It’s not been the best week for the blog but I had three places (two seconds) yesterday and were very close with Madeed who arguably would have won with a better draw and early run. It can only be hoped that the breaks come today, especially in running for the Celebration Mile.
Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3YO only) (2.30) – This looks to be an ideal opportunity for Shifting Power. A narrow winner of the Free Handicap on his seasonal return, he has since run well in Group company on his next three starts, finishing fourth in the 2,000 Guineas, second in the Irish version, and then a close third in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly. The form of all three starts looks rock solid – this looks to be a strong Guineas, he had the jersey winner behind at the Curragh, and Charm Spirit had Group 1 form to his name before winning the Jean Prat, and he should take the beating today against a progressive set of rivals.
The Britannia second and third, Bow Creek and Hors De Combat, lead them. Bow Creek gave nearly a stone to Hors De Combat at Ascot and would have to be preferred for the bang in form Johnston team although given the awkwardness of his draw, Hors De Combat did well to get as close as he did and more progress cannot be ruled out. The same is true of both Rapprochement and Wannabe Yours, wide margin winners taking a big step up in class here while Windfast has a lot to prove on the basis of his Jersey third on a line through the winner Mutsajeeb.
Advice: 3 pts win Shifting Power (6/4 general)
Betfred Mile (Heritage Handicap) (3.05) – The nature of this course means that the draw is vitally important here over the round course and the bigger the field, the more true this tends to be; This applies most to today’s feature, the Betfred (Celebration Mile), with a field generally close to 20 lining up before the first bend. It’s no surprise to learn that the 8 of the last 10 runners have therefore come from the bottom seven stalls and it would seem wise to have at least one runner onside in that category. Of those, Belgian Bill makes the most appeal by far; A fine third in the Victoria Cup on his reappearance, he would have finished much closer had he gotten any sort of run in the Royal Hunt Cup and while on the face of it he was disappointment last time out in the International Handicap at Ascot he left his race in the stalls – George Baker the trainer say he was looking at the crowd – and if not doing so again has a fine chance if repeating this season’s efforts of his mark.
Of others in the first eight stalls, Red Avenger would have a fine chance if back to his best – first time blinkers may help – although the interesting one on two seven furlong efforts this season is Fort Bastion, who was far better than he was able to show in the International last time when blocked for a run at a crucial time having been given a lot to do; That was not a run out of the blue, as he was building on another fine effort when fourth in the Bunbury Cup, and he may be worth chancing to go well again if he is on a going day – he has been in and out all year.
It’s very hard to leave out International Handicap winner Heavy Metal, for the yard that has won three of the last 5 renewals of this race, although he may be happier at 7 furlongs rather than a mile – of his seven wins, just one has been at a mile and he’s won three times in 2014 at seven furlongs. However, he can be expected to launch a big challenge. Our Channel drops back from looking at middle distance challenges with a fascinating entry here, but a wide draw has taken a lot of the appeal away from him on his first start for a while.
Magic City has the perfect credentials for this – last year he won 7f handicaps here over with 14, 16 and 18 runner fields – and off the same mark for the last (and hardest) of those wins then he’s going to take some beating for the Hughes/Hannon team who have come very close on more than couple of occasions this week. If the cards drop right for him today then it’s likely that he’ll be seriously involved.
The obvious one is Velox, who should have finished far closer at Epsom when he was totally cut across but out that right when he just smashed his field in a competitive handicap at Sandown last time; Up 9lbs for that, he is a worthy favourite here.
Captain Cat has looked classy on the AW this season and if bringing that form to the turf is another player; Another very interesting contender at a price is Heaven’s Guest, who won the Bunbury Cup and was finishing fast in the International, suggesting this first attempt at a mile won’t be an issue.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Belgian Bill (10/1 Coral*), 1 pt each/way Magic City (8/1 Coral, 9/1 general)
Betfred King George Stakes (Group 2) (3.40) – As ever, a fiercely competitive renewal with most of the major contenders being up and comers with few group runs but massive potential. Of those, Extortionist and G Force can both be expected to make bold bids but it’s fascinating to note just how much pace is drawn on the far side and that could give a perfect platform for Kingsgate Native to show his best, which would make him a big player here.
Robert Cowell’s 9 year old has shown some very smart form this year, not least when second to Sole Power in the Palace House and then third to Hot Streak and Pearl Secret in the Temple Stakes before finishing second to Extortionist at Sandown. He was slightly disappointing for the first time this season at York behind Take Cover but he was caught outside of the main action there and thrives when the pace is hard early; With so many front runners drawn around him then he’s got to be taken seriously today and looks to be the value.
Take Cover would make serious appeal but he’s got front runners galore to deal with here from the start and that takes away some considerable appeal for him. Moviesta won this from the back last season but he hasn’t gone on since even if his July Cup run seemed to be coming back into some sort of form even with plenty of pace around him.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Kingsgate Native (12/1 general)
Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Nursery (4.15) – There are a multitude of potential improvers here but the best of them could be George Bowen, who won far better than the small distance suggested on his debut at Ripon when noisy and green beforehand and then dwelling at the start before being rushed to the front and sticking there late, showing a fine attitude to last out in front when challenged by the runner up. He can at least prove to be equal to his opening mark of 84 and while he made no impression in the July Stakes it’s interesting that connections felt he was worth a shot in that company and he makes the most appeal.
Advice: 1 pt each/way George Bowen (11/1 Skybet)
L’Ormarins Queens Plate Stakes (Registered As The Oak Tree Stakes) (Fillies’ Group 3) (Class 1) (4.50) -The progressive Muteela is going to be very hard to stop in her bid to make it five starts unbeaten but there’s a serious argument to suggest that Queen Catrine was desperately unlucky not to have beaten her in the Sandringham and now off level weights, just has to be the bet at the prices of the two. Forget her last run when the steady pace ruined her chances, and she’s 7lbs better off with the favourite for a short head and in all likeliness may well have won if she hadn’t had to go around the whole field from three furlongs out.
J Wonder will be a big player back to 7 furlongs, while Wee Jean should be respected, although This Time’s French form needs some serious respecting on the bare form here and she may outrun odds of just 14/1.
Advice: 1 pt win, 2 pts place Queen Catrine (5/1 general, 10/11 Ladbrokes)
Guinness E.B.F. Maiden (3YO plus) (7.25) – Sea The Stars has been all the rage in the breeding shed, with his first three year old crop making big waves in the classic crop over Europe, but he can strike a much smaller success with Awesome Star, who can build on his promising debut third at the Curragh with victory here.
Team Weld’s Massinga is an understandable favourite but in what looks to be a three horse race on form – Aidan O’Brien runs the twice raced Falkirk – Awesome Star’s Curragh maiden looked to be a much stronger affair and he was also shaping as if he’d really enjoy the step up in trip today, and he gets the vote.
Advice: 1 pt win Awesome Star (9/4 general)