Our man Andrew Asquith provides his guide to the ITV races on Saturday, which features the Shergar Cup and Phoenix Stakes.
1pt win Mr McCann in 2.25 Haydock at 6/1 (Bet365)
1pt win Hamaki in 4.30 Ascot at 4/1 (General)
Several failed to fire in the six-furlong handicap EPSOM FAITHFULL won at this course last month, though it is hard to say that she didn’t improve to record her fourth success of the year, and she is building a solid profile.
The runner-up, who arrived in form, ran up to his best, so his effort gives the form substance, while the timefigure recorded by Epsom Faithfull was very good, also. She is clearly thriving this year, has already won four times at this trip, and has a more than capable German rider in the saddle, so everything points to another big run in this classified event on these terms.
This looks a wide-open sprint where ARECIBO makes the most appeal now back in a handicap. His last win also came when last seen in handicap company at Newmarket in May last year from a 4 lb lower mark and he has been plying his trade in listed and pattern company since.
He finished runner-up to Oxted in the King’s Stand Stakes over course and distance last season and, though he didn’t fare as well in this year’s renewal, he bounced back to form when beaten two lengths in the Coral Charge at Sandown last time.
Arecibo has also finished third in the Temple Stakes at Haydock this season, another piece of form that will make him very competitive here, and this race should be run to suit with some pace in and around him. This track clearly suits him well and the pick of his form makes a mark of 103 look workable.
This has the potential to turn tactical as several horses in the field are often ridden patiently, so it may be wise to side with MR McCANN, who has made all of the running for two of his three career wins, including one at this track.
He was well supported for the Dee Stakes at Chester on his return, but he seemingly found the step up to a mile and a quarter stretching his stamina, and he is best not judged too harshly on his last two starts in the German 2000 Guineas and the Britannia at Royal Ascot where he did too much too soon.
The handicapper has dropped him 3 lb for his latest effort, and he should find this assignment less taxing now facing his elders for the first time. Furthermore, there is a strong chance he will get the run of the race, and if that does transpire, he will be hard to peg back returned to a smaller field at this sharper track.
There is a chance this will be strongly run with Golden Flame and Throne Hall likely to take each other on in front, so with that in mind, another chance is given to GOING GONE, who was seemingly amiss at Newbury last time.
He looked a handicapper to follow when making a winning return in a useful mile and a half handicap at Epsom on his return and excelled himself when finishing fourth in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot over two and a half miles.
Going Gone appeared to be well suited by a switch to more patient tactics on that occasion, seeing the longer trip out very well, and if he can return to that sort of form returned to this venue he is entitled to go very close.
Grocer Jack is the one to beat on the back of his Newbury romp, but that was a small-field affair and he had his own way in front.
This looks tougher, so it may be worth taking a chance on the potential of ROYAL CHAMPION, who looked every inch a pattern-class performer when bolting up in a strong handicap at Epsom in June.
Royal Champion cruised through that race and was only pushed out under hands-and-heels riding, brushing some useful rivals aside in style. It is also worth remembering that he started a single-figure price for the Dante last season, remains with few miles on the clock, and almost certainly has the ability to mix it at this level.
Several of these arrive in top form, The Whipmaster finding only a smart sort too good last time and Charging Thunder having won three of his last four starts.
The Gary Moore yard don’t appear to be firing on all cylinders at present, though, and Charging Thunder is stepping back to a mile and a half for the first time since his Pontefract success, so the percentage call is to side with PRIDE OF PRIORY.
He made a slow start to the season, but is firmly back on the up now, winning his last two starts on the all-weather, and is worth marking up for his latest victory at Newcastle.
Pride Of Priory didn’t get the clearest run that day, but was very strong at the finish to beat a well-handicapped three-year-old, marking himself out as a horse to keep on the right side. There are a few who like to go forward here, so he should get a good pace to aim at, and a subsequent 5 lb may underestimate him.
This doesn't look a strong edition of the Sweet Solera Stakes and NOVAKAI arrives with the most compelling claims.
She wasn't strong in the betting and got worked up beforehand (unseating her rider), but did nothing wrong in the race itself when making a winning debut at Doncaster, always travelling well and displaying a sharp turn of foot to settle matters from two furlongs out.
There should be any amount of improvement in her now for a yard that has a good crop of juveniles and she brings lots of potential to the table.
Montassib looks very interesting now stepping up to a mile for the first time, but his progress seems to have halted since moving into handicaps, and he is once again well found in the market, so he is worth taking on with that in mind.
The one to do so with is BOPEDRO, who had plenty of solid form in Ireland, and made an excellent start for David O’Meara when finishing fourth at this course a fortnight ago.
That was on the straight course, but he did incredibly well to finish as close as he did from an unpromising position, doing much the best of those held up in a race where it paid to be prominent.
The return to a bend shouldn’t be an issue and there is plenty of pace on, so granted luck in-running once entering the straight, a big run is expected under Jamie Spencer, who looks the perfect jockey for his run style.
This looks a cracking renewal of the Phoenix Stakes and the Archie Watson-trained BRADSELL is expected to confirm Coventry form with Persian Force and Blackbeard.
Both of those rivals have come out and won in pattern company since and Bradsell looked in a different league at Royal Ascot, the turn of foot he showed to shoot clear two furlongs from home proving the difference.
He has been the subject of positive reports since and he should have even more to offer after just two starts. Bradsell is the only unbeaten runner in the field and he can prove himself one of the best juveniles around by landing this Group 1.
HAMAKI is very much bred to excel over middle distances, so for him to record wins over six and seven furlongs as a juvenile is testament to his ability, and there was plenty to like about his most recent success at Haydock.
That was his first start at a mile and a quarter and he beat another progressive three-year-old with a bit in hand in a moderately-run race, proving very strong at the finish.
That points to more progress now he is stepping up even further in trip and his run style suggests he is the type to stay ahead of the handicapper for some time. A 5 lb rise in the weights is more than workable and, at the time of writing, it is a surprise that he isn't outright favourite. Big chance.
ADMIRAL D won twice on soft ground when trained in Ireland last year and his latest run at Newmarket suggests that he is starting to find his feet for Richard Fahey.
That was a strong three-year-old handicap – a little more competitive than this – and the form is working out well, the winner bolting up again since and the fourth also winning next time.
Admiral D ran a cracker despite leaving the impression that he wasn’t suited by the emphasis being on speed, coming from the rear to finish second but never looking like getting to the all-the-way winner.
This track which has a stiffer finish should suit him well and he is drawn bang in the middle of the pace. He has plenty of solid form in the book, still looks on a fair mark, and should be seen to much better effect now at a course which can favour hold-up horses.
Published at 1430 BST on 05/08/22
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