There’s barely a below average card to be found in the UK and Ireland this weekend, with plenty of compelling action on offer. The pick of the lot though – certainly in terms of the class of runner on display – comes with the bumper eight race offering from Newbury. Headlined by the, often informative, Mill Reef Stakes, and featuring a further two Group class contests, there’s plenty for racing fans to look forward to here. Eight races to get through, and eight winners to find, so without further ado….
1:15 Racegoers Club 50th Anniversary EBF Novice Stakes (Class 4) 7f
First up we have a big field Novice contest, with 12 of the 16 runners on show making their racecourse debut. Richard Hannon’s Masaru easily sets the standard amongst the four with a run under their belt, having scored nicely on debut before finishing a slightly unlucky sixth in the big juvenile contest at York last time out. He gets a 6lb penalty for that debut success though which makes life tougher.
Frankadore catches the eye as the only Derby entry in the field, but looked a little slow on debut and preference is for an each way play on Henry Candy’s Ifton. By Iffraaj and out of a mare who won over this trip, he makes appeal on pedigree and goes for a trainer who took this in 2012 with Code Of Honour.
Tip: Ifton each way
1:45 Dubai Duty Free Handicap (Class 2) 1m2f
More big field action up next, this time for the handicappers, with 15 set to go to post for this 1m2f contest. We have two strong trends in evidence here. Firstly, nine of the past ten winners have been either three or four years of age; and secondly all bar one of these winners have carried 9st2lbs or less on the day.
Of those to fit the bill, the one we like is the Roger Varian runner, Mountain Angel. This one does hold an entry in the Cambridgeshire next week, but doesn’t look like getting in at this stage and can hopefully land this instead. Unlucky last time out over this trip at Sandown, when only getting in the clear when it was all too late, he was still only beaten ½l and gets in off an unchanged mark here.
Tip: Mountain Angel to win
2:20 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes (Group 3) 1m3f
Sir Michael Stoute’s Mirage Dancer sets a useful standard in the first Group race of the day, with the son of Frankel having scored in this grade last time out. However we just prefer another in the field.
The one we are keen on is the William Haggas runner, Young Rascal. It was only back in June this year that this son of Intello was being sent off third favourite for the Derby at Epsom. Having not run since his seventh placed effort that day, he enters this race as something of a forgotten horse. Whilst he was admittedly disappointing on the face of it at Epsom, we are always prepared to forgive a horse a poor run around those undulations. Previously he had beaten Derby runner up Dee Ex Bee in the Chester Vase, and also won his maiden over this course and distance by an easy five lengths. In receipt of the age allowance, he’s weighted to win this on ratings and looks worth chancing on his return.
2:55 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (Group 2) 6f
The feature race of the day sees the juvenile colts and geldings lock horns over 6f, with connections no doubt hoping their runners can follow in the hoof prints of the likes of Harry Angel and Ribchester who have taken this prize in the past.
This looks a really tight contest on the book, with just 1lb separating Shine So Bright, True Mason, Kessaar, The Irish Rover and Marie’s Diamond on official ratings. With three places to play for though, the one we fancy to progress past at least a couple of those runners and hit the frame is Jeremy Noseda’s, Garrus. Two from three in his career to date, he did it oh so smoothly at Newcastle last time out, looking value for a good deal more than the 4½l winning margin and is fancied to make his presence felt now up in grade.
Tip: Garrus each way
3:30 Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (Group 3) 5f
The speedballs take to the track next in the days big sprint contest. Defending champion Take Cover may be eleven years old now but showed theres life in the old dog yet when winning the Beverley Bullet two starts back. Drawn in three, he seems sure to make a bold bid from the front once again. He will likely face come competition for the lead though from the Charles Hills runner Equilateral. Equilateral was touted as the next big thing in the sprint division at the start of the season, only to then disappoint in both the Commonwealth Cup and Hackwood Stakes. A win in a three runner affair at Leicester last time out isn’t enough to convince us he’s back on track.
The one we are going to take a flyer on at a really big price is the Andrew Balding gelding, Rebel Streak. Speedily bred, being by Dark Angel and out of a mare who won at this trip, all of his wins have come over 6f, but he has gone close over this trip in the past. With plenty of pace on, there must be a danger they will cut each other’s throats up front and we fancy this three year old to be finishing as well as anything.
Tip: Rebel Streak each way
4:05 Racegoers Club 50th Anniversary EBF Novice Stakes (Class 4) 1m
Richard Hannon has had two winners and a runner up in this in the past five years, making his two entries Casting and Hemocrates of interest here. Silvestre De Sousa gets the leg up on the latter, and it is he who gets our tentative vote in a contest where the vast majority of the field are making their race course debut. Hemocrates sire, Farhh, has made a good start to life at stud, and had a few useful two year olds at around this trip last season with Dee Ex Bee and Wells Farhh Go springing to mind. That’s a good enough angle for us in what looks a tricky contest.
4:40 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap (Class 3) 1m4f
Two competitive handicaps to round off the day’s action. We will be taking a chance on the good form of the Andrew Balding yard rubbing off on Perfect Illusion in the first of them. Looking potentially smart in his two year old campaign – when winning each of his two starts – he unfortunately seems to have lost the plot this season, showing little in four starts. That said, his effort in sixth over a trip too far last time out suggested some of that old ability still remains. On the back of a decent break, and having his first run since being gelded, he’s worth an each way punt now his mark has dropped to 85.
Tip: Perfect Illusion each way
5:15 Heatherwold Stud Handicap (Class 4) 1m4f
The one we like in the finale is the Bill Turner runner Bbob Alula. This son of Showcasing ran a remarkable race at Brighton last time out. Looking all at sea on that undulating, twisting circuit, he somehow managed to just about still be in contention approaching the final furlong, only to then disappear off screen when his rider dropped the reins. To then finish off the race in the manner he did – coming with a real rattle to grab second – suggests to us that he may be well handicapped off a mark of 75 now that he’s back on a more conventional track.
Tip: Bbob Alula to win