Ascot hosts its annual Shergar Cup this afternoon. Seven of the eight races at the Shergar Cup are being broadcast live on ITV as part of a bumper 11 race programme. One of those 11 is the race of the day the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (4.15) at the Curragh. ITV are also covering two races from Haydock and one from Newmarket this afternoon.
Inside today’s main piece you’ll find my Saturday Preview, a selection from the Curragh and a go at the Ascot Placepot.
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I looked at the Phoenix Stakes in Thursday’s column. The race is the juvenile race of the season so far and looks one of the strongest renewals of the race for many years. Five of the six runners have strong claims.
Bradsell’s Coventry Stakes win is the best form on offer and has been well advertised since. Connections of runner-up Persian Force think they can reverse placings with the winner here, but I think Bradsell can come out on top again.
Little Big Bear is the biggest rival to the favourite and should be well positioned in what could be a tactical race. His stablemate Blackbeard looks the pace angle, and I would expect Ryan Moore to have his mount just behind the leader. Blackbeard looks held by Bradsell on their Royal Ascot running but he could get an uncontested lead here which makes him dangerous.
I had Shartash down as the value pick earlier in the week. He’s open to improvement, but he may require a better run race to be seen at his best.
There’s another Group race earlier on the Curragh card with the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stake (3:15). The first time cheekpieces make Go Bears Go of interest. However, my preference is for high class juvenile Castle Star. He ran well for a long way when on his belated seasonal reappearance when a 5 ¼ lengths 5th of 9 to Ladies Church in a Group 2 here over 5f. He should be sharper for that run and reproduction of his ½ length 2nd of 10 to Perfect Power in last season’s Group 1 Middle Park Stakes would see him go close.
The feature race of the Newmarket card is the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes (3:40) run over 7f. Ivory Madonna and Lakota Sioux bring the best form into the race. The first named out-ran her big odds when 3rd of 16 to Meditate in Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, she didn’t run to that form when only a 1 ¾ length 2nd of 9 in a Newmarket maiden next time. Lakota Sioux won a Lingfield maiden on her second start and then improved again to finish a 2 ½ length 3rd of 13 to Holloway Boy in Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. A repeat of that effort would see her bang there.
One of the most interesting of the nine fillies is the Karl Burke trained Novakai. The daughter of Lope De Vega may played up before the start of her racecourse debut at Doncaster. However, she could hardly have been more impressive in winning the race. Her dam won over 1m 6f, so she’s bred to improve for middle distances as a 3-year-old.
Alseyoob also created a good impression when making a winning racecourse debut over C&D last month. Like Novakai she’s a daughter of Lope De Vega and is another who will stay further as a 3-year-old. There should be plenty more to come and she looks a nice prospect.
The Ladies Team won it last year and you can see why Sky Bet have them as the 7/4 favourite to win again. Next in the team betting is Europe at 2/1 which seems right. For those looking at the value in the team betting then the 100/30 about Team GB & Ireland will appeal.
The Silver Saddle is awarded to the leading individual rider and looking at the declarations Joanna Mason looks a solid favourite at 5/1. Jo is very competitive, and will be out to make a big impression on her Shergar Cup debut.
Another jockey who could do well is Nicola Currie. She’s got an excellent chance of a winner on Super Superjack (2:45). If she can get another couple into the places, she would be fair value for the Silver Saddle
My approach to the day is ignore the jockey’s and go with horses who have course form.
I wasn’t going to do the placepot this week, but I have been tempted in once again. I will probably have a go at the quadpot.
1:00 – Leg 1 – Amanzoe and Value Theory
1:35 – Leg 2 – Epsom Faithfull
2:10 – Leg 3 – Arecibo
2:45 – Leg 4 – Super Superjack, Themaxwecan and Island Brave
3:20 – Leg 5 – Charging Thunder and State Of Bliss
3:35 – Leg 6 – Bopedro and Montassib.
For those not interested in the place or quadpot’s. Today’s selection runs in the 3:15 at the Curragh.
3:15 – Castle Star – 9/2 – Gen.
Good luck with your Saturday bets.