Weatherby’s Private Banking Handicap (2.40) – This is one of the races of the season, where absolutely everything has a chance of some sort from the favourite to the rank outsider so I’ll just give my two against the field. Kafeel was closing fast as favourites in an Epsom handicap over 7 furlongs and over a mile, would have gotten significantly closer to that day’s winner Almargo. The third and fourth have disappointed since, but the winner landed a Newcastle handicap with ease and there have been wins in behind for the fifth and seventh since; This is a much harder affair and he’s up 7lbs but over his ideal trip he should be able to give a very bold showing, even up in this class.
The next for me is American Hope. In a race full of lightly raced types it’s true that he may be more exposed than some but his form more then compensates for that. His efforts behind Etrijaal in Listed company read well – he was fifth in the Bunbury Cup off 105 – and so does his sixth in the Britannia at the Royal Meeting, a creditable effort anyway but even better when you consider that he was the first of 10 that were caught out on the far side; The first 5 home all came down the near side that day. This is no drop down in class but he’s already proven himself and looks worth supporting today.
I could go on and on about the rest of the field but really it’s take your pick from the rest; These are my two in a terrific race.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Kafeel (9/1 Bet365), 1 pt each/way American Hope (8/1 Bet365)
International Stakes (3.15 Ascot) – I’ve been waiting for Ayaar to land a big handicap since April and off the same mark as his Victoria and Hunt Cup efforts, I’m convinced the day will come sooner or later for Luca Cumani’s 4 year old. Having been too keen on his return, he showed fine form when fourth in the Victoria Cup and was then significantly better than his fifth in the Hunt Cup suggested, having been balked right out of a winning challenge when knocked sideways a furlong out. He should go well again today.
Horsted Keynes’s claims are obvious but he looks worth backing to make a two pronged portfolio. An impressive winner at Yarmouth on his return, he came with a thundering late charge when second in the Buckingham Palace and could consider himself an unlucky loser to Louis the Pious that day and has had the form of that contest underlined by Bronze Angel’s handicap win at York, albeit up in trip to a mile. The Cambridgeshire winner drops back in trip a furlong but may be better at a mile than this seven.
Belgian Bill, unlucky in this year’s Hunt Cup, rated a big threat, as is Watcheable, but for a value bet look no further than Don’t Bother Me, who was crying for an extra furlong when seventh in the Wokingham and gets it off the same mark today. His previous efforts this season included a fourth to Glen Moss and then also a third in a well contests Newmarket handicap (albeit as favourite). Gabriel’s Lad, unable to hack in group company, has to be respected in handicaps again, having been such an impressive winner of the Victoria Cup the time before – Hunt Cup winner Field of Dream has to be respected as well even though Heaven’s Guest makes slightly more appeal at the prices, having won the Bunbury Cup last time and now getting the help of claimer Jack Garrity.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Ayaar, (12/1 BetVictor), 1 pt each/way Horsted Keynes (8/1 general),
3.30 – Muthmir’s low mileage and Line of Reason’s two big handicap wins entitled them to big respect but today could be the day for Zalty, who is weighted to reverse form with Line of Reason and is very unexposed at this trip, having had only two runs at the distance; A maiden win in 2012 and his fine second last time. You can give any a mount a decent chance but maybe Rene Mathias, who has valid reasons for running below his best last time,
Advice: 1 pt each/way Zalty (8/1 Skybet)