Steve Hughes previews a hectic day of racing on Saturday
We have an embarrassment of riches for punters with big meetings at Ascot, Newmarket and York amongst a feast of racing action across the country. There are two big handicaps with the Bunbury Cup and John Smiths Cup to look forward to, but there are some quality sprints, notably the July Cup at Newmarket. Beringer was placed for the each-way bet on Friday (advised 13/2).
Newmarket 1.40: Gilgamesh & Spanish City
Two horses looking to shape into 7f specialists are favoured over this distance.
I fancied Gilgamesh in the strongly run 6f Wokingham at Ascot, but he just did not have the raw pace to lie up at halfway that day. He produced his trademark strong finish that day and it will be seen to better effect back up to his optimum distance where he 4-6 in handicaps. One of his defeats was when drawn on the wrong side of the track in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, but he has since won at York and looks the ideal type for these big fields.
Spanish City creeps into the bottom of the weights and is rewarding connections patience after some injury issues earlier in his career. He was an eyecatching sixth in that Victoria Cup at Ascot, travelling smoothly into the contest and proved his stamina for 7f when winning at Doncaster next time. He was slightly disappointing in the closing stages at York last time, but perhaps that race came a bit soon after his previous outings and he has had a month’s refresher since.
York 1.55: Muthmir
Probably beaten by the draw at Sandown last week, the veteran sprinter Muthmir can make amends today.
He flew home from his wide draw at Sandown, getting to within a neck of Judicial, but the winner had simply been better placed from his berth nearer the rail. Today’s draw should make no difference and this flat, straight track should be ideal for Muthmir to find an earlier rhythm.
He had previously won a listed contest at Haydock, despite idling late on, but should get a good pace to aim at today, which is what he likes and this former Group 2 winner still has the class at the age of eight to outspeed these rivals.
Newmarket 2.15: Dreamfield & Sands of Mali
With no Harry Angel, or the retired Merchant Navy, the way is clear for a new sprinting star and two inexperienced horses are favoured.
Evidence of the first two days here suggests a draw near either rail would be ideal and Dreamfield will be positioned nearest the far rail. He looked a different class to his Wokingham rivals at Royal Ascot, cruising to the front 2f out only for inexperience to get the better of him and Bacchus nailed him close home. That saw his unbeaten record go, but this is a horse blessed with tremendous speed on a track that favours front-runners. Fast ground certainly suits him too as his previous Ascot win at odds-on in a handicap proved.
Sands of Mali gets the 3yo weight allowance and was arguably unlucky to lose the Commonwealth Cup having been slightly isolated on the near side. He finished off his race very strongly that day, a regular trait of his and is a fast improving horse. He showed real natural speed when winning the Gimcrack at York last summer, but his wins at Chantilly at Haydock this term confirm that not only has he trained on as a 3yo but he is getting better.
York 3.40: Thundering Blue & Brorocco
Two horses who have shown all their best form in big fields are taken against the field here.
Thundering Blue is a confirmed hold-up horse and as such was always going to struggle at Royal Ascot where there is such a short straight on the round course. He is far better judged on his course and distance win in May where he had enough time to eat into the front-runners advantage on the far longer run-in. He produced some epic last to first performances last season, notably when landing a big pot at Sandown in September and at the age of five is probably still improving.
Brorocco’s big day came when winning the Dubai Duty Free at Newbury last autumn, over this 10f trip and has not had the races run to suit since. He was a highly commendable fifth in the Cambridgeshire over a furlong shorter, but has been beaten in four races this term. His first run was again over only 9f and his last two efforts in small fields where he can’t get enough cover. However he was a fine second at Epsom in between and he should get plenty of cover and a strong pace to race off today which will be much more to his liking.
1pt win – Gilgamesh – 1.40 Newmarket – 6/1 Betfred, Totesport
0.75pts each-way – Spanish City – 1.40 Newmarket – 9/1 general
1pt win – Muthmir – 1.55 York – 9/2 Betfred, Totesport
0.75pts each-way – Dreamfield – 2.15 Newmarket – 8/1 general
1pt win – Sands of Mali – 2.15 Newmarket – 8/1 general
1pt win – Thundering Surf – 3.40 York – 13/2 Ladbrokes, Coral, SportingBet
0.75pts each-way – Brorocco – 3.40 York – 10/1 general (1/5 odds first 5)