Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on Saturday at Newmarket, York and Ascot. View selections below.
SLADE POWER (3.50) can reinforce his right to be acclaimed Europe’s top sprinter by landing the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Edward Lynam landed the dream double at Royal Ascot, with my selection bagging the Diamond Jubilee and stablemate Sole Power smuggling the King’s Stand Stakes booty back to Ireland with a devastating turn of foot. All Sole Power’s victories have come over five furlongs, however, and this stiff finish may well blunt his late turbo charge. There are no such worries with Slade Power and any further rain at HQ would not dilute his prospects. Lowly-drawn horses have held sway in the July Cup in the past decade but stall 13 shouldn’t be insurmountable as there are fancied sprinters drawn alongside in the shape of Hot Streak, Noozhoh Canarias and Aljamaaheer. If the heavens open and the track rides soft, Jack Dexter could hit the frame at a massive price.
The 666bet Bunbury Cup is always a typical Saturday head-scratcher but ABSEIL (3.15) can be forgiven his slightly disappointing Royal Hunt Cup effort when he became a bit lit up by the big occasion. Sir Michael Stoute’s much-improved four-year-old is back on home turf at HQ and the master trainer has reached for a hood as a calming influence. Horsted Keynes is an obvious threat after his fine run in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at the royal fixture and it’s too early to write off Absolutely So after his Royal Ascot flop, when he probably left his race behind after getting edgy in the preliminaries.
With 10 races televised on C4, armchair punters are in for a treat and the John Smith’s Cup at York is a tremendous midsummer betting handicap. Dual course winner Chancery was top of my shortlist but his outside draw is a real stinker. Instead, QUEENSBURY RULES (2.55) wins a narrow vote to give Seb Sanders a chance to bounce back into the limelight. The former champion jockey has struggled to pick up good mounts in subsequent seasons but William Haggas will see him as a safe pair of hands for Queensbury Rules. Lightly-raced through injury, Queensbury Rules was sent off second favourite for the Royal Hunt Cup under Ryan Moore but failed to see much daylight up the crowded stands’ rail and wasn’t knocked about. The four-year-old ran well enough over a mile at York last August, running on into fifth behind Mont Ras in a 16-runner Class 2 handicap and Haggas clearly sees the merit in stepping him up another two furlongs here. Punters need to second-guess the weather, and John Gosden’s mud-lover Nabucco would enter calculations in the event of heavy rain.
KINGSGATE NATIVE (3.30) has been a grand servant to sprint king Robert Cowell and the sprightly nine-year-old is fancied to end a frustrating run of near misses by scooping the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes. He has clocked up a good few miles since landing the Nunthorpe Stakes over course and distance (for John Best) as a two-year-old but proved he is no back number by making the likes of Sole Power and Hot Streak pull out the stops this season. Kingsgate Native underlined his current wellbeing by running second To Extortionist in last Saturday’s Coral Charge at Sandown and this looks a bit easier.
There is also some tip-top action at Ascot where GRAPHIC (2.30) would appreciate a few showers to take any possible jar out of the ground. He landed the odds when Haggas despatched him to France in search of an easy surface, winning a Group 3 at Maisons-Lafitte with something to spare. A repeat of his earlier effort in the Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom, when chasing home French Navy, places him firmly in the firing line.
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