Our racing expert has his say on the televised action from the Esher track.
1:50 5f (5f10y) 188Bet Extra Place Races Handicap (Class 3) (3yo+ 0-95)
A hugely competitive sprint handicap and the somewhat tentative suggestion is Mike Murphy’s RIO RONALDO at a double-digit price. He does have a tendency to be slow away and that was certainly the case at Windsor last time, where he was always in the last pair. However, Fran Berry was easy on him from a fair way out and this race should be run to suit as he loves picking picking them up late off a fast pace. Those tactics so nearly paid off over this track and trip (good to firm) two starts back as he got the gap he needed and came though to win, only to idle in the shadow of the post and lose out by a nose (was originally called the winner). His trainer reckons he wants this easier ground and it was riding ‘good’ when he won at Salisbury previously, so everything is in place for a big run from what is a plum draw in stall one next to the far rail.
2:25 1m2f (1m1f209y) Best Odds Guaranteed At 188Bet Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+)
It could be worth forgiving HISTORY WRITER a slightly disappointing effort at Newmarket last time as he wasn’t beaten that far into sixth (closing at the line) and looked a three-year-old on the up when winning over a mile here previously. His trainer David Menuisieur said afterwards that good ground would be as fast as he wants, so today’s conditions are ideal, and he’s a horse who they will remain patient with. You get the impression they think quite a bit of him and it wouldn’t surprise if he ended up better than a handicapper, so he could be one to keep in mind for next month’s Cambridgeshire. He’s certainly going to need further than a mile if his latest run is any guide and the step up to this trip may well see him progress further. Fran Berry retains the partnership and he has a 24 per cent (6-25) strike rate on the stable runners for a £16.50 profit to £1 level-stakes. There’s lots to like about his chances then and he’s a worthy favourite.
3:00 1m 188Bet Casino Atalanta Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares) (Class 1) (3yo+)
Sir Michael Stoute’s VERACIOUS is taking a big drop in class having mixed it Group 1 company on her two starts this season, finishing a very respectable third on each occasion. That’s easily the best form on offer here and there’s no reason to think she can’t run to the same level with the drop back to a mile on easier ground likely to suit her ideally. Her main market rival Laugh Aloud absolutely bolted up in a Group 3 in June of last year, but she’s not been seen since and may need this as a prep for some bigger targets in the autumn. In which case, she might have a battle on for second spot with the improving Awesometank, who landed a Listed contest over course and distance last time out.
3:35 7f 188Bet Solario Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (2yo)
Bookmakers are showing Too Darn Hot plenty of respect with 11/10 quotes on offer across the board at the time of writing. It’s easy to see why the son of Dubawi has captured their imagination as he absolutely hosed up in a maiden on his racecourse debut here (1m) and represents John Gosden, whose last two Solario winners were Kingman (2013) and Ravens Pass (2007) from just four runners in that time. However, it’s hard to know what he achieved against just four rivals, especially as the second favourite bombed out in last place, and the time was nothing special either.
He’s therefore somewhat reluctantly opposed at the odds in favour of Martin Meade’s CONFIDING, who created a big impression when winning on his Newbury debut, the form of which has been franked several times since by the placed horses, and may have still needed the experience when third in a well contested Group 2 at Goodwood on his next outing. I’m reasonably confident he can improve past the second Dunkeron and, with the in-form Oisin Murphy booked to do the pushing, he could give the favourite plenty to think about.
All odds were correct at time of posting.