Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up six to follow on Saturday at Newmarket, York, Ascot & Chester. View selections below
PUNTERS will wake up to an embarrassment of riches on Saturday morning, with top-class action at Newmarket, York and Ascot.
The Darley July Cup has attracted its traditional star-studded field at HQ and favourite Delegator looks sure to give his supporters a great run for their money. However, Australian raider STAR WITNESS (3.35) acquitted himself with distinction at Royal Ascot, posting two placed efforts inside five days, and will be a tough nut to crack. He worked his way to the front a furlong out in the Golden Jubliee Stakes but was treading water in the final 100 yards as Society Rock and Monsieur Chevalier swept past. By all accounts Star Witness has really come in his coat over the past couple of weeks and will surely benefit from a slightly more restrained ride.
The John Smith’s Cup at York is one of the major betting handicaps of high summer and the finish should be fought out by a select band of improving four-year-olds representing the top southern yards. Pekan Star, Green Destiny, Modun and BEACHFIRE (3.15) all hold winning claims but the last-named gets the vote for the John Gosden/William Buick combo. Beachfire came from last to first when scooping the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot on rain-softened ground, so any more showers would not perplex connections. He has had only nine career starts and boasts an impressive 132511131 record. Beachfire’s 5lb penalty won’t make things easy against the likes of Green Destiny, who finished in the ruck at Royal Ascot after a sloppy start, and the hat-tricking seeking Pekan Star, but he looks up to the task. If the rain does come, I would also anticipate a bold showing from Merchant Of Dubai and Moyenne Corniche at big prices.
My best bet at York is old stalwart BORDERLESCOTT (2.05) in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes. He loves the track, having bagged the 2009 Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on the Knavesmire, and usually comes into his own at this time of the season. Borderlescott was unlucky on his last outing, in the Betfred Temple Stakes at Haydock, when blinded midway through the race after the rider of ‘Budapest Bullet’ Overdose belatedly jettisoned the blinds which had been applied for stalls entry. My selection did very well to recover from that potentially dangerous incident and he can still go a right old lick.
FOX HUNT (2.40) has a tough task under top weight in the John Smith’s Silver Cup over 1m 6f but Mark Johnston’s rapidly-improving stayer is unbeaten in both starts since sporting a visor. Fox Hunt posted a most convincing victory in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot and fifth horse Halicarnassus boosted the form by mopping up last Saturday’s competitive Old Newton Cup at Haydock. Rock A Doodle Doo, fourth at Royal Ascot, enjoys a 7lb pull but Fox Hunt continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Feature event at Ascot is the Group 2 Summer Mile and CITYSCAPE (3.45) gets the vote. His participation, as always, is ground dependent, as Roger Charlton’s classy five-year-old requires an easy surface. Cityscape hasn’t encountered genuinely soft ground so far this season, which makes his third behind Canford Cliffs and Goldikova in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the royal meeting even more meritorious. He is taken to reverse early-season Sandown form with Dick Turpin, who must shoulder a 3lb penalty.
There is another entertaining card at Chester, where WELLS LYRICAL (4.00) looks sure to give a prominent showing. He pulled too hard for his own good over 2m 2f at Pontefract and had no more to give when My Arch and Dazinski swept past him inside the final two furlongs. Hopefully, Wells Lyrical will settle better over this shorter trip.