in July and, with rising star Tom Marquand taking off 3lb, another good run looks on the cards.
Selections: Ascot 2.20 Cincuenta Pasos, Ogbourne Downs
Wesley A. Ward’s 2-year-old Acapulco attempts to become the first juvenile to win the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (3.40) at York on Wednesday since Kingsgate Native in 2007 and, having justified favouritism in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, seems sure to be popular once again. However, the twice-raced daughter of Scat Daddy faces a field of race-hardened older sprinters and may be worth opposing at a very short price.
Sole Power isn’t getting any younger, but remains a force to be reckoned with at the highest level over the minimum trip and, having already won this race twice from four attempts, looks decent value at around the 8/1 in the very early price lists. Edward Lynam’s 8-year-old has yet to win on going softer than good, but finished a close third in this race on good to soft going two seasons ago, so should run his race unless the heavens open.
The Kyllachy gelding has 1½ lengths to find with Goldream and 1 length to find with Muthmir on their running in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, but his record on the Knavesmire speaks for itself and he may be able to reverse the form. Regular partner Richard Hughes has retired, but Frankie Dettori is a more than able deputy.
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Selection: York 3.40 Sole Power (8/1 generally available) to win
Run over one mile on the Rowley mile course at Newmarket, the Royal Lodge Stakes is one of the key races of the juvenile season for colts and geldings, and it usually offers plenty of clues for next years’ classics.
The Cambridgeshire venue will hold its sixth Royal Lodge renewal in late September after hosting the race initially back in 2005 due to Ascot undertaking renovations. From 2011 onwards, Newmarket has now become the permanent host for the Group 2 event. First run back in 1946 – over five furlongs – the Royal Lodge event was changed to the mile distance two years later, and was open to both horse genders until 1987 when the race became male only. Past winners include Mister Baileys (1993) who went onto claim the 2000 Guineas in the following year, Benny The Dip (1996) – who won The Derby in 1997 – and the irrepressible Frankel who began his road to racing immortality back in 2010.
There are no current ante-post markets available for the race, but in this article we will look at some of the main protagonists who could take their chance.
Of the 91 current entrants for the Royal Lodge, Irish super-trainer, Aiden O’Brien is mob-handed with 29 potential runners – so whichever he chooses to run, it will effectively be a tip in itself. Of his plethora of options, Deauville is likely to be one of his main chances. The unbeaten colt has won races at Listowel and a Group 3 race at Leopardstown, both over seven furlongs – beating the highly regarded Sanus Per Aquam on his latest start. O’Brien has trained five previous winners of the Royal Lodge Stakes, with Daddy Long Legs being his most recent victory back in 2011, and Deauville – provided he lines up – could improve that tally even further.
After an opening defeat on debut over six furlongs at York, the Hugo Palmer trained, Galileo Gold has since rattled up three wins in quick succession with a notable victory in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Recently purchased by Al Shaqab Racing, the chestnut colt took the Group 2 event with a three-quarter length win over Ibn Malik under Frankie Dettori. With four races already under his belt, Galileo Gold already has plenty of experience which would be beneficial if Palmer decides to take one of his stable stars to his local track.
Hitting the high notes
Richard Hannon has several options to choose from for his Royal Lodge contenders, and Tony Curtis could be the one to take centre stage. A winner on debut under Cam Hardie over seven furlongs at Epsom in early July, Tony Curtis then ran a creditable third, after a tardy start in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes – again over seven furlongs – at Newmarket. The Royal Lodge is an event which is yet to be won by the Hannon yard, but hopefully Tony Curtis can provide the right tune.
One and only
Platitude is the sole entrant from the Sir Michael Stoute yard, and will be hoping to emulate previous winners, Mujaazif (1990) and Desert Secret (1992). The colt was sent to Doncaster for his racecourse debut and didn’t disappoint with a length and three-quarter victory. Platitude was to taste defeat on his second – and most recent outing – in the Listed Winkfield Stakes over seven furlongs at Ascot. A second place finish behind Sixth Sense – another entrant of the Royal Lodge – but it is hoped that the step up to the mile distance could bring out further improvement for the son of Dansili.
The Bathwick Tyres St. Hugh’s Stakes (3.55), run over 5 furlongs and 34 yards and open to 2-year-old fillies only, is the feature race at Newbury on Friday. A total of 14 fillies are set to face the starter, but there are reasons to believe that the return to the minimum trip can help Kurland resume winning ways.
The Kheleyf filly took a keen hold when tried over 6 furlongs in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket five weeks ago, weakening in the final hundred yards to finish seventh of nine, beaten 4¾ lengths, behind Illuminate. However, she holds Little Voice, Pity Cash and Shaden on her previous form over 5 furlongs, when fourth of 20, beaten 6½ lengths, behind Acapulco in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and a reproduction of that performance may be good enough.
The third at Ascot, Besharah, was subsequently beaten a nose in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and won the Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes, back at Ascot, two weeks later, so the form looks strong. Officially, Kurland has 5lb to find with Whatdoiwantthatfor, but a line through Besharah suggests she may have the beating of Richard Hannon’s filly and she remains open to improvement after just three starts.
Selection: 3.55 Newbury Kurland to win