I’ll start by pointing out that in the opening race at Kempton we see Derby second and Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs returning to the all-weather in a Group 3. He should be winning a race of this nature and it is just a watching brief.
There are plenty of meetings to come with just Wolverhampton in the evening. I’ve focussed more at Haydock with a quick delve into a race at both Ascot and Kempton.
14:35 Haydock – Old Borough Cup
This staying handicap is quite a tricky race to put together. I’ll start at the head of the market with High Secret for Sir Mark Prescott, who has been on the improve recently and has now won two of his last three. He has gone up in trip in time and drops back to this 1m6f trip, which wouldn’t be too much of a concern because he did show a good turn of foot to win at Chelmsford although that was in a small field. Despite having his quirks he is a strong traveller and will enjoy condition. There are lots of ticks in boxes and he looks a worthy favourite on an upward curve.
Notarised won the Old Newton Cup here at Haydock in similar conditions back in July. That puts him high up on my shortlist for this contest and at a double figure price could prove to be some value. In the Old Newton Cup he showed his fighting qualities to hold off stablemate Watersmeet in the closing furlong to prevail after leading for the majority of the race. Similar tactics are likely to be employed again; those tactics weren’t used in the Ebor and he was well beaten. He does have that extra bit of stamina to prove but does have a win at this trip, which came at Goodwood in June where he raced prominently. His trainer Mark Johnston has a good record in this race too.
You can forgive Aramist for his last two runs, which have come over 2m and 2m5f. Dropping back to this 1m6f trip looks right up his street and he is off his mark when second to Elidor at Newmarket in May where he stayed on in the closing stages for that place but had no chance to win. The cut in the ground is a positive for him and he wouldn’t want it to dry too much. He would be one to look at for place purposes only. Pressure Point is a horse in form winning four of his seven starts this season. His latest win being the Archerfield Cup at Musselburgh for which he has gone up another 5lb. He is a strong stayer and only does enough to win in the meaning the handicapper can’t put him up too much and for that there could be more to come from him however I’d prefer to be backing him on quicker ground.
Oasis Fantasy is one that I couldn’t really back with stolen money in all honesty. He has been well supported in most of his races and is yet to convince me. He didn’t run too badly over 2m at York to finish fourth but was beaten by nearly 6l. He drops back to this 1m6f trip where his best form run came at Goodwood in May to finish second behind Quest For More, who went on to win the Northumberland Plate. Ed Dunlop will be hoping that the first-time cheekpieces eek that bit more out of him but he isn’t for me.
Second on the shortlist to Notarised would be his stablemate Blue Wave. He won the Summer Stakes at Goodwood three starts ago off a 14 month absence and didn’t run too badly to finish third in the Listed Chester Stakes where he didn’t show a turn of foot inside the closing stages. Gabrial’s Star ran on in that race to take second from Blue Wave by a neck. Mark Johnston has booked Joseph O’Brien, which is an eye catching and interesting jockey booking. Johnston has used O’Brien to ride two of his runners in Ireland previously without success. Overall this looks his ideal trip and conditions are likely to suit plus this is only his fourth start this season, so he could have more to give up against a few more battle hardened performers.
Advice: Notarised (14/1 each-way)
15:45 Haydock – Sprint Cup
Gordon Lord Byron (2013) and G Force (2014) are the last two winners of this race and they line up in this good-looking renewal of this Group 1. Gordon Lord Byron was second in this last year and has conditions to suit him. He looks likely to run well and he looks very backable at an each-way price. G Force however hasn’t been campaigned too well you could argue. He does have question marks hovering over him but after a 56-day break he could be fresh enough to show some of his best form.
Tactically there is plenty of pace on and one of those who is likely to sit towards the head is Mattmu. Yes he’s back into consideration after a very good effort to finish third in the Nunthorpe behind two top class sprinters in Mecca’s Angel and Acapulco. I’ve put him up on most occasions this season, so he doesn’t really need much of an introduction. Overall his form looks good and as mentioned it could prove best to sit prominent on softer ground, which ticks that box. The fact he is back up to his best trip of 6f would be another confidence booster. The only slight negative is that his worst run came here when fifth in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes but that did look more of a blip with what he has shown bar that run.
Tiggy Wiggy is one that is likely to race prominently too however she can be a bit edgy prior to racing, which can be off-putting. She proved herself as a top sprinter last year and when stepped up to a mile in the Guineas didn’t run too badly to finish third. This looks more her bag and if you can forgive her run in the Commonwealth Cup then she could one at a double figure price to go well.
Twilight Son has looked a group horse in the making and has his chance in this contest to prove that. He has been running in handicaps but has looked a really smart individual. At York in June he finished ahead of Magical Memory, who we saw win really well at Goodwood, and if you look at that then there could be more to come from this son of Kyllachy. He handled the softer ground that day and he won it well in the end after travelling smoothly throughout. If today isn’t his day then there looks to be a nice sprint race in him.
Magical Memory won really well at Goodwood in a big-field sprint justifying favouritism. He showed a good turn of foot from the rear to put the race to bed in good fashion. However that came on quick ground, which he won’t get here but it will be drying, which would be a positive. Frankie Dettori told connections to supplement him, which they duly have done but he has jumped ship and will ride Danzeno. If Magical Memory proves he handles some cut in the ground and he may have a bit more improvement in him to go close.
Of the rest then the Hamdan Al Maktoum pair of Adaay and Waady both of whom are improving three-year-olds, especially the latter. The former won the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes over course and distance coming from off the pace and if the ground continues to dry he wouldn’t mind that. Paul Hanagan has the choice and choses him probably due to the form he has shown although you have to question that decision. Duly he gets to see how they work on the gallops but Waady has improved throughout the season and would be my preferred of the pair with the way he has been shaping when winning at 5f. His last win came in the Group 3 Sprint Stakes at Sandown where he didn’t have the clearest of passages through and that performance may deserve upgrading.
Advice: Mattmu (9/1 each-way)
Twilight Son (10/1 each-way Paddy Power)
16:05 Kempton – Sirenia Stakes
This Group 3 contest has an eight-runner field but there are three that standout. King Of Rooks is one of those and he heads the market. Richard Hannon’s yard have won in this race in the last two renewals and have a strong chance with this colt. His form looks strong, third in the Norfolk Stake at Royal Ascot, second to Kachy in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood and fourth to Ajaya in the Group 2 Gimcrack. He has the strongest form going but there is one that could improve coming back to the all-weather. This is his first encounter with the all-weather polytrack but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as he is a son of Acclamation, who has an 11% strike rate on these surfaces with his progeny – that percentage is the same on the turf too.
Tutu NGuru won her maiden at Lingfield by over 2l. The second that day was Lolla Fincess and on her second start she beat a debutant called La Rioja, who ended up winning a Group 3 race at Salisbury during the week. That maiden form doesn’t look too shabby. After a slow start in the Albany Stakes she did to well to finish sixth considering she had the widest of draws. At Newmarket she finished second to Holy Grail in a Nursery despite not having the best of passages through. She ran on strongly in the 20-runner field only to bump into one on the day. I think there is a race of this nature in her and today could be that one.
The other main one to focus on is the Godolphin runner Rouleau. He won his maiden at Wolverhampton on his second start at a short price. At Goodwood he finished third and was 2l behind King Of Rooks, so will have to find some more after being outpaced in the final stages after leading. At York in the Listed Roses Stakes he was beaten by a neck over 5f, which arguably isn’t his optimal trip, so this return to 6f should see him close to his best. Adventurous is the one that could spoil the party and you’d expect Franny Norton to take him to the front early on, as that is how he won his Newbury maiden. He does need to find some improvement, especially to get the better of King Of Rooks.
Advice: Tutu NGuru (3/1 Win)
This is a wide-open 6f race and Ascot is currently quite narrow as they are saving ground for Champions Day. Towards the front of the market Dawn’s Early Light would be on to look at. This grey has been on the improve lately and is yet to finish outside the first three. Over course and distance in July he beat Crew Cut by 3l and was really impressive. The slightly easier ground here is a slight concern however he does have a third on soft ground at Ripon. The high draw is something that is more likely to be a positive after seeing yesterday’s racing where the majority was down in the far side to middle regions of the track.
Another three-year-old on the up is Cartmell Cleave. He beat two horses rated higher than him and the third Mister Brightside has won since at Newmarket. He came off the pace that day to run on strongly. For that success he has to overcome an 8lb rise in the weights and is up in class. There could be more to come from him and today he has a high draw, which should help too. Jamie Spencer rides this straight course well and he’s on Right Touch. He was fifth on softer ground than this in the Great St Wilfrid consolation race at Ripon but wasn’t beaten by far. The fact is the ground is likely to be drying, which will suit him plus many others too. He wouldn’t need to find too much to go close here and is one to keep an eye on.
Brian Meehan’s colt Growl takes my eye. Since winning on debut he’s been running in better races than this, so the drop in class may prove to be what he requires to get his head back in front. His best two efforts have been seconds in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes and a Conditions Stakes at Leicester. Both of those efforts have been with cut in the ground and at Leicester you could put forward a case to say he was unlucky after being hampered inside the final furlong, which slowed him and he wasn’t beaten by far. His most recent effort came in the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury were he was fifth behind the likes of Adaay, Jungle Cat, Salt Island and Waady. His debut win came over course and distance plus he’s had his work cut out in a couple of the races he has featured and is quite interesting in this sort of race, especially at his price.
Charles Molson initially caught the eye after a cup second at Windsor behind Huntsmans Close but h wasn’t at his best at Goodwood. He’ll need to find something more in this race but could feel a place. Highland Acclaim has found some form in his last two races. He ran well in defeat on both occasions, especially at York when second to Caspian Prince. Conditions are similar and he is drawn highly, so expect a big run from the David O’Meara four-year-old. Amazour has claims but has to prove himself at this level but if the ground remains good to soft he is hard to discount. Squats ran well over course and distance at the Shergar Cup and may possibly suggest at a return to some form.
Advice: Growl (22/1 each-way – Sky Bet)