Steve Hughes has selections from all three feature meetings in Britain on Saturday
The Sprint Cup at Haydock is today’s feature and I have two fancies for the big race which sadly has lost its two major stars – at least making it a wide open affair for betting purposes. There are big handicaps staged at both Ascot and Kempton as well as Haydock and I have selections for all those valuable prizes.
Ascot 2.45: Ripp Orf
With a fantastic course and distance record reading 131254 – all in big handicaps with fields of fifteen or more, Ripp Orf is clearly very well suited to the strong gallop and straight undulating track. As such it is not hard to see him being on the scene once more this afternoon.
He won this very race last season off a mark just 1lb lower and he loves coming through from the back of the field late on, something that often works here. He is in good form too having finished second at Newbury last time in a race that was not run to suit and on ground arguably softer than ideal.
The evidence of yesterday’s racing on the straight track at Ascot suggests a high draw is an advantage, especially with the stalls placed on the near rail. Therefore a stall just two from that barrier looks a positive too.
Kempton 3.15: Motawaj
The last run of Motawaj was surely too bad to be true and I prefer to focus on his vastly progressive form up to that point in 2019.
He showed promise in maidens last season without setting the world alight, but that left him on an exploitable opening mark of 74 going into this campaign. He was beaten first time out at Nottingham but it was his performance in a qualifier for this race in July over course and distance that marked him out as a quality performer.
He produced a storming run on the outside to come home almost 4l clear of the field, relishing the synthetic surface. He proved that to be no fluke with a 6l win at Sandown next time over the mile. He lost his action on fast ground at Newmarket last time, but there was clearly no major issue for him to be returning so soon. This race looks below the class and strength in depth of recent renewals, so Motawaj could be up to conceding weight all round.
Haydock 3.35: Blakeney Point
There were definite signs that Blakeney Point was on his way back after a spell in the doldrums at York last time and he could offer each-way value for this valuable handicap.
He might only have finished tenth ultimately but he was going as well as anything 2f out only to drift left and fade late on over 2m. He might have won over that trip as a youngster in the past when better handicapped, but his overall profile suggests that trip is slightly on the long side. He won a listed prize over 13f at Chester this time last year on rain softened ground and as he gets older that little bit of cut does seem to bring out the best in him.
He has run well twice here in the Old Newton Cup over 12f in the past, but the extra 2f should see him in a better light and a number of unplaced efforts this term have seen him drop to a very generous looking rating of 98 given he ran so much better last time.
Haydock 4.10: Hello Youmzain & Fairyland
Three year olds have generally dominated the sprinting scene this term (with the honourable exception of Battaash who is not here today) and I think a couple of the younger generation are the ones to focus on here.
Preference would be for the more lightly raced Hello Youmzain who reappears for the first time since a fine third in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. That was yet another good performance on a soft surface, that he will encounter once again today and as a son of Kodiac that is always likely to be his preferred going. He won a group 2 in France under testing conditions last autumn and has the natural pace to be able to lie up with the gallop at the highest level.
I do think Fairyland is worth a punt each-way given she should also be bred for soft ground. A group 1 winner as a juvenile, she has yet to hit the winners enclosure this term but has always given a good account of herself. She lacked the speed for 5f in the Nunthorpe, but was a good third in the July Cup and did not stay the Guineas distance in the spring. 6F on testing ground could be an ideal combination whilst the defection of Ten Sovereigns will surely lead to a jockey shake up on the O’Brien horses and a more senior jockey on board the selection.
1pt each-way – Ripp Orf – 2.45 Ascot – 5/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Motawaj – 3.15 Kempton – 5/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Blakeney Point – 3.35 Haydock – 9/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Hello Youmzain – 4.10 Haydock – 13/2 Bet365
0.5pts each-way – Fairyland – 4.10 Haydock – 12/1 general