Eight races spread across three meetings comprise this afternoon’s ITV Horse Racing, with the focus then switching to four days on the Knavesmire at York, starting on Wednesday.
Fingers crossed that we can line our pockets then, ahead of the scintillating Ebor meeting!
Betfred TV’s Matt Hulmes marks our card ….
Just six juveniles go to post for the Listed Denford Stakes and I like the claims of course and distance debut winner BAYSIDE BOY for Roger Varian (above).
He quickened up in the style of a good horse after being green early, and looks to have a big future given that powerful performance.
He came clear from a long odds-on favourite who had been a close second to subsequent Group 2 winner Lusail at HQ, so the form looks excellent. Another unbeaten contender after just one start is Ralph Beckett’s Seattle King, who also won nicely on debut at Salisbury, going better at the end than at any other stage and will have learnt a lot.
The best form in the race comes from likely favourite Masekela, who put his Royal Ascot fifth behind him when second in the G2 Superlative Stakes. That form may be questionable though, and I think BAYSIDE BOY can improve past him.
Another small field for this staying handicap with just seven runners heading to post, but all are in with chances.
Goolwa and Midrarr are recent all-weather winners looking to take their form back on to turf. Goolwa, who gets a handy 11lb weight for age allowance, beat useful yardstick Hyanna at Kempton a fortnight ago and is the ride of red-hot David Probert (below) who rode EIGHT winners at Ffos Las over two days earlier in the week.
Midrarr won snugly at Wolves on Tuesday and reappears quickly before the handicapper reassesses him. It’s fair to say he looks to have a few pounds in hand at present if the quick turnaround doesn’t count against him.
Miltary Two Step was disappointing at Pontefract while Quenelle D’Or has been in consistent form since biting off more than she could chew in the Cheshire Oaks back in May.
She has gone well in handicaps and wasn’t beaten far back at Listed level here a fortnight ago, while Makawee is another very consistent mare whose short-head second to Alpinista back in May looks excellent form now, and on that evidence would be a warm order here.
However, her form has dipped somewhat, and she has a lot of weight to give away.
A chance is taken with top bumper performer EILEENDOVER for Pam Sly. She took the winter scene by storm when landing a hat-trick of bumpers by wide margins and was sent off at just evens for the big Aintree Mares’ bumper at the Grand National meeting.
She is flat-bred, and connections shied away from a jumping career to focus on the level. She hasn’t quite matched expectations yet but is up in trip on handicap debut, and hasn’t been disgraced at Listed level the last twice.
It is hard to look beyond the favourite HUKUM for the G3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes. He landed the contest last year, this is arguably a weaker renewal, and his form right now is even stronger.
HUKUM followed last year’s win with a fine fifth in the St Leger and his two victories this season, at Goodwood and York, sandwiched an excellent third in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot behind subsequent Group 1 winner Broome and leading Arc contender Wonderful Tonight.
He is classy enough to give weight all around with upwards of 8lb in hand on official figures.
Three-year-olds have won three of the last four renewals and this year’s sole representative, Recovery Run, needs to improve plenty on his two placed efforts in handicaps at Glorious Goodwood and Royal Ascot.
Bigger dangers will come from Hugo Palmer’s Golden Pass, who is a smart filly progressing with racing and did it nicely at Listed level at Newmarket four weeks ago, and old favourite Red Verdon.
The 8yo was given a wonderful Ryan Moore (above, centre) ride at Sandown in a small field last time and ran a good fourth under today’s pilot Hollie Doyle in Saudi back in February. He may just find the younger legs too quick for him back in trip here.
The Grey Horse Handicap, run solely for greys. A fantastic sight, with ten of nature’s finest heading down the July Course at Newmarket.
MY STYLE won last year’s renewal after finishing third in 2019 and returns just 2lb higher, bidding for a repeat victory. His form on this course reads 3142 and although the Eve Johnson Houghton team could be in slightly better nick, the 5yo will have been targeted at this race for sure and he will be hard to keep out of the frame.
He will bid to emulate Case Key as a dual winner of the race. Mick Appleby’s runner won this contest in 2017 and 2019 and while is 1lb lower than his win four years ago, is 6lb higher than two years back.
The 8yo does arrive on the back of a Nottingham success a month ago for which he got a 7lb rise, and has the services of Luke Morris who is full of confidence after a Group 1 success in Germany last Sunday.
Mitrosonfire has won three of his last five starts including in last Saturday’s Shergar Cup. His yard conversely has been in cracking form, and he looks a leading contender.
Devil’s Angel is another last time out winner over course and distance who merits respect, while Cahors is a consistent type who may just need some respite from the handicapper to get her head in front again.
A seven furlong handicap with a pair of improving three-year-olds heading the market.
Aratus is lightly-raced having just his fourth start, and arriving on the back of a Doncaster demolition job.
He won eased-down after being keen there three weeks ago and while he may not have beaten much, it was in a very taking manner. His Kempton maiden win from last season also looks good now, a mark of 94 won’t be easy to overcome – but he is exciting.
I will just side with hat-trick seeking SUNSET BAY who has a course and distance success to her name and followed that up by winning easily at Sandown.
The result there was never in doubt and although another 9lb rise asks more of her, she looks more than capable of defying it. She looks to be a rapidly improving filly and could well be up to Pattern company before the season is out.
Magical Wish was finally rewarded for some good efforts when popping up at 12/1 at Glorious Goodwood but he has no secrets from the handicapper, while Ajyaall, despite being lightly raced, hasn’t really come up to expectations the last twice but is back down to seven furlongs, which should help.
Starshiba has run in some big handicaps this season and acquitted himself well overall. The handicapper has dropped him 2lb for his latest effort and he could hit the frame, but I’m taking the pair of 3yo’s to battle this out.
Tim Easterby (above left) likes to target this meeting, especially the Great St Wilfrid, and it looks as though he fancies taking the consolation too with four declared here for the Silver Trophy, with a pair on either side of the track.
Bossipop, only fifth over course and distance last time, and True Blue Moon, who is 1lb below his last win in May and has run largely at seven furlongs since, are both drawn high.
From a low draw Danzan, who was a good second at York back in May and has largely kept his form well and Flying Pursuit, a regular in all the northern sprint handicaps, represent the handler.
There has been solid support for the consistent Ghathanfar who is drawn hard up the stands rail, but he has been edged up 2lb for another good run five weeks ago.
With twenty runners and extra places, I will take two against the field and they are drawn next door to each other.
MARK’S CHOICE is a four-time course winner and arrives here 2lb lower than the most recent of those in April. Handling this track with its unique ridges is big positive and he ran well twice here this season.
His form has dipped at other tracks but the return could revitalise him and he has had another wind op since his most recent outing.
The other is TRUE MASON for Phillip Makin. He likes to get his toe in and while the drying ground isn’t ideal, his form has been quite solid of late.
He was a good fourth to Punchbowl Flyer at Haydock two starts ago and wasn’t far behind some of these at York last time in a race won by subsequent Windsor winner Capote’s Dream. Another 2lb fall in the ratings aids his cause, while cheekpieces are enlisted for the first time.
The feature race of the day is the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over the specialist trip of seven furlongs. This race has been won by some real stalwarts of this intermediate trip, those that just lack the toe for sprinting, and are stretched by the mile.
Godolphin look to have a strong hand with D’Bai, who was last seen winning at Meydan in February and was a close third in similar contest here at Newbury in September, and Al Suhail (above).
He was a close third in the Betfred Summer Mile at Ascot last time and was noted staying on, so the drop in trip is a slight question mark.
Jim Crowley rides International Stakes winner Danyah who finally hit the target after plenty of near misses in handicap company. This is a step up though, while Dane O’Neill, number two jockey to Shadwell, rides dual Bunbury Cup winner, Motakhayyel.
He has struggled up in Group company previously, so maybe the pink-capped third string, LANEQASH, could be the one. Ray Dawson gave up a long book of rides at Newbury to partner this 3yo, who was unlucky to be beaten by subsequent Royal Lodge winner New Mandate at Doncaster last September.
He can be forgiven his run here at Newbury in October on bottomless ground and could well be the forgotten horse of the field.
Tactical and Sacred are another pair of 3yo’s who both will appreciate dropping back to seven furlongs, having not seen out the mile last time.
Tim Easterby saddles SIX runners in this year’s renewal of the Great St Wilfrid in a bid for a third win in five years, with last term’s winner Staxton back to spearhead his team off a 4lb higher mark.
Staxton will bid to enhance an excellent course record that reads 235111. He is joined by stablemates Boardman, who rattled off an early season hat-trick, and Golden Apollo, who is having a third crack at the race having finished 11th on both tries.
Manigordo has pieces of good form this season and former Ayr Bronze Cup winner Music Society, who has also been troubling the judge, represent Easterby too. Hs best chance though may lie with LAMPANG.
He looked a real good juvenile, but injuries have held him back. He has had a better run of things this season, beating subsequent winner Rathbone at Hamilton in June, and finished mid-pack in the both the Stewards Cup and the Wokingham.
He is flying lower here and was very impressive in his only try at the track as a 2yo. He is drawn right on the far side in stall 2, and should go well.
Of those drawn higher, Mr Wagyu was very impressive at Goodwood a fortnight ago but a 8lb hike could catch him out, while Mr Lupton is 5lb higher than when third to Staxton last year.
I will take a chance on the consistent GALE FORCE MAYA to hit the frame at a decent price for Michael Dods (above), who won the 2019 renewal. She has been third in three of her last five runs, all off this same mark. She was just worn down here 12 days ago on her first look at the track, and the drying ground will be in her favour.