Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday at Ascot, Wetherby and the Breeders Cup in Keeneland (USA). View selections below
This evening’s Breeders’ Cup Classic will see the final racecourse appearance of the American Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (9.35) whose task was made easier when the second favourite Beholder was withdrawn on Thursday after developing a fever en route to Lexington.
The selection was beaten in his last start by Keen Ice at Saratoga but that track is often referred to as the “Graveyard of Champions” and I hope we see the real American Pharoah tonight. It should be noted, however, that trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t too impressed when his work rider covered two and a half laps of the polytrack training circuit midweek suggesting they went “too far and too fast.”
Let’s hope that hasn’t left any lasting damage; the colt has been a racing phenomenon in the States this year and the industry badly needed such a superstar. He is Evens at BetVictor and can add the Classic to the Triple Crown.
The only European challenger is dual classic winner Gleneagles who is hard to make a case for running on dirt and over this 10 furlong trip for the first time. Aidan O’Brien is a remarkable trainer but this would, arguably, be his finest moment.
The turf track is drying after an inch-and-a-half of rain fell midweek and I hope it is not too soft for Legitissimo (6.10) in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Turf over 9.5f. The selection won the Guineas back in the spring and has dined at the top table ever since; she has a cracking draw in stall 3, Ryan Moore takes the ride and as long as the ground is no worse than what Europeans would describe as good then she will take all the beating. She is another Even money shot at BetVictor but looks a different class to this evening’s opposition.
Derby and brilliant Arc winner Golden Horn is another equine superstar making his final appearance before embarking on a career at stud. He is another for whom the ground would have been a concern earlier in the week, but he is drawn in stall 1 and should get a handy position on the rail for jockey Frankie Dettori. I just feel, however, that Ballydoyle’s Found (8.50) might take her revenge this evening.
The selection met all sorts of trouble in running in the Arc so you can put a line through that form, and she looked to be crying out for a return to 12f when runner up in the Champion Stakes (10f) last time; she certainly deserves to win another big one. At 7/2 with BetVictor she can reward each way support.
There are terrific jumps cards at both Ascot and Wetherby; at the former I was very impressed with Altior (1.10) at Chepstow earlier in the month on his debut for the Nicky Henderson yard and believe he could go right to the very top of the novice hurdling ranks this term.
I’m a big fan of Henderson’s Sign Of A Victor and first time out might be the time to catch him, but he is a stone higher than when winning the corresponding Handicap Hurdle last year and he faces a difficult task giving so much weight to Closest Friend and Nabucco (2.50) with preference for the latter.
Jockey Aidan Coleman injured himself in a schooling incident earlier in the week but will be back in the saddle for this dual hurdles winner who might be well handicapped off a mark of 132 given he was a listed winner on the level for John Gosden. At 7/2 with BetVictor he must go close.
Padge (1.45) makes his chase debut and is a horse I have long thought would make a better chaser than hurdler. He has been raised 5lbs since his last run over timber but is an exciting prospect and may have most to fear from Astigos of Venetia Williams whose string tend to come right at this time of the year. That said Padge is a winning point-to-pointer who could easily be ahead of the handicapper.
The Charlie Hall is the Wetherby feature but must be filed in the too difficult category with doubts surrounding all the main protagonists; if forced to choose it would be Cue Card getting weight from many of the principles but does he retain all his old ability?
Southfield Royale was well backed and ran an excellent race on his chase debut earlier in the month but Zeroshadesofgrey (1.25) might be best served if the rains arrive at the west Yorkshire track. A winner of three novice hurdles on soft or heavy ground last term including first time out he is an exciting prospect from a talented but unfashionable yard.
Be lucky Charlie