Our resident tipster is giving the Shergar Cup a big swerve, preferring to concentrate on the action elsewhere.
Best of British if you’re betting on the Shergar Cup at Ascot – you’ll need it! Personally, I find it about as appealing as an all-weather bumper card from a betting point of view and I’m far more interested in proceedings at Newmarket and Haydock.
The Sweet Solera Stakes (3.35pm) is the feature at the former track and Brian Meehan’s filly BLUE BAYOU looks the one to be on. Successful on her Haydock debut in June, the daughter of Bahamian Bounty ran a blinder when upped to Group 2 company in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at the July meeting here, being inched out by Illuminate and Besharah. The runner-up has since won a Group 3 at Ascot to give the form a timely boost and, with the step up to 7f expected to suit, she must go close.
The big danger is Charlie Appleby’s Bint Al Reem, who justified strong market support when winning on her debut at this track last month. Godolphin have won five of the last six runnings of this race so she has plenty in her favour. However, the selection might just be a cut above with Meehan saying after her latest run that she’s as good a two-year-old old as he has trained. That’s some compliment and it’s worth noting that his Donna Blini won the same race that Blue Bayou finished third in before adding the Group 1 Cheveley Park, and the selection could be heading down the same route having been entered for that Newmarket contest run here in September.
Staying at HQ, the other horse to back is the Roger Varian-trained ALMOHTASEB in the 1m handicap run later on the card (4.45pm). He’s hardly a ‘dark horse’ after he won his maiden at Doncaster by seven lengths last time and I’m not expecting too much generosity from bookmakers. However, in-form, improving types like him are exactly what we should be siding with at this time of year, while the ground remains fast, and an initial handicap mark of 89 is unlikely to halt his progress for a yard that is in flying form.
The son of Oasis Dream was doing all his best work late on at Doncaster, easily reeling in the free-running runner-up under a confident ride, and the extra furlong he encounters this afternoon should be right up his street. William Buick takes over from Dane O’Neill and he has a healthy 25% (13-52) strike rate for the stable over the past five seasons, which jumps to 31% (8-26) on three-year-old runners. The selection could well be another winner for him.
At Haydock, AMOOD could be worth an each-way interest at a tasty 20/1 in the 1m2f handicap (2.20pm) getting weight from all bar on of his rivals. He did well to finish second (of 17) over a mile at Thirsk last time given he was forced to race wide from the end of the back straight and then being forced to switch on the closing stages. A winner over this trip at Newmarket earlier in the season, he doesn’t look at all badly treated and in his current frame of mind could easily finish in the frame again, ensuring a nice profit.
Newmarket 3.35, Blue Bayou @ best morning-line price
Newmarket 4.45, Almohtaseb @ best morning-line price
Haydock 2.20, Amood each-way @ 20/1 Betfred