HORSE RACING: With leading pundit Charlie McCann. This week the former Talksport tipster picks out potential winners at Newbury, Newmarket and Ripon, including the Great St Wilfrid.
Newbury stage a cracking card this afternoon with four of the five juveniles going to post for the Listed Washington Singer Stakes unbeaten and all having won their latest start. There are going to be some bubbles burst at the Berkshire track this afternoon but the hope is that Native Khan (2.00) can maintain his unbeaten record having impressed at Newmarket on debut belying his starting price of 14/1.
Zaidan will carry 3lb more than his four rivals for winning the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and he looks sure to go off favourite given King Torus who finished fourth at the Royal meeting has subsequently franked the form in no uncertain way. His main target next year is the Kentucky Derby and Zaidan is a highly-promising juvenile but I will support Native Khan until he meets with defeat.
Kite Wood (2.30) became the first three-year-old for eight years to land the Geoffrey Freer Stakes last year and he can follow up especially with showers forecast for the area in the build up to the meeting. Runner up in last year’s St Leger Kite Wood got very warm at Royal Ascot ahead of the Gold Cup where he palpably failed to give his running. If back to anything like his best form he will be difficult to beat although he does carry a 4lb penalty.
One thing’s for sure a grey will win the 2.45 at Newmarket with 16 of them taking part in the annual race for greys’ only. Last year’s winner Sarah’s Art looks to be coming to hand but she is 11lbs higher than when successful last year and a chance is taken on Witchry who remains very well-handicapped on his best form and would be a confident selection if there was significant rain.
Unbeaten Bated Breath (3.20) must give weight away all round and is unproven on ground softer than good, but I consider him a potential champion sprinter and if that is the case he must go close in the 6f handicap. His trainer Roger Charlton has won the National Stud Stakes in two of the last six years and has compared Bated Breath favourably with some of the other top class sprinters he has had through his hands in previous years.
High numbers have dominated the Great St Wilfred Handicap the highlight of the Ripon season in recent years although Markab bucked that trend from the middle of the track in stall 10 last year on fast ground. Tajneed (3.30) has won all three starts over today’s C&D including the corresponding race in 2008. Drawn in stall 20 he is the 7/1 favourite with StanJames.com at the time of writing but he must be a leading player for sprint-king Dandy Nicholls with any further rain a big plus.
The lightly-raced Akhmatova (4.05) has been raised 4lbs for finishing second at York last time and has yet to race on anything other than fast ground on turf, but she is certainly bred to appreciate softer conditions and she can return to winning ways in the fillies’ handicap.