Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday at Haydock, Kempton and Ascot. View selections below
The 32 Red Sprint Cup is today’s feature race at Haydock Park and 17-runners are due to post for this famous Group 1 contest. The ground is the key. On good or faster ground it is hard to oppose July Cup winner Limato such was the authority of his success at Newmarket. His subsequent York effort when second in the Nunthorpe over a trip short of his best was still a top class run and he will be very hard to beat if the ground stays on the fast side of good.
That said there is rain sometimes heavy forecast for much of the day and with the race not starting until late in the afternoon conditions are likely to have deteriorated by the time they reach the start.
Quiet Reflection (4.30) was most impressive when winning the Sandy Lane Stakes over today’s C&D back in May and gets the vote as she will not be inconvenienced if the rain gets into the ground. The filly does have a bit to find with Limato on July Cup form but she finished an excellent third on ground, arguably, quicker than ideal on that occasion and at 9/2 with BetVictor merits each way support.
Zest (1.50) seemed to show improved form stepped up to today’s 10f trip at Nottingham last time and she is taken to follow up that success in the opening fillies’ handicap. The selection is closely related to the yard’s brilliant Soviet Song and she has run well on both soft and fast ground.
The Group 3 Mile is a cracker and I thought Michum Swagger (3.00) really ought to have won at Chelmsford last time on the all-weather but jockey George Baker overdid the waiting tactics over a 7f trip which is on the sharp side for the horse. Any significant rain would be a big plus for the 4-year-old who would not want to get too far out of his ground with no guaranteed pace in the race. The gelding is 9/2 at BetVictor and I would be disappointed if he didn’t make the first three.
The 32Red Cup (formerly Old Borough Cup) is a very hot and prestigious handicap; at the time of writing it is unclear if the progressive Walpole will run given he was declared to race on Friday. He is overlooked in favour of Montaly (3.30) who has won and finished a close second in both starts on today’s track, and has shaped as though a return to this 1m 6f trip would suit more than the extreme distances he has been handling of late. Rain would help Andrew Balding’s 5-year-old who is 8/1 at BetVictor and gets the vote in a terrific renewal.
There is a competitive 12f handicap for 3-year-olds at Ascot and the lightly-raced Dance The Dream (3.10) can reward each way support at 14/1 with BetVictor. The Marcus Tregoning yard had an impressive winner with Argenterie earlier in the week and this inmate goes on fast ground, is open to plenty of improvement and will think she is let loose off 8st 3lbs.
The 7f Conditions race which opens the card at Kempton is a cracker and the form of Sir Dancealot’s (2.10) C&D win last month was franked by the runner up’s win at Chelmsford on Thursday evening. David Elsworth trains the selection and his Frankel colt Swiss Storm was too green to do himself justice at Haydock earlier in the week; the trainer’s juveniles invariably come on for their initial experience and I wouldn’t give up on that one just yet.
The Final of the Mile Handicap Series is a hot contest and my two against the field are Cape Icon in his first-time hood and Cape Speed (4.15) who has won three of four on an artificial surface and had a recent blow on the turf at Pontefract following a break which should put him spot on for today’s contest. The selection is drawn low which should be a plus and Joe Fanning takes the ride for Mark Johnston.