Our racing expert has a tip for each of the eight televised races.
1:50 Haydock 1m6f Read Luke Morris Blog At Unibet Handicap (Class 2) (3yo)
Mekong confirmed he was going the right way when finishing a respectable fourth in the Melrose at York last time, but he’s a skinny-looking 9/4 at the time of writing and I’d much rather take a chance on Jessica Harrington’s PERSIAN LION at Betfair’s 13/2.
He has yet to encounter ground as soft as this, which might explain his price, but Harrington doesn’t usually travel over from Ireland for races of this nature and she must think he will handle the conditions. He’s certainly on an upward curve having built on some solid efforts in maidens over shorter to win pretty much as he liked when upped to 1m7f on his handicap debut at Leopardstown (1m7f) last month. His trainer said afterwards that he “can only improve” on that performance given he was “so big and gangly” when she got him at the start of this year and, in which case, he can surely rate higher than his current mark of 86.
2:05 Kempton 1m4f (1m3f219y) 188Bet September Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
This sees the return of last year’s Arc heroine Enable and it might be a winning one as she escapes a penalty, despite her five Group 1s, meaning main market rival Crystal Ocean has to give her 8lb. With fitness on his side he will ensure the favourite has a proper workout but I’m no backer at just 7/4 and nor am I interested in Enable at odds-on.
Bearing in mind she was beaten on her reappearance last season and her absence since last October, it wouldn’t be the daftest bet in the world to have a couple of quid on her stablemate WEEKENDER at 25/1. He’s an improving sort and is 2-2 on the all-weather, so he could upset them. UPDATE – Weekender has been scratched leaving just four runners.
2:25 Haydock 1m (1m37y) Unibet Mile (Registered As The Superior Mile Stakes) (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
Regal Reality was taking his record to 2-3 at Glorious Goodwood and there should be more to come from the lightly-raced three-year-old. However, I’m wary of backing him at short odds in this given it wasn’t the strongest Group 3 that he won and the form looks suspect, with the two form horses disappointing and the second and third, who both went off too fast, stepping up from handicaps.
He might still turn out to be top class but the bet has to be the year older EMMAUS as he will relish the cut in the ground and has looked exciting on occasions, including when beating Sir Dancealot a nose last autumn. He was below-par when a beaten favourite at Deauville 13 days ago but is now sporting cheekpieces for the first time and if his Group race entries are a guide, his trainer Roger Varian is clearly hoping for considerably better.
2:45 Ascot 7f Cunard Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+)
Plenty of these can be fancied but I’ll cut to the chase and name my idea of the winner in Archie Watson’s CHESSMAN, a lightly-raced four-year-old who deserves to his Kempton debut win when trained by John Gosden. He’s hardly run a bad race since and wasn’t disgraced by any means when seventh (of 20) in last season’s Group 3 Jersey Stakes before switching to his current stable. He’s mainly run in Listed company this season, doing best when third behind Oh This Is Us at Chester in July, but it’s his fast-finishing fifth in a top handicap over course and distance two starts back that makes him a definite contender. Given he was not ideally drawn in stall one for a hold-up horse, he didn’t run too badly when finishing midfield on his most recent outing at Goodwood and the handicapper has kindly dropped him 2lb.
I’m convinced there is a big handicap in him off his current mark and it may well be today as Watson can’t stop training winners, with ten coming in the last fortnight at a strike rate of 29 per cent, and Hollie Doyle, who has ridden five of those, doing the steering.
3:15 Kempton 1m 188Bet Extra Place Races “London Mile” Handicap (Series Final) (Class 2) (3yo+)
Honey Man is bidding for a hat-trick after wins at Chelmsford and over this track and trip last time, but he’s worse off with the re-opposing runner-up Hakeem and that horse is also potentially better drawn in stall two. It should be close between them and they fill the first two places in the market, with bet365 going 3/1 and 6/1 respectively. However, there are 14 other runners to consider and with plenty of scope for an each-way bet, I’m going to put up the THE WARRIOR at 12/1 with the same firm.
While he has not been in the same sort of form as the leading pair, these conditions bring out the best in him with a victory and two further narrow defeats over track and trip since finishing second in this race last year off 10lb higher. Ideally berthed today in stall four and with his trainer Amanda Perrett amongst the winners of late, he should make a bold bid to go one better.
3:35 Haydock 1m6f 32Red Casino Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+ 0-105)
Ian Williams looks to have a strong hand with three of the ten runners representing him, including likely favourite Speedo Boy. He should go well as might stablemate Bedrock, who has been ‘Pricewised’, but the one for my money is top weight HOCHFELD. A progressive stayer at three, he ran his best race of this campaign when a neck runner-up in Listed company at Chester last Saturday, when only just caught by a rival rated 11lb his superior. He finished that race with plenty left in the tank and might have won had his rider kicked on sooner, so it’s no surprise to see his trainer Mark Johnston turn him out again so quickly and before he is reassessed. His booking of Ryan Moore is the clincher for the bet at a generous 15/2 with Betfair.
3:55 Ascot 1m4f (1m3f211y) Lavazza Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo)
Sir Michael Stoute’s Midi has won both his novice starts this season but this demands more from the Frankel colt and BERKSHIRE ROYAL is preferred at bigger odds. Andrew Balding’s charge has been a model of consistency in 2018, winning three times and finishing a second on three occasions, including over this track and trip on his penultimate start behind Cross Counter, who has proved himself at Group level since. He couldn’t quite get to a front runner last time out at Chester and while he’s gone up another 2lb, his trainer, who is the subject of a Stable Tour this week, believes he is still on a “favourable mark” and must have a “decent chance” in this. His booking of red-hot apprentice and 3lb claimer Jason Watson may well prove decisive.
4:15 Haydock 6f 32Red Sprint Cup Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+)
All eyes will be on HARRY ANGEL in the day’s feature and punters looking to get involved at the general 5/4 will be encouraged by recent positive reports by his trainer Clive Cox concerning his wellbeing given he’s been off since flopping in the Diamond Jubilee back in June. That he goes well fresh is another reason to think he can repeat his success of 12 months ago, when pulverising his rivals by four lengths or more on heavy. The winner of half his ten starts – he’s 5-5 away from Ascot – the only thing I don’t like about him is his price, but what’s going to beat him?
I’ve huge respect for the supplemented Sir Dancealot, who has done me a good turn the last twice and is at the peak of his powers, but he’s been doing all his winning over 7f and has come up short in both of his Group 1s over this distance.
Three-year-olds have won three of the last four runnings and they are well represented this time by the likes of Speak In Colours and James Garfield. The former has been ‘Pricewised’ and that’s understandable as he looked good when beating useful yardstick Gordon Lord Byron at the Curragh last time.
However, everything is in place for Harry Angel to make a successful comeback and while he’s hardly an original choice, I think he’ll win.
Haydock 1.50, Persian Lion @ 13/2 Betfair
Kempton 2.05, Weekender @ 25/1 Paddy Power (NON-RUNNER)
Haydock 2.25, Emmaus @ 5/2 Unibet
Ascot 2.45, Chessman @ 11/1 bet365
Kempton 3.15, The Warrior each-way @ 12/1 bet365
Haydock 3.35, Hochfeld @ 15/2 Betfair
Ascot 3.55, Berkshire Royal @ 7/1 bet365
Haydock 4.15, Harry Angel @ 11/8 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.