Sam Turner previews all the action from Saturday's bumper day of racing
Waady will probably dominate the market here on the back of his honourable fourth to Take Cover in a strongly-run Group 3 at Newbury last time. However, the likely market leader has been described as ‘mad but talented’ by connections in the past and may not be one to plough into at a short price. With that in mind SIR ROBERT CHEVAL (Best price 6-1) is offered as the each-way alternative as seven Ascot appearances have yielded figures of 7526132 and the selection ran well under similar conditions when runner-up in the Shergar Cup Dash over course and distance behind Stake Acclaim. His conqueror that day was only narrowly touched off in the rearranged Ayr Gold Cup so the form looks even more meritorious.
French Derby runner-up WALDGEIST (Best price Evens) dominates the market for this event which is understandable given his latest performance in the Irish Derby has been enhanced handsomely since. The Gallic raider is taking a sizeable drop in class following his superb effort behind Brametot and another fine display at the Curragh last time when only beaten a couple of lengths by subsequent St Leger winner Capri with Cracksman narrowly in front of him in second. Those performances are clearly a standout at Group 3 level and, although Secret Number appears to retain all his ability at the age of seven and boasts a fine record on easy ground, it will be disappointing if Waldgeist can’t grasp an excellent opportunity.
The possibility of further showers in the Berkshire area could make life a little tricky for Blue Point who has achieved the majority of his best form on a sound surface. Admittedly, Godolphin’s speedster is one of only two horses to beat Harry Angel this season, but he found the heavy ground beyond him in the Haydock Sprint Cup last month when finishing eight lengths adrift of Clive Cox’s star sprinter and a further easing of the ground could leave him a little vulnerable. Preference is for DANZENO (Best price 11-2) who boasts a series of very decent performances at Ascot and Mick Appleby’s six-year-old was only beaten a couple of lengths in the Stewards’ Cup last time. His record in Class 1 reads 1243563329202 and conditions look ideal for him to run another huge race given he was third in the Group 1 Qipco Sprint on easy ground over course and distance a couple of seasons ago.
Clifford Lee is yet to taste defeat aboard MJJACK (Best price 12-1) in two outings and the combination could complete the hat-trick today. Quite why the talented apprentice was dispensed with after partnering the three-year-old to a smooth Haydock success back in June is open to question, but his presence in the saddle today is construed as a positive and conditions look perfect for a bold show. Karl Burke’s talented handicapper was narrowly touched off over course and distance in the Cunard Handicap last time, the second time he has been narrowly beaten in strongly-run track handicaps this season. As a front-runner, he is always likely to be a shade vulnerable late on, but the track is halved in width today to preserve ground for Champions Day in three weeks and that could make life a little trickier for those that like to come from well off the pace.
RAISING SAND (Best price 12-1) may fit that criteria, but I felt connections overdid the waiting tactics last time and, although the five-year-old can be his own worst enemy from the stalls, he was arguably ridden with too much restraint behind Remarkable and Mjjack. In the circumstances, he did quite well to finish fourth from way off the pace and I can’t let him go unbacked today given his course record (2-3) and the enhanced place terms offered by some of the layers.
Bookmakers are unlikely to take much of a chance with MARIE OF LYON (Best price 9-2) here given the authority of her Pontefract victory a fortnight ago. A successful trip to Brighton precluded that rout in south Yorkshire where the daughter of Royal Applause relished the cut in the ground to dismiss a reasonable field decisively. The selection is assembling a very useful profile on an easy surface so any of the forecast showers would play to her strengths.
ALJAZZI (Best price 6-1) has had this event on her agenda for much of the season and she looks capable of troubling likely favourite Persuasive if she can reproduce the change of gear which saw her run out an impressive winner of a Sandown Group 3 last time. Held up in rear, the selection lengthened impressively when asked two furlongs out and readily put good distance between herself and Nathra who reopposes today. Aljazzi’s critics will point to her lack of Group 1 winning form as a stick to beat her with, but she was narrowly denied in an Ascot Group 2 at the Royal meeting and looks to be capable of mixing it at this level given her turn of foot.
I was fortunate to see DARKANNA (Best price 9-2) in the flesh at Newmarket last weekend and she looked a picture prior to contesting the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. She was only beaten four lengths by one of the best juvenile fillies around in Clemmie and, although it is obviously dangerous to take that level of form on trust, it was arguably no fluke performance given the selection has already finished second in a French Group 3 this summer and five lengths behind Aidan O’Brien’s star filly previously. Richard Fahey has a strong hand with seven further entries but it will be disappointing if his highly-rated filly can’t make a huge impact on this event.
FOXTROT LADY (Best price 20-1) could be worth taking a small chance with at a big price as she may prove to be nicely draw towards the far side rail for a filly that likes to race prominently. Although yet to win, Andrew Balding’s juvenile has steadily improved with each outing this term and was perhaps a shade unfortunate to bump into a smart rival in Beshaayir at Newbury last time.