Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot, Newmarket and Redcar on Saturday. View selections below.
HILLSTAR (2.35) will relish a slight ease in grade and looks up to winning the Gigaset Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot. Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old, winner of the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine on fast ground last October, hasn’t quite clicked into top gear this season. Soft ground seemed to blunt his speed at Newbury a fortnight ago as he laboured into fourth behind The Corsican. Hillstar had earlier refused to settle at Goodwood and was eventually allowed to stride along in front, before weakening out of contention in the Glorious Stakes. A reproduction of his previous effort at Newmarket when fifth, not beaten far, in a Group 2 contest won by Big Orange would put Hillstar, an Ascot course and distance winner, bang in the firing line. Market rival Romsdal ran out of his skin (third) in the King George won by Postponed but finished tailed off behind Agent Murphy at Newbury next time when unable to cope with the deep ground.
BUCKSTAY (4.20) has crept in at the bottom of the weights and holds sound claims in the Totescoop6 Challenge Cup. The way he rattled home in fifth in the Ayr Gold Cup two weeks ago underlined the fact that this extra furlong will play to his strengths. Indeed, Buckstay scored over this trip at Newmarket on quick ground in July, with first-time cheek-pieces probably making the difference in a tight finish. Buckstay is 7lb better off with Mr Win for a head defeat this summer and his fourth to Speculative Bid over this course distance in the Victoria Cup is another solid piece of form. Make It Up has looked a progressive three-year-old, while Heaven’s Guest, winner of this contest two years ago, could go close to bagging another big Saturday handicap for Richard Fahey.
At Newmarket, ESOTERIQUE (3.30) sets a gold-plate standard in the Sun Chariot Stakes and this Group 1 event, restricted to fillies and mares, appears at the mercy of the French raider. Andre Fabre ran her in quick succession at Deaville’s August festival, with Esoterique beating highly-regarding Territories over a mile only seven days after giving Muhaarar quite a scare over six furlongs. Throw in an excellent Royal Ascot effort when chasing home so-impressive Solow in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, and the case for Esoterique is crystal clear. The three-year-old division don’t possess her quality and last year’s heroine, Integral, is the one to beat.
There is a 1m 4f fillies’ handicap on the support card and LEMONCETTA (4.40) has been progressing quite steadily. John Gosden’s three-year-old has been raised 4lb for her Windsor triumph and makes each-way appeal against Leah Freya, winner of three of her last four starts, and Godolphin’s Endless Time.
Redcar’s big race of the year, the totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy over six furlongs, attracted its usual bumper entry, with a maximum 23 runners going to post. Limato (in action at Longchamp this weekend), easily justified favouritism 12 months ago but trainer Henry Candy is not represented this year. Richard Hannon remains a powerhouse in the juvenile division and LOG OUT ISLAND (3.00) looks well drawn in stall 12. The colt was only narrowly denied by Ribchester in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury (pair clear) after making much of the running and his early speed should allow Sean Levey to keep Log Out Island away from any potential bunching in such a large field. Fahey’s Mr Lupton scooped a monster pot in Doncaster’s big sales race and he is joined by talented stablemate Mayfair Lady in opposition to my selection.
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