Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at Ascot, Newmarket and York. View selections below
A magnificent days racing with top class action from Ascot, Newmarket and York with top-class Group 1 action and some of the most valuable and prestigious handicaps in the racing calendar.
The Group 1 action is the Darley July Cup over 6f with some of the best sprinters in the world taking part; South African raider Shea Shea is the fastest horse in the race but I’m not convinced he is as good at six as he is over five furlongs and he is reluctantly overlooked having had the burden of my cash when, arguably, unlucky at Royal Ascot last month.
The Jersey Stakes winner Gale Force Ten, trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, is a fascinating runner and is bidding to follow the footsteps of the stable’s Mozart who landed the Jersey Stakes before routing his field in the July Cup back in 2001. Ryan Moore takes over on the three-year-old who is blinkered for the first-time instead of wearing his normal cheek-pieces and the form of his Jersey Stakes success was given a boost when the second horse Montiridge ran out a fluent winner on Thursday.
Preference, however, is for the Diamond Jubilee runner up Society Rock (3.50) who can reverse Royal Ascot running with winner Lethal Force given the selection was not given the best of rides by jockey Kieren Fallon last time. It has not been the best of seasons for the former champion but he has an excellent opportunity of silencing his many doubters with another Group 1 success.
Later on in the card I will be disappointed if Pether’s Moon (5.35) can’t put behind his Ascot disappointment when he was constantly denied a run and passed the post full of running. He takes on older horses for the first time this afternoon but with the in-form Mark Johnston’s Blue Wave, visored for the first time, in the line-up he looks sure to have something to run at.
At Ascot Aljamaaheer (2.30) deserves to get his head in front in the Group 2 Summer Mile and he can confirm Queen Anne running with Trade Storm who is 3lb worse off with the selection than at the Royal meeting. The latter is held in high regard by connections, however, but continues to fluff his lines at the start of his races.
Commend (4.50) is frustrating but is beginning to look well-handicapped and ran his best race of the season over a mile at Salisbury last time; William Buick takes over this afternoon and he is given one last chance from a mark he is surely capable of exploiting if things go his way.
I think Labienus (5.25) can be given another chance back on turf as the rain had got into the ground at Redcar when beaten over a mile back in May; he continues to progress on Kempton’s polytrack and Ted Durcan, who has ridden him for all three career wins, is again in the plate.
In the opening 5f handicap Masamah (1.55) can reward each way support in a cracking sprint; the selection just failed to get home over an additional furlong at Haydock last weekend and this former King George Stakes winner at Glorious Goodwood can show he is no back-number with the handicapper beginning to relent and talented apprentice Darren Egan in the plate.
At York Montaser (2.20) who missed the Northumberland Plate because of the rain can follow up his C&D win back in May in what promises to be an excellent listed race for stayers. Trainer David Simcock has his string in excellent form and Jim Crowley, who won on the colt last May at Haydock, takes over from Jamie Spencer who is required at Ascot.
The big betting race of the weekend is the John Smith’s Cup and Stencive would have been the selection had he not been drawn in stall 21 and a more tentative each way shout goes to Saptapadi (2.55) who has returned to Brian Ellison after an unproductive time in Australia and is well handicapped on bits of form including when fifth in this corresponding event from an 11lb better mark two years ago.