Our long-range expert Chris Day is back with his early selections for this weekend including a double on two exciting three-year-olds.
1pt win Star Of Orion in 2.25 Ascot at 7/1 (Unibet)
1pt e.w Symbolize in 3.00 Ascot at 33/1 (Unibet 1/4 1,2,3,4)
0.5pts e.w Raising Sand in 3.00 Ascot at 20/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt win double Mohaafeth in 3.15 York and Adayar in 3.35 Ascot at 6/5 and 9/4 (Hills)
Saturday’s Ascot card features the most important Group One run in Britain over 12 furlongs, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and it gives us another chance to evaluate the three-year-olds with their elders.
There are plenty of top-class contenders in the latter bracket with Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner, Love, John Gosden’s globe-trotting Mishriff and Hardwicke Stakes heroine, Wonderful Tonight, all expected to take their place in the line up.
Whilst Love earned rave reviews at the Royal meeting I didn’t think she did anything she shouldn’t have, Mishriff ran as if he needed the run in the Eclipse - and needs to take a massive step forward to win this - and Wonderful Tonight faces a higher calibre of opponent than in Ascot’s Group Two, while she probably needs some thunderstorms, as well.
In recent seasons the Derby winner has struggled after Epsom but I thought ADAYAR, the stable’s third string in the betting, was impressive in a style more reminiscent of traditional high-class Derby winners who went on to prove themselves the outstanding horses of their generation.
Adam Kirby settled him off the pace and brought him with a steady run and his burst of acceleration to put the race to bed was something to behold before staying on strongly to suggest that this will be his trip at the highest level.
Subsequent dual Group One winner, Hurricane Lane, finished in his wake in third and Adayar holds Lone Eagle on Irish Derby form through his stablemate, whilst he had finished in the places behind King Edward VII Stakes winner, Alenquer, on his seasonal debut at Sandown with Yibir, who won a Group Three at Newmarket’s July meeting, behind him there.
Charlie Appleby’s three-year-olds have taken all before them in the middle distance division this season and I find it hard to see Love conceding 6lb to the Derby winner so, at 9/4, I think Adayar is a decent bet.
The other leading three-year-old entered at the weekend is William Haggas’ MOHAAFETH, who swerved the Derby to run at Ascot in the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes. He steps up a level in the Sky Bet York Stakes and has another high class older horse of Aidan O’Brien’s, Armory, to contend with.
Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano was also showing his best form since his Guineas fifth as a three-year-old in winning the Listed Wolferton Stakes but I think both he and Armory will have to give best to Mohaafeth in receipt of the three-year-old allowance and make him a good favourite here.
The big betting race of the day at Ascot is the seven furlong Moët & Chandon International Stakes and unsurprisingly the main protagonists from the Royal meeting’s Buckingham Palace Stakes are likely to turn up with runner up, Danyah, the current ante-post favourite. He deserves to win a big one and looks difficult to keep out of the places with another Shadwell owned older horse, Motakhayyel, the easy winner of the Bunbury Cup, for which he carries just a 3lb penalty.
He also won the Buckingham Palace last year on his seasonal debut and the pair give their formidable connections a solid chance to land this big pot along with the three-year-old, Aldaary, who was sent off favourite here last time.
However, there was a major draw bias here in June and it may pay to consider a couple who ran well from low draws yet have been relatively unconsidered in Saturday’s market.
RAISING SAND is a horse I had always pegged as a soft ground lover, ideal for races later on in the season here at a track he loves, but he ran a blinder in the Buckingham Palace, bursting clear to lead the far side home on good to firm ground and finishing sixth overall. Any easing of the ground would be welcomed and thunderstorms are forecast for the weekend but, even under current conditions, 20/1 does seem to underestimate his chances somewhat.
Second in his group that day was Andrew Balding’s four year old, SYMBOLIZE, who was sent off just 9/1 behind Motakhayyel last time when he once again was drawn on the wrong side of the track. He’s got loads of high-class form in pattern company to his name and his seasonal debut second to Double Or Bubble gives him a decent chance on collateral lines with this year’s Buckingham Palace winner, Highfield Princess.
In the Victoria Cup here in May, he lost a shoe when sent off just 9/1 behind River Nymph and, at 33/1, he looks cracking each-way value assuming he gets the rub of the green on Saturday.
The preceding race, the Porsche Handicap for three-year-olds, sees Roger Varian’s impressive unbeaten Bashosh attempt the hat-trick but I thought he took time to find his stride at Doncaster last time when sent off 2/5 and he looks short enough in the betting for a horse who may already need 10 furlongs.
For that reason I fancy Ralph Beckett’s Newmarket winner, STAR OF ORION, who was strong at the finish over seven furlongs last time, to have his measure here.
Published at 1140 BST on 20/07/21
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.