What are the best bets at Ascot and York on Saturday?
A cracking day of action with the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes taking centre stage at Ascot, while the Sky Bet York Stakes is the highlight on the Knavesmire. The Channel 4 cameras are taking in seven races across both meetings and they come under scrutiny here.
14:45 Ascot – Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes (Fillies Group 3), 6f
Frankel’s daughter FAIR EVA is odds-on to follow up her impressive Haydock debut success in this Group 3 and, while she’s taking on some nice fillies, she is potentially a notch above them. The Haydock second and third have come out and won since to frank the form and, like her sire, she will continue to improve as her juvenile campaign progresses. A banker bet at bet365′s 4/5.
Each-way backers might want to consider Hughie Morrison’s Poet’s Princess at BetVictor’s 40/1. She built on a promising debut run at Salisbury to land a Newbury maiden last time in great style and, being out of a dam who won in Listed company and was a half-sister to the top class Sakhee’s Secret (a Group 1 winner over this trip), she ought to be up to making her mark at this level.
15:00 York – Read Richard Fahey’s Column At sportinglife.com Handicap, 7f
Richard Fahey will be keen to land this given the race title and his Farlow is not without a chance after finishing well from the back into sixth in last Saturday’s Bunbury Cup. This is wide open, though, and none of the ten runners can be ruled out with total confidence. John Gosden’s Predilection is far better than he showed on soft ground at Royal Ascot and could well bounce back here, but narrow preference is for FREE CODE. David Barron’s charge bounced back to his best when mugged on the line at Newmarket last weekend and has fallen to a mark 2lb lower than when last successful in 2015. He’s shown in the past he can hold his form well when in the mood so a repeat is likely and may well suffice. Take Betfair’s 15/2.
15:20 Ascot – Woodford Reserve Handicap (Str), 1m
Plenty of progressive three-year-olds are set to clash and John Gosden’s VON BLUCHER looks the pick of them, albeit he’s favourite across the board. A beaten favourite on his reappearance at Sandown on unsuitable soft ground, he showed what he was capable on a quicker surface when storming home over this trip at Newmarket earlier this month, giving the impression there was more in the locker. In which case, a 7lb rise might not be enough to stop him following up and his revised mark of 93 looks lenient given that Ennaadd, whom he beat by over a length in a Lingfield maiden last autumn, went on to complete a hat-trick and is now rated 106. With Ryan Moore booked, he rates nap material and Betway’s 9/2 is standout.
15:35 York – Sky Bet York Stakes (Group 2), 1m2f88y
Just five runners are set to go to post and Roger Charlton’s TIME TEST is nicely clear of his rivals based on official ratings, hence his skinny odds of 2/5. Already proven at this level, he was far from disgraced when third in the Group 1 Eclipse last time on ground slower than ideal and, with conditions more in his favour here, he can land a confidence-boosting success ahead of his bug summer target, the Juddmonte International, which is staged over track and trip next month.
15:55 Ascot – Gigaset International Stakes (Heritage Handicap), 7f
A big field for this 7f Heritage Handicap and we’re used to seeing several of these competing in such races, including Heaven’s Guest and Mutawathea, who were second and third in the Bunbury Cup last time. They should again be involved at the finish as should the Newmarket fifth Flash Fire, who won the Victoria Cup over track and trip with something up his sleeve and therefore remains feasibly weighted on a 5lb higher mark. The trio make more appeal than Hunt Cup second and forecast favourite Librisa Breeze, who is dropping back in trip and needs softer ground besides.
However, I much prefer the chances of one lurking further down the handicap in the shape of James Tate’s BRAZOS, who is carrying a 3lb penalty for beating 15 rivals over this trip at Doncaster nine days ago. That was his first win since landing a class 2 handicap over track and trip in 2014 and he had just a nose to spare over Regal Dan at the line, but the pair were nicely clear of the third and the winner has plenty of form off much higher marks than today’s 92, reaching a peak of 109 and placing in a couple of Group races. He’s needed a few races to find his feet this season as he’s a horse who carries a lot of condition and now he’s going back in the right direction, it’s not hard to see him going close to claiming back-to-back wins. But each-way is the sensible way to support him and Paddy Power’s 14/1 is the way to go as the Irish firm are joint-top price and are paying out on five places.
16:10 York – Sky Bet Dash Handicap, 6f
This looks as competitive as ever but recent results suggest we shouldn’t be looking too far down the betting list for the winner, with four of the last five favourites obliging. Last year’s winner Tanzeel and the ultra-consistent Kimberella are disputing favouritism currently and it’s easy to see why. The former is just 2lb higher this time round and should be spot on after a recent Newmarket outing, while the latter horse has been running well in some high-class sprints since winning at Chester in May and might have notched a couple of more wins had things gone his way.
However, they may both struggle to give weight to INTISAAB, who represents David O’Meara and is arguably the most progressive sprinter in the line up. Formerly with Dermot Weld, he won a couple of handicaps for his current stable in the spring of 2015, only to lose his way a bit. But after a couple of below-par efforts on soft this spring, he bounced back when finishing second (of 21) at Ascot in May and hasn’t looked back since. Indeed, if he’d been drawn a bit better at York on his penultimate start he’d be chasing a four-timer here and he’s clearly still improving. He has the fast ground he needs, which might hinder some of the others, and he goes well for 3lb claimer Shelley Birkett, who is 2121 on him in 2016. So, all things considered I’m happy to take BetVictor’s 15/2.
16:30 Ascot – King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) (Sponsored By Qipco) (British Champions Series), 1m4f
The day’s feature is poorer for the absence of Postponed, who was a short price before being withdrawn in the week due to an infection. That said, it has opened up the race and four of the remaining seven runners have strong claims. The Queen’s Hardwicke Stakes winner Dartmouth took over as favourite but he’s now lost that honour to Aidan O’Brien’s Highland Reel, who finished just a head behind him in that Ascot race run over track and trip and will appreciate the return to faster ground. That comment also applies to Dartmouth, though, and I’m inclined to think the improving four-year-old can confirm the form.
Whether he can also see off French raider ERUPT, remains to be seen however. The winner of last season’s Grand Prix de Paris before finishing close up in the Arc (fifth) and Japan Cup (sixth), he came back to his best when finishing a length and a quarter second behind Silverware in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud earlier this month. The winner is much improved this season and looks a real contender for this year’s Arc, so the form is solid, and Erupt did well to finish as close as he did having not been in a great position when the dash for the line started. He has 3lb to find on the front pair on the ratings but gives the impression there is more to come over this trip, and he showed he can handle a fast surface in the Tokyo race. He’s a shade of value at bet365’s 4/1.
Wings Of Desire, the only three-year-old runner, is very much respected after his fine fourth in the Epsom Derby and it would be no surprise if he were to emulate his brother Eagle Top, who finished runner-up in last year’s race. The other three are much harder to fancy and this has not been a race for shocks with the biggest-winning SP in the last decade being 9/1.
Fancy some free bets? Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above seven races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50) on the next race shown live on Channel 4. If that also wins at 4/1 or bigger, get another free bet and so on.