Steve Hughes gives his best bets on a cracking Saturday’s racing
There is no doubt that the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock is the highlight of the day where Harry Angel bids to bounce back from his unfortunate run at Royal Ascot. However I have an each-way alternative for a horse almost certain to revel on the ground. There is plenty of good action elsewhere though so I also have suggestions for Ascot and Kempton.
Ascot 2.45: Mubtasim & Breanski
As usual with big field handicaps on the straight course at Ascot I am looking for two confirmed hold up performers that can pounce fast and late and hopefully I have identified two such horses.
Mubtasim would be the definite first choice. He won a valuable sales race at Doncaster as a juvenile in a field of 19 and was a fine third here in the Jersey Stakes last summer with 20 runners. Therefore the hustle and bustle of a big field does not bother him. He lost his way for a while but is now being ridden with restraint and I fancy he can reward connections for the change of tactics soon. He flew home for fifth in a valuable Chelmsford handicap last week – a track that favours pacesetters and was unlucky in running when in midfield in a similar type race over course and distance in July. His new mark of 100 looks generous on his best form.
Breanski must defy a big step up in grade, but won in the style of a class horse at Doncaster last time and the handicapper only upped him 4lbs – it looked worth far more than that. He has enjoyed a new lease of life with Jedd O’Keeffe and with a drop to 7f. A fast ground specialist he too is more comfortable coming through from the back and is well worth a chance in a big money race whilst he is so progressive.
Kempton 3.15: Honey Man
Whilst a don’t like backing a shortish favourite in a big field I can readily make an exception with Honey Man in this London Mile final.
I think there is a lot of deadwood in this race – a contest where many horses qualified for this final during the winter campaign, but are not in the same form now. Honey Man however comes into this in red-hot form and remains unexposed on only his second handicap start.
He was impressive here last time when recovering from being shuffled much further back in the field than ideal early on. He flew to the front 2f out, never looking like relinquishing the lead and was arguably value for more than a ¾l win over Hakeem. A 6lb rise is fair and it looks significant that Silvestre de Sousa comes here to ride him rather than take up options elsewhere in the country.
Haydock 3.35: Mam’Selle & Reshoun
By race time the going is likely to be heavy at Haydock and I cannot choose between two horses who have been struggling under faster conditions of late, but both of whom should relish the cut.
Mam’Selle ran a cracker on her first start of 2018 at Goodwood in May – also the only time this year she has encountered going softer than good. Since then she has been well beaten on fast going and in class 1 company. This race represents a more realistic level on more suitable going. In her last handicap she was a fine staying on third in terrible conditions at Ascot over 12f and the extra 2f today should be in her favour.
Reshoun is an unexposed horse who has achieved little in four fast ground races in 2018, but who looked most progressive last autumn. He bolted up off a mark of 86 at Doncaster on good-to-soft having run well in defeat on testing going at Leicester the time before. His poor form this season has seen his rating drop back down to 90 and that can be exploited on the different ground.
Haydock 4.15: Eqtidaar
Harry Angel is a very worthy favourite, being unbeaten away from Ascot and having proved he can cope with heavy ground when running away with this prize twelve months ago. However he endured a nasty experience at Ascot and cannot be entirely relied upon at the stalls as a result. Instead go with Eqtidaar as an each-way alternative.
His big day came at the Royal meeting when landing the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup. Whilst that was on fast ground, his action suggests he would prefer it much softer and he hung under pressure as if to underline that point.
Well beaten in the July Cup since on fast going, I would prefer to look at his form with cut instead. He hacked up on debut at Nottingham – a rarity for a Michael Stoute trained horse, and was a very promising second at Ascot on his seasonal return in May at a time when the stable’s horses were needing the run. Jim Crowley prefers this lad to the much shorter in the betting Tasleet which is of note.
0.75pts each-way – Mubtasim – 2.45 Ascot – 12/1 Bet365
0.5pts each-way – Breanski – 2.45 Ascot – 16/1 Ladbrokes
1pt win – Honey Man – 3.15 Kempton – 11/4 general
1pt win – Mam’Selle – 3.35 Haydock – 100/30 general
1pt win – Reshoun – 3.35 Haydock – 15/2 Skybet
0.75pts each-way – Eqtidaar – 4.15 Haydock – 28/1 Paddy Power