13:20 British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes – 5f
Very little for us to go on here, with only three of the nine declared runners having seen a racecourse in public before.
Of that trio, IVORY MADONNA looks the pick, having shown promise on her debut at Goodwood, before finishing third in the Group 3 Albany Stakes (6f, good to firm) at Royal Ascot last month, when an unfancied 66/1 chance.
A slight concern has to be that she has been ponderous when the gates have gone back on both occasions and she contests a race over a furlong shorter this time but you would hope there has been a bit of work in the stalls since then. She certainly has the speed when she gets going, as was evident in her Ascot run.
The most interesting of the newcomers is Canadiansmokeshow, who is trained by Sean Woods, back in Newmarket after 20 years training abroad. He’s booked Ryan Moore for this €290,000 yearling, who is a half-sister to Going Global, Mitbaahy, and Finians Bay, all three of whom were rated over 100 and two of whom won at two.
13:50 Bahrain Trophy Stakes (Group 3) – 1m5f
The Derby fourth, MASEKELA, should come here full of confidence after finishing just over 8l behind Desert Crown in the Blue Riband, when a 66/1 shot.
As soon as you saw that run, you’d have this sort of race in mind for him. A couple of steps down in grade and the potential for another improved effort. There is always the possibility that the Derby might have taken the edge off him but he was held up there and came home well. He didn’t look to have had that hard-a-race when I saw him afterwards.
Walk Of Stars was a much better fancied 11/1 chance in the Epsom Classic and he ran a stinker, reportedly stopping quickly and finishing stone last. His Lingfield Derby Trial second that preceded that is a good piece of form in the context of this race and if he is back on-song (he’s been gelded since the Derby) then he could be a big player.
14:25 Close Brothers July Stakes (Group 2) – 6f
A super race is in prospect here with the leading players being Little Big Bear and PERSIAN FORCE and the latter is just preferred.
Little Big Bear ran a cracker to win the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes (5f, good to firm) at Royal Ascot, where the front pair had breathing space over the remainder. Ryan Moore retains the partnership for Aidan O’Brien’s team and he is not passed over lightly, as he has the potential to do better again now reverting to this longer trip.
The selection is clearly the current apple of trainer Richard Hannon’s eye and was second in the 17-runner Group 2 Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting (6f, good to firm), having trounced the Brocklesby field at Doncaster on debut and backed that up with a very comfortable Newbury conditions win.
Hannon described the son of Mehmas as “special” after his Coventry run and, apart from being a proven contender at this level, given that he “ran around a bit” that day (the words of his trainer), he surely has more to offer when nailing a fully-formed performance.
As you never know with such young horses who will improve the most, you could conceivably back both of these. If so, I’d be with Persian Force for the win and Little Big Bear to cover my Persian Force stake.
The fly in the ointment could possibly be Mysterious Night, who has twice run well at Newbury, winning a 6½f novice event there second time out. He has the potential to do better and it is unlikely that Charlie Appleby would be tilting at this is he didn’t feel the Dark Angel colt could do himself justice. He’s around about 6/1 and in an eight-runner field, could represent the proverbial ‘each-way bet to nothing’.
15:00 Bet Boost At bet365 Handicap (Heritage Handicap) – 6f
The biggest field of day one, 19, goes to post for what should be a cracker of a sprint handicap.
Khanjar was a big market drifter before dotting up at Ripon (6f, good) last month. He’s gone up 9lb for that 3l success and is now 2-2 over this trip. He looks a big player and is the clear favourite at around 9/2 at the time of writing.
DEODAR was second in last year’s Listed Doncaster Stakes (6f, soft) but that remains his best effort. He returned to Town Moor to win over the same C&D (good to firm) on his reappearance but was then too keen when running here over 7f (good) last month, when a beaten favourite.
The return to 6f ought to suit him, as should a 2lb drop. If the application of blinkers also proves positive, he looks the value in this race to me, at around 8/1. Ryan Moore is booked. If all of that helps him produce anything within 3-4lb of that Doncaster Stakes run, he’d look well treated here.
Ingra Tor ran a stinker at York last time, when favourite for a similar race to this. He won over 6f on the Rowley Mile on his penultimate start. If you can forgive that latest effort, he’d also look interesting as an each-way play at around 9/1. On the form of that Newmarket win, he still looks well treated.
Another at longer odds who could make the frame is Aasser. He drops back from a couple of second-placed efforts over 7f. He went close at Ayr last time and the first-time cheekpieces he tried there are now swapped for a visor. William Buick rides for Karl Burke. I wouldn’t expect to see him played until late but he’ll get every bit of the pace he needs over this shorter trip and could nab a place late on.
15:35 Princess Of Wales’s Close Brothers Stakes (Group 2) – 1m4f
The consistent MOSTAHDAF can gain due reward for that strong level of form in this Group 2 event.
The son of Frankel has won four of his seven starts and being second in two of the other three, the only serious blip coming in last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes.
He finished that campaign with Group 3 success on the nearby Rowley Course in the Darley Stakes, matching that effort with another win at that level in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown Park in April.
There was no disgrace in being beaten 5l by Bay Bridge in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes (Group 3) back at that venue, nor when stepped up in trip and into Group 2 company and running second to Broome in the Hardwicke Stakes (1m4f, good to firm; first-time cheekpieces) at Royal Ascot last time.
You can pretty much set your clock by his performance here and for that reason, he is selected.
Yibir has greater talent than my pick, he’s a Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner after all (where he beat Broome ½l last November at Del Mar). He ran below par when beaten on the Rowley Course by Living Legend in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes in April and has since been third in the Group 1 Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park.
If he brings his ‘A’ game he’ll be a huge player and I’d expect him to reverse placings with Living Legend, who is trained by Charlie and Mark Johnston, three-time winners of this event in the last decade.
It’s not easy to see any of the other trip being good enough to win this.
16:10 Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (Listed Race) – 1m
The penultimate race on day one see eight go to post, with the clear favourite being MIGHTY ULYSSES for the John and Thady Gosden yard. After their recent differences, the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori are teaming up again and they do so with the top-rated runner in this field (BHA mark 113).
A Rowley Mile winner in May (good; first-time hood), he stepped up markedly on that when a close second in the Silver Bowl Handicap at Haydock next time. The Gosdens then showed what they thought of him, entering him in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time.
It almost proved to be an inspired move, as when Frankie found some daylight on the outside up the home straight, the well-backed son of Ulysses had every chance. However, he couldn’t find any extra close home and lost fourth place in the dying strides, behind 2,000 Guineas winner Coroebus.
That was still a very smart effort and a reproduction of it, now dropping back to Listed company, would make him very tough to beat.
Berkshire Shadow was one place and 1l behind the selection that day, having run fifth in the Guineas at 80/1, beaten 5l. Clearly very useful, he is unexposed but doesn’t give the impression that he has quite as much more to come as Mighty Ulysses.
Of greater concern to our pick could be The Acropolis, who took a big step back in the right direction at the Curragh in Listed company recently. He looks a bit of each-way value at 13/2 if the ‘dead eight’ do make it to post.
Albahr ran well below par at Meydan when last seen in January. He’s been given time since and was a Canadian Group 1 winner (1m, good) last year, as well as having won at this level at Salisbury. Is he has been revived then he would be a huge player and is also very interesting at 7/1.
16:40 Weatherbys Hamilton Handicap (Class 3) – 1m
If a gelding operation has allowed Noble Dynasty to get back on track then he’d be entitled to claims here, given the form of his Thirsk win (1m, good) last season, before it all went pear-shaped.
He represents Charlie Appleby, who is seeking a hat-trick of wins in this race and at 7/1 he looks worth a small each-way play.
Stablemate Echo Point is well up to running a big race here under James Doyle. His recent form is all over 1m2f or further (didn’t stay 1m4f) but you’d have to have a fairly significant query as to whether the drop back to a mile will see things getting a bit lively for him.
Aside from a blip at Goodwood on his penultimate start, Evocative Spark has had three good runs this season since joining George Boughey. He’s up 8lb for winning at Chester (7f, good) last time and being by Frankel there is every chance he’ll have more to offer now back over 1m. He is feared.
However, ENFORCED represents a red-hot trainer in Roger Varian, arrives in cracking form after a novice win at Brighton (1m, good to firm), followed by a 0-85 handicap success over today’s C&D (good) last time. He may have got away lightly with just a 5lb rise for that and he looks the one with the most potential for progress today.