Richard Mann previews the weekend action with high-quality racing taking place at Newmarket, Newbury and Ripon.
Recommended Bets: Saturday racing
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With York’s Ebor Festival just around the corner, Newmarket, Newbury and Ripon stage some interesting Saturday racing for punters to try and boost the Knavesmire satchels.
The best bet of the day comes at Newmarket where BUFFER ZONE lines up in the Randox Health Handicap (2.45) for Roger Charlton.
Until disappointing at Windsor in June, Buffer Zone had the look of a highly-progressive colt, opening his account at Kempton in October before winning handsomely on his seasonal reappearance in June.
Charlton is a past master at training sprinters. Indeed, Buffer Zone's sire, Bated Breath, developed into a Group One winner under Charlton’s watchful eye and with that in mind, it was disappointing to see this colt turned over at odds-on last time.
However, it is still early days in his career and the ground he encountered on that occasion would have been the quickest he had faced since being beaten on his debut last summer.
His two best performances to date – his polytrack victory at Kempton and good-ground Windsor handicap success – came on surfaces with no jar underfoot.
Buffer Zone wouldn’t be the first of Bated Breath’s progeny to prefer a slightly easier surface, while his dam, Buffering, produced Roller and Full Attire, who were both better performers away from fast conditions.
Buffer Zone’s aforementioned seasonal reappearance success at Windsor came on good ground when routing Buridan off level weights and given that one has won twice since and is now rated 92, the form certainly reads well and suggests Charlton’s lightly-raced charge could still be well treated from a mark off 88.
Newmarket is currently advertising Good to Soft ground and that should prove ideal for Buffer Zone - who has been given a decent break since his last run - and victory here could tee him up nicely for a possible tilt at the Ayr Gold Cup, for which he has an early entry.
His main market rival, Staxton, comes into this in winning form but finds himself rated in the 100s – something that has proven beyond him in the past - while the likes of Jawwaal and Rebel Streak both require career-best efforts themselves.
GUSTAV KLIMT has been crying out for a return to 7f and finally gets his chance in the Ladyswood Stud Hungerford Stakes at Newbury (3.35).
His form at a mile is top class and his placed efforts in the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Prix Jean Prat would suggest a mile is his optimum trip.
However, there is an abundance of speed on the dam’s side of his pedigree and the visual impression he left when making a winning seasonal reappearance over 7f at Leopardstown back in the spring is one I can't forget.
At a time when many of Aidan O'Brien’s horses were needing the run, Gustav Klimt came from last to first to sweep by subsequent Listed winner Imaging in impressive fashion, no mean feat considering he was conceding 3lb to Dermot Weld’s charge.
He faces another top-class rival in Librisa Breeze here and that one looks close to peaking again having hinted at a return to his best form when finishing a good fourth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last time.
He ran a gorgeous race on that occasion, coming through beaten horses and finishing full of running, but conceding 5lb to the younger Gustav Klimt might just prove beyond him on this occasion with another tilt at the QIPCO British Champions Sprint surely his long-term target.
Further north, Ripon stages a typically competitive renewal of the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (3.15) and TERUNTUM STAR looks to have been laid out for this by trainer Kevin Ryan.
The six-year-old won the consolation race a year ago before going on to land another big pot at York and then finishing fourth in Listed company at Doncaster.
As a result, his official rating jumped up to 104 but three quiet runs so far this term have seen him slip back down to a mark of 99 – only 1lb higher than when winning on the Knavesmire – and he ran a most encouraging race at Epsom last time.
He should be cherry ripe now and with course form always crucial at this track, he looks worth a bet at 12/1 with his draw in stall 12 looking close to plenty of the main pace angles.
Throwing another arrow at the race, 20/1 chance DARK POWER is hard to ignore from the foot of weights.
Clive Cox’s charge won a couple of times last summer but has only been seen twice since a gelding operation over the winter.
His comeback run at Newbury offered little encouragement but he certainly caught the eye when third behind the progressive Shaheen at Windsor most recently, finishing with purpose once finding his stride.
This is always run at a good clip so he should get a race run to suit and the booking of Japanese sensation Yuga Kawada is a good one for a sprinter whose best days are surely still ahead of him.
Posted at 1420 BST on 17/08/18