Our horse racing expert Andy Holding has six tips for today's racing, including three runners at Newbury, one at Ayr and one at Gowran.
It was always likely Aramaic was going to be a popular choice based on his dominate display at York last time out and it would be little surprise to see him land the hat trick. However, KING OF CLUBS (best price 11-2) has equally persuasive claims on the pick of his form this season and at almost twice the price of the favourite, Hughie Morrison’s colt makes the most appeal at the morning prices.
Yet to run a bad race in five starts this season, it can be argued his best performance actually came in defeat two outings ago when he finished a highly-creditable third in one of the hottest three-year-old middle-distance races of the season. Both the two ahead of him that day, Dubai Honour and Foxes Tales went on to land Group races next time and the fourth home, Highland Rocker, captured a decent handicap at Goodwood shortly after. Based on the time figure he produced that day, it was little wonder he also managed to succeed himself at Sandown last time out and with the runner-up, Victory Chimes, rubber-stamping that form line at Chester last week, the pattern of his last two races is overwhelmingly solid in the context of today’s encounter.
With the likes of Donjuan Triumphant, Brando and Nahaar winning this sought-after handicap under big weights in recent years, the trends very much point towards class horses holding sway and with GREAT AMBASSADOR (best price 5-1) the one jumping out as having the potential to be running in all the best sprint races next season, Ed Walker’s in-form performer makes plenty of appeal in probably his last chance to run in a race of this nature.
Always held in the very highest regard by his upwardly-mobile handler, the flashy chestnut has worked his way up the ladder this season thanks to a series of fine efforts in some of the best sprint handicaps and he deservedly finds himself verging on Group class with a rating of 106. Trained specifically for the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, heavy rain scuppered those plans and it was on to Glorious Goodwood to see whether he received better fortune from the weather gods in the Stewards Cup. Unfortunately for connections, the heavens opened again pre-race at the Sussex venue and left the course very much on the soft side, but despite conditions being totally against the four-year-old, he still managed to come out of the race with a huge amount of credit, finishing a close-up third and well clear of the small group that raced towards the far side. Back on fast ground at Newmarket next time, he showed his true worth with a stylish win and he subsequently went on to make light work of four useful rivals in a listed contest at York last time out. Although in an ideal world he could have done without the rain that fell here yesterday, the surface – hardly touched on the far side all week - will be nowhere near as bad as it was at Goodwood, and providing his group remain in contention by halfway, the turn of foot shown by Great Ambassador in his last two races can hopefully prove the decisive factor.
Dhadab undoubtedly has the strongest form in the book courtesy of his run behind subsequent National Stakes hero, Native Trail, at Newmarket last time out, but he hasn’t been missed in the market, whereas WINGS OF WAR (best price 11-1) and MANACCAN (best price 14-1) both appear to have been overlooked which comes as a bit of a surprise given their respective speed figures last time out.
The former may have disappointed his supporters to a degree at Kempton two weeks ago but he probably ran to a career high based on the number he posted behind Eve Lodge and considering he didn’t entirely get the rub of the green that day, his effort needs upgrading. A cracking third in the valuable sales race at York previously, Clive Cox’s colt easily came out best of those drawn high behind the useful Ever Given and with a strong run race over six-furlong appearing to be right up his street, everything looks set fair for him to outrun his odds.
The latter flies here under the radar but John Ryan’s colt could well turn out to be the joker in the pack if he can repeat the numbers his posted in victory at Newmarket last time. Well-backed to get off the mark after two promising runs, the son of Exceed and Excel made no mistake at the third time of asking and although his performance looked a routine one at first glance, the clock told a different story completely. Not only was his overall time figure very good, his final three furlongs of 34.5 was faster than the listed race won by 110-rated older horse Summerghand over the same C&D to the tune of 0.7 seconds. No surprise, therefore, to see the form upheld by the runner-up at Yarmouth on Thursday and if it weren’t for the fact this flashy chestnut is housed in a relatively small yard, there’s little doubt he’d be a much shorter price.
16:30 Gowran Park
There’s not a lot to choose between most of these fillies on the pick of their best form, but it could pay to stick to the similar race run here won by Solene Lilyette back in August and look towards ASTADASH (best price 12-1) and EMANIYA (best price 5-1) to turn around the form.
The former hasn’t got too much to find on the bare bones of what happened here 38 days ago and if you add into the equation the unstoppable form of her yard (18 winners in the last fortnight), there’s a proper case to be made for Jessica Harrington’s filly. A horse who can race up with the speed, stall one has the potential to prove somewhat of an advantage with a sound break and even though stable jockey, Shane Foley, has decided to go for Climate (only rated 81), this daughter of Zoffany may still prove the pick of the runners from the Moone barn.
The latter was a big eye-catcher in the Hurry Harriet, coming from some way off the pace to finish a never-nearer third, and she may have bettered that position with anything like a clear run in a similar contest at the Curragh last time out. Noted going as well as anything approaching the two pole at the Co Kildare venue, Dermot Weld’s inmate failed to receive any daylight for love nor money from that point onwards. Finishing full of running, she left the impression she would have had a large say in the final outcome given normal luck in running and if you are prepared to scrap her only bad run of season at Galway due to the trip and draw, she has enough strong form credentials to go close if everything falls into place this time around.