Horse Racing: With leading pundit Charlie McCann. This week the former Talksport tipster picks out potential winners at the big Haydock and Leopardstown meetings.
Earlier in the week rain was expected at Haydock Park this afternoon but the forecast is much better now and it looks as if the Sprint Cup will be run on perfect ground and there ought to be no excuses for one of the big sprints of the flat racing season.
It could be a very good day for Aidan O’Brien on both sides of the Irish Sea with Starspangledbanner (3.35) likely to go off a short priced favourite (currently 7/4 with StanJames.com) for Haydock’s feature.
A high-class horse in his native Australia the Coolmore operation bought the colt earlier in the year and, after a prep run at York, he was well-backed before winning the Golden Jubilee at Ascot’s Royal meeting. He then followed up in the July Cup at Newmarket before finishing runner up over an inadequate 5f at York last time.
The return to 6f ought to suit the four-year-old and as long as the ground continues to dry out he is going to be very hard to beat although I’m not convinced the draw in stall 5 is ideal. At a bigger price I can pass on a good word for Markab who may try and make all under the stands’ rail.
We make Rip Van Winkle (3.45 Leopardstown) 4/6 favourite to land the Irish Champion Stakes for Aidan O’Brien who saddles half the field six-runner field with Cape Blanco and Beethoven supplementing the recent Juddmonte International winner. If there was any rain in Ireland I would be very sweet on the chances of Famous Name at 25/1 but if the conditions remain quick Rip Van Winkle ought to confirm his York running with Twice Over.
Irish Champion Stakes:
4-6 Rip Van Winkle
10-3 Twice Over
6 Cape Blanco
10 Sea Lord
25 Famous Name
Music Show holds a 2-1 advantage over Lillie Langtry so far this season but it would be no surprise if the latter, who ran below par at Newmarket last time, levelled matters on home soil. Music Show ideally needs a fast pace at a mile and there is every chance of the race turning into a tactical battle unless Spacious wants to make it a true test.
2 Music Show
3 Lillie Langtry
8 Jacqueline Quest
16 Gile Na Greine
20 Hen Night
We have seen that O’Brien has fancied runners in all three of today’s Group 1 contests but how many winners will he actually have? We at StanJames.com bet:
No of Gp 1 winners Aidan O’Brien will saddle in Britain & Ireland on Saturday?
Unbeaten top-class juvenile Awzaan has been off the track since disappointing in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas and it is interesting to see connections persevering with the colt over a mile. When I saw him in the flesh in the spring he hadn’t grown a great deal since his 2-y-old days and he looked more of a sprinter to me. He could be a different class to today’s rivals but I like the look of Secrecy (2.00 Hay) whose third to Sea Lord was franked by the facile win of Poet’s Voice at Goodwood last weekend.
Lady Éclair has been a revelation this year and she could easily land her eighth win of the year but I just favour stablemate Becausewecan (3.05 Hay) in the big betting race of the day the Old Borough Cup. The selection’s stamina looked to give way over 2m last time and the drop back in trip should suit; he has an excellent draw in stall 2.
Measuring Time (4.45 H) meets nothing of the calibre of Native Khan stepped up to a mile for the first time and whilst the Hannon two-year-olds have not been as invincible in recent weeks as they were previously he ought to provide Ryan Moore with a welcome winner. The champion jockey is returning from a wrist injury which has sidelined him at a crucial part of the season and it looks as if Paul Hanagan will be the first northern based champion since Kevin Darley in 2000.
I was at Windsor last weekend to see selection Morache Music (4.10) land the odds and I am slightly surprised to see him turned out again although connections must believe him to be very well-treated despite carrying top-weight. He appeared ill at ease on the soft ground at the Berkshire course and he is again recommended although the draw in stall 1 is a worry.
Alan King’s horses weren’t quite right last year and I am looking forward to a better jumps season for the excellent trainer in 2010/11 and perhaps Pouvoir (2.40 Strat) can start the ball rolling. Stable jockey Choc Thornton will miss the first couple of months of the season after a dreadful incident at Newton Abbot mid-summer and Sam Thomas takes the mount this afternoon.