1:20 Virgin Bet Handicap 1m
There are a few with questions to answer here, either over well-being or stamina, and the two who appeal at prices are Dutch Decoy and Seasett.
The former has already won five times this season, and is holding his form well despite a busy campaign. He did finish well held in the London Mile Final at Kempton last time, but had an impossible task being held up in a race where the first four home were prominent from the outset. He’s better judged on previous runs, and could easily bounce back.
Seasett won on his handicap debut for Richard Fahey last year, and again came to hand early with an easy win on debut for Charlie Fellowes at Nottingham on his return, and matched that form – proving he didn’t need the mud in the process – when a close fifth behind Eilean Dubh at York on his penultimate start despite being drawn very wide. He disappointed last time, but comes here fresh, and looks fairly handicapped on the efforts mentioned.
Most of his rivals are handicapped to their best, and many have had long seasons, so his relative freshness should be a positive, and he appeals at the overnight odds.
1:55 Virgin Bet Doonside Cup Stakes (Listed) 1m2f
Phantom Flight deserves his place at the head of the market for the Doonside Cup, and while he wouldn’t want soft ground, looks to have been lucky with the weather, and his handicap form at this trip is very strong.
Just beaten for season in a red-hot handicap at the July meeting at Newmarket won by New London, he built on that by running away with what looked an open handicap at York last month, beating Spirit Dancer and 10 others.
He may be stepping up in class here, but Phantom Flight would be conceding weight if this were a handicap, and given he’s clearly still unexposed, he is hard to oppose in a race where only a few can be seriously considered.
2:30 Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup Handicap 6f
The bulk of the pace appears to be among the high numbers here, but I’m hoping the presence of the trailblazing Emperor Spirit in stall one will help pull those drawn low into the race, and the signs in early sprints at this meeting have been that the far side of the track is at least as fast as the stands rail.
I was initially keen on Snash here, but Tim Easterby’s charge has been well found in the market. If you rate Snash’s chances, then you have to respect the claims of Aplomb, who was an unlucky third behind the favourite when last seen at Thirsk in June.
Aplomb hasn’t been seen since catching the eye there, but now finds himself 8lbs better off with Snash, while his previous effort when splitting a pair of subsequent winners at Nottingham, looks good in retrospect.
That Nottingham effort came after a break of eight weeks, and I’d be surprised if Jane Chapple-Hyam has left much to work on with Aplomb, who has plenty of back-form to suggest he can win off today’s mark.
3:05 Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3) 6f
Queen Me looks another solid favourite after her excellent effort in the Lowther Stakes, and she should prove a tough nut to crack. Her presence helps the each-way shape of this race, however, and I thought Minnetonka was overpriced based on her form behind Lezoo in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot.
Since that fine effort, she has been unsuited by the drop to five furlongs in listed company at Newbury, and was hampered when making her all-weather debut in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last time. She does have her limitations, but Minnetonka will appreciate the return to 6f on turf here and has the form to make the frame, for all she has her work cut out to better the market leader here.
3:40 Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Handicap (Heritage Handicap) 6f
The Ayr Gold Cup is absolutely wide open on paper, and with the pace coming down the centre, there are reasons for arguing that the draw should be fair to all, with the possible exception of hold-up horses drawn on either wing.
It looks like being able to hold a prominent position from the start will be an advantage, and the one who appeals most to me at the prices is Tinto, who ran very well to finish a close fifth in the Stewards’ Cup, and did too much too soon when a respectable eighth behind Summerghand when were with the latter at York last month.
Tinto should be able to track likely leader Bergerac, who should give those drawn in single figures a good tow through the contest, and the six-year-old is a very straightforward ride. He’s been ridden by senior jockeys this season, but is just the type on whom a good 7lb claimer should excel. This makes the booking of Mark Winn – seen to good effect when winning the apprentice handicap at Pontefract on Thursday – look particularly significant, and I believe that weight off his back could make a big difference in a race where the majority have little to hide from the handicapper.
Once again, I’m hoping that being drawn low is a generic advantage, and am writing this before the Bronze Cup can yield clues in that regard, but hopefully that analysis will still be valid on Saturday.
1:40 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes (Group 3) 1m 3f
It ought to be a good day for Godolphin at Newbury, and Siskany can kick things off in what used to be the Arc Trial. His win in the Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket last year has worked out tremendously well. He continued his progress by winning the Listed Al Khail Trophy at Meydan in the spring, slamming Dubai Future and Kemari by seven lengths and more in the process.
The ground would have been quick enough for him, and the one-mile-seven-furlong trip too far in the Red Sea Cup in Saudi Arabia next time, but he was still ahead of Dubai Future and finished a good third.
In short, Siskany will be hard to beat if able to show the form he did in the spring. The drop to one mile three furlongs is unlikely to be a massive issue assuming Kemari sets a solid pace.
2:15 Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (Group 3) 5f 34yds
Manaccan has been much improved since fitted with a tongue-tie in recent times, his record over 5f with that aid reading 211, and his latest win in the Listed Scarborough Stakes at Doncaster shows that he is better than ever, and capable of making a breakthrough at group level. John Ryan’s colt appreciated the fast pace of that contest and won with a little bit to spare, so gets the nod over Tis Marvellous, who won his second Beverley Bullet on his most recent outing.
2:50 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (Group 2) 6f
I’ve struggled to see beyond the market leaders at Newbury, but am willing to take a chance on one at a price here, with Wallop, who needs to improve on the ratings, but that is hardly surprising given he’s only had the one outing. He shaped with huge promise on his Newmarket debut, coming a close third to subsequent Gimcrack winner Noble Style.
The runner-up that day was Mill Stream, who was also a previous winner, and has since run with credit in the Acomb Stakes at York .
It is a feather in Wallop’s cap that he pushed that pair so hard at Newmarket, particularly as he took two significant bumps shortly after the start, and was shuffled back in the field. The ease with which he made up his ground and threw down a challenge was impressive, as was the gap of over seven lengths to the rest of that field that day.
The stragglers were far from useless, however, with fifth-placed Sporting Hero winning a novice on his next start, and the fourth running well to be beaten two lengths in a warm Ascot novice on his next start. All in all, it’s not hard to mark up that debut effort, and normal improvement puts Wallop right in the reckoning for this Group 2 contest.
Seasett 1.20 Ayr - 1pt e/w 16/1 (Bet365, BetFred – 4 places)
Aplomb 2.30 Ayr – 1pt e/w 16/1 (general – SkyBet 7 places)
Minnetonka 3.05 Ayr – 0.5pts e/w 10/1 (SkyBet – 5 places, 12/1 general)
Tinto 3.40 Ayr – 1pt e/w 22/1 (Bet365, Paddy Power, Betfair – 6 places)
Wallop 2.50 Newbury – 1pt win 12/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair, BetVictor)