Legend set to grow at Newmarket

Steve Hughes looks forward to “Super Saturday” in England with three top class meetings all vying for attention.

Despite criticism for planning three top class meetings on the same day, punters are spoilt for choice today with Newmarket staging the final of three days of the July Meeting featuring the July Cup. York has one of its many highlights with the John Smiths Cup and Ascot stages a mix of pattern races and competitive handicaps.  I am focussing on the fixtures at York and Newmarket for today’s tips, despite a plethora of non-runners – York for fast ground and Newmarket due to soft ground.

Newmarket 2.05: Legend Rising

Martyn Meade has been doing well with his small string in recent months, none more so than with Legend Rising a 3yo acquired from the Richard Hannon stable.

Twice a winner in the spring on softish ground as a juvenile, he lost his way after running down the field at Royal Ascot.  However Meade has encouraged a resurgence in form this year and the heavy rain that fell on the track on Thursday will serve to greatly enhance his chances.

After a sighter at Yarmouth in April when a not knocked about fifth, he was an impressive winner on his favoured soft ground at Chester’s big May Meeting.  Held back until Royal Ascot to protect his handicap mark he did well to stay on into eighth in the Britannia Handicap despite the ground drying out far too much for him.  This stiff mile will suit well and there will be more than enough dig in the ground for him here.

York 2.20: Continuum

An each-way fancy for me at Royal Ascot, Continuum ran well enough without ever threatening to make a place.  There was enough encouragement though for me to keep him on the “to follow” list and this looks another ideal opportunity for him to go well at a big price.

He made a fine start to his career last season for the Cecil yard, landing back-to-back fast ground wins over 12f at Haydock and then Salisbury.  Fine runs in defeat followed at Haydock and Newbury before slower ground halted his improvement in the autumn.  Sold to join Peter Hedger in the autumn, Continuum has run with some credit at a very high level.

Fourth in two listed contests with cut in the ground, I did not feel he was given the best of rides in the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal meeting, being asked to make up plenty of ground wide in mid-race.  He kept on well enough in the straight, and I think this extra 2f on fast ground will be an aid to him.  First time cheekpieces are applied and the booking of senior jockey Joe Fanning could be a positive.

York 3.30: G Force

Despite a serious lack of experience, G Force has shown plenty in the first half of this season to suggest he could become one of David O’Meara’s star horses and already looks up to winning races better than this listed company.

Another horse to have transferred from Richard Hannon, having finished a promising second on debut at Newbury last autumn over 7f, O’Meara has clearly decided this horse is all about speed and has kept him to the minimum trip all year.

A satisfactory return when winning a weak maiden at Newcastle was far exceeded when he obliterated a strong field at York’s Dante meeting the following month on good ground.  He might have been given too much to do when only third at Sandown last time, having been heavily backed for his listed race debut and we already know he loves this flat track at York.  Market rival Kingsgate Choice is a strong opponent, but I feel he is best with gaps between races and it is only seven days since having a hard race at Sandown.

Newmarket 3.50: Slade Power & Noozhoh Canarias

Both the Power’s line up here, but it is the younger Slade who looks better a. on soft ground and b. over 6f.  In a race that arguably lacks strength in depth for a Group 1 he looks the stand out, although I have to have an each-way saver on Noozhoh Canarias who looks potentially one of the best horses ever to come out of Spain.

Slade Power has a 50% strike rate in his career and already had a couple of Group 3 wins to his credit before a narrow defeat at the highest level in the Sprint Cup at Haydock last autumn.  He went on to achieve a decisive success in the Champions Day sprint at Ascot, confirming his ability to handle soft ground.  This season he has progressed again, making short work of a Group 3 field on terrible ground at the Curragh before showing speed to burn when landing his first Group 1 – the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot.  Tactically versatile, he will take all the beating.

Confidence in Noozhoh Canarias as a chief rival would have been even stronger but for the rain, however this enthusiastic front-runner could still take some catching dropped back in trip.  He has been far too good for his fellow Spanish horses when run in his home country, but has proved a fine match when sent abroad, only going down narrowly in a Group 1 at Longchamp’s Arc meeting last season over 7f – he was still on the bridle a furlong out before just giving best.  He ran well for a long way in the 2000 Guineas, but that mile might have stretched his stamina.  Front-runners are often favoured in the July Cup, so despite the ground he is a big enough price to have an –each-way saver.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Legend Rising – 2.05 Newmarket (7/1 general)

1pt each-way – Continuum – 2.20 York (14/1 general)

1pt win – G Force – 3.30 York (7/2 Totesport, Betfred)

2pts win – Slade Power – 3.50 Newmarket (11/4 Stan James)

1pt each-way – Noozhoh Canarias – 3.50 Newmarket (6/1 general)

Betfred Horse Racing

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