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Hands up from me for my performance over the course of Royal Ascot. I came into Ascot in decent enough form and was confident coming into each individual day, but it didn't pan out how I expected and wanted it to. It's been a while since I bombed out at a big festival and I can only apologise. I thoroughly enjoyed the racing this week despite not doing well, hopefully, you enjoyed it and picked some nice winners along the way.
Trainer: A Fabre
Jockey: Tom Marquand
Though I didn't tip anything up in the 1000 Guineas due to my selection be a NR, I did say ZELLIE would probably be my fancy in that race. I had a few quid on her that day and wasn't disappointed with her run back in fourth.
This is the French Oaks and is an 18-runner race full of exciting fillies who will go on to win many Group races between them, so the fact it's 9/4 the field shows the strength in this race. That might sound daft as the favourite is Nashwa, who is trained by John & Thady Gosden and is clear by around 3 points in the market, but I don't think it's that clear. Nashwa is the correct favourite based on her run in the Epsom Oaks but at the prices, I think she has to be taken on. That run was only 16 days ago, and this looks like a second option for her, whereas if she came into this race on the back of her Newbury win I think I'd be more on her side. That race at Epsom wasn't an easy race and could've taken a fair chunk out of her. I think the drop back to 10f will suit as she travels nicely through her races and I don't think she stayed the 12f as well as the first and second and that is what might've cost her.
I'm giving a chance to Andre Fabre's filly who should be suited by this step up to 10f based on how she has run in the past and from what her pedigree suggests. She looked outpaced over 8f at Newmarket and didn't look happy entering the dip, but when she met the rising ground she stayed on very nicely. The form of 1000 Guineas is up for debate but based on what we've seen so far it doesn't seem all that bad. Cachet has run with credit on a couple of occasions since, including finishing 2nd in the French 1000 and 5th at Royal Ascot. Tuesday was the eventual Epsom Oaks winner and looks like a really nice horse over middle-distance races for the rest of the season.
The ground is a slight concern as it is currently being described as Good To Soft (Saturday midday) and even though they are expecting showers on Sunday, it's around 30 degrees at Chantilly so the ground will be drying up very quickly, and I imagine the ground will probably be Good come the time of racing. She has been seen to best effect with juice in the ground but did seem to handle the faster surface at Newmarket. I think she might get away with the ground being quick over this longer distance as she does seem a strong stayer over shorter. I think she is a good EW player in this race, but I wouldn't put anyone off from backing anything in this race.
Trainer: William Haggas
Jockey: Daniel Tudhope
With Tom Marquand riding over in France, Daniel Tudhope takes the reigns on BARTZELLA in the feature event at Pontefract for their Sunday Series Meeting. Having Tudhope on board is not a negative in the slightest, as you'll struggle to find a jockey in better form in recent weeks with him doing extremely well at Royal Ascot, riding with bags of confidence.
I think this filly just wins. Sometimes you can get bogged down and overcomplicate races by trying to get the favourite beat, and I'm a big culprit of that, but sometimes you just have to admit that the favourite has the best chance of winning. If Bartzella repeats the form of last time out from her Goodwood race, she wins this. She didn't beat Lady Hayes by much that day, but I think she had more in the tank than what the finishing margin suggests. She is a four-raced filly so improvement is still extremely likely, and with William Haggas being in the form he is in, it's hard to look past her chances.
You'll struggle to find a bigger fan of Glenartney in horse racing than myself. I really think this filly has a Class 1 win lurking around for her at some point during her career, but I think it will be over slightly longer than today's trip. She is a lovely filly who keeps hitting the crossbar and getting placed in good races, but I don't think today is the day for her.
I don't think this race will be run at a great tempo, and chances are that The Flying Ginger might try and set a slow pace on the front end before kicking around the bend. That filly is 17lbs inferior to my selection, but in a race like this, it's a decent opportunity for connections to get that Black Type on her CV, which is massive for breeding in the future. With that being said, with the pace likely not to be great, if the race pans out how I think it will, having a filly with a good cruising speed is needed and I think Bartzella fills that bill better than most in this race.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Megan Nicholls
If Paul Nicholls can get OLEG winning this race it would be some training performance to do so after he has been off the track for 589 days.
Despite the time off the track I think Oleg's chances are clear as day. He won at this track a couple of years ago and did it in the style of a horse who appreciates a stiff track and a mammoth trip on the flat. He won here over 2m 1f and the winning margin of a neck was value for a bit more as he was staying stoutly and with an extra half-furlong, he would've won by a couple of lengths. That win came off a mark of 79, which is the same handicap mark which he runs off today, so effectively is handicapped to win again.
With Paul Nicholls sending him up to Pontefract from his base in Ditcheat, I think you can assume that he is fit and ready to go. This is a long way to send a horse and when Paul sends them North, he doesn't miss all too often, on the flat or the jumps. He is 2/2 at Pontefract in the last five years, so that backs up my statement.
The booking of his daughter, Megan, is a good booking. I think she rides this track extremely well and was a winning riding for us when I tipped up Dereham to win at this track a month or so ago. The weight he has to carry is a slight concern, but is a jumps horse so is used to carrying big lumps of weight around, so it shouldn't be that much of an inconvenience.
Trainer: Kevin Ryan
Jockey: Kevin Stott
A mark of 82 looks workable for MILLION THANKS based on the form he has shown on the last two starts. He was gambled on strongly to win on season reappearance at Musselburgh, that win burnt my fingers as I tipped up Western Stars who finished third that day. I think he wasn't 100% fit that day and once again, the winning margin was probably flattering to the horse who finished second. He looked in need of experience that day as he wandered around slightly and had a quite high head carriage, but he got the job done and I thought he looked like a nice handicapper to follow.
I didn't realise he ran late in May after his run at Musselburgh, but he ran well in a hot looking Class 4 event at Haydock. He finished fourth that day, but the form has worked out nicely. The winner was well-handicapped that day off a mark of 83 and he ran a belter to finish 3rd in the Britannia Stakes Handicap at Royal Ascot earlier this week. The runner-up from Haydock ran a decent race to finish 2nd again the time after and the third horse finished runner-up to an inform horse in a Class 2 race at Chester. Million Thanks didn't get a clear run in the final furlong, even though it wasn't a huge interference, it didn't help his chances and he would've finished closer to the winner if that didn't happen.
I think this stiff uphill track will suit him. With it being a decent prize pot for a Class 4 due to the Sunday Series it will be a competitive race and I think he is an EW player, and I can see the form working out quite well from this race.
Trainer: Archie Watson
Jockey: Harry Davies (5)
With Hollie Doyle attempting to win a French Classic on Nashwa, Harry Davies take the ride on CORINTHIA KNIGHT. Some of you would have probably predicted this horse being put up by me for Sunday's racing if you looked through the cards, as he has been a selection for the thread on two occasions this year, being a winning tip on his most recent run.
There's no surprise seeing him turn up at Pontefract for the Sunday Series where the prize pot is generous for low-level handicaps as he is probably known to be a course specialist these days. I was very impressed with his win last time out off weight in the 10st's and the battling ability he retains at the age of 7. Though he probably didn't beat great horses that day, it was some performance to do it from such a big weight, which is completely different to today's scenario as he will be carrying 8st 4lbs with the claimer's 5lb taken into consideration, and I think that it a huge help, but also a huge confidence booster that they really fancy his chances. To get Harry Davies booked shows real intent as he is probably the best apprentice around in the UK and the fact he can claim 5lbs is daylight robbery. This race is tougher than his recent assignments but he comes into this race still very well handicapped and at a track that he loves. He'll need luck in running if they decide not to take a lead from Stall 2 as you can struggle to find gaps when pegged in on the rail at Pontefract, so hopefully, he gets a handy position and can pounce late on where he seemingly has the stamina up the hill where the others might not.