I don’t know about you but it felt like October at the weekend. In fact, we had to put the central heating on for the first time, since the spring, on Saturday night. However, the British weather being what it is. We could be about to hit another dry and almost warm (well for October) spell of weather. That’s good news for Future Champions Weekend at Newmarket on Friday and Saturday. But not such good news for Chepstow. The Welsh track's two-day meeting which starts on Friday is for many racing fans the fixture that marks the time when the switch from flat mode to jumping mode gains momentum.
Still there is plenty of life remaining in the flat season over the next couple of weeks. However, that sense that the winter jumps season is just a few precious weeks away.
Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on Saturday’s action. Plus, I have two for the tracker and a selection from today’s meeting at Galway.
Autumn is here
Autumn was very much in the air at Newmarket & Ascot on Saturday. It was grey and bleak at HQ and just wet at Ascot.
All eyes might well have been on Longchamp for Arc Weekend. However, there was some good racing this side of the channel on Saturday.
Hukum line and sinker
The Cumberland Lodge used to be a big race in the autumn calendar and has been won by some smart horses through its history. Saturday’s race at Ascot wasn’t a vintage one but it produced an easy winner in Hukum.
Hukum was a class above his rivals as his 8 ½ length success suggests. Not for the first time he travelled beautifully. He cruised past the long-time leader Quickthorn coming to two out and stayed on too strongly for his seven rivals. The 4-year-old made it 4-6 in Group 3 company but deserves another crack in better company.
Champions Sprint Dream is on
Vadream’s win in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes was second domestic Group success for trainer Charlie Fellowes. The filly had been threatening to come good in pattern company. Third in Group 1 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot (2 lengths behind Creative Force) in June. She confirmed her liking for Ascot’s straight track with a taking win on Saturday.
The ground had turned heavy by the time of the race and the filly clearly relished the testing conditions. She hasn’t been entered in the Champions Sprint back here on Champions Day. However, after this success you would think connections will be tempted to give it a go.
It was a career best effort by Vadream. Now she would need to improve again to win in Group 1 company. However, if its soft or heavy which it tends to be on Champions Day. Then she won’t be far away on the evidence of this run.
It had looked a competitive renewal of the Group 1 Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Apart from Alcohol Free and Lady Bowthorpe all the best mile fillies were in the line-up. The race produced an easy winner in Saffron Beach. Runner-up to Mother Earth in the 1,000 Guineas she reversed form with that one in no uncertain terms on Saturday.
After a couple of poor runs, failed to stay in the Oaks. Her confidence had been restored with a good win in the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown on her previous start. Always front rank with group that raced more to the far side. She powered clear of her rivals 1f out for an impressive success.
Hopefully you got on the 9/1 advised in Wednesday's column as he was returned 5/1 on the day.
Saffron Beach clearly goes well on the Rowley Mile and is probably at her best on an easy surface. Hopefully connections don’t send her to the Breeders Cup but put her away for next year. There should be more to come from her as 4-year-old and she could well stay 1m 2f.
Mother Earth ran another good race in second but was beaten by a better filly. Snow Lantern ran poorly and was the first beaten. Hopefully she will stay in training as 4-year-old as she has the scope to do better with racing particularly over 1m 2f.
No Speak Alexander a controversial winner of the Matron Stakes probably left her race at Leopardstown and didn’t seem to handle the track. Champers Elysees continues to disappoint and probably won’t ever reach her 3-year-old best again.
It was a big success for trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam who was saddling her first Group 1 winner. A well-deserved win for a shrewd operator.
Two for the tracker
Its getting to that stage in the season when I stop adding flat horses to the tracker for this season. Next week you can expect to see the odd eyecatcher from the upcoming jumps meeting at Chepstow. One of this week’s tracker horses ran at Ascot on Saturday and the other was juvenile making his racecourse debut at Newmarket.
Fresh – James Fanshawe
Fresh had looked worth a first try at 7f and he got it in Saturday’s Challenge Cup Handicap at Ascot. The 4-year-old has been running well in the top 6f sprint handicaps earlier in the summer, finishing runner-up in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot. He goes well with cut in the ground and ran better than his 10-length 3rd of 16 to Aldaary suggests. The first two home had a big advantage racing down the far side. However, Fresh beat those who raced down the middle. He can win off his present mark when he get’s more luck with draw.
First Officer – Roger Varian
The son of Galileo made a very promising racecourse debut when finishing a 2 ¼ length 3rd of 12 in a 7f maiden at Newmarket on Saturday. He wasn’t the best away and ran green but made steady headway when meeting the rising ground. He’s bred to better as a 3-year-old over 1m 2f+. Given his pedigree it was encouraging that he was able to do so well over 7f. He should be able to land a maiden over a mile this season but is more a horse for next season.
In tomorrow’s column I will be looking ahead to some of Saturday’s big races.
I’m off over to Galway for today’s selection.
1:45 – Punters Poet a winner at Roscommon in July. The selection bounced back from a poor run at the festival when a 3 ½ length 3rd of 20 here over an extended two mile. The 6-year-old was doing his best work at the finish last time and shapes like a return to further will suit.
Punters Poet – 5/1 – Gen.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk