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Newmarket has been a tough betting ground for the past two days, so to see Popmaster win at Ascot to ensure we didn't end up losing on Friday was good to see as the three Newmarket selections were heavily beaten.
Newmarket 2:15 – Chasseral 15/2 (0.5pt EW Bet365 4pl)
This looks like a tricky renewal, but I don't think there's a standout piece of form which makes one specific horse stand out. My dart landed on Chasseral who is running off a mark of 81 and has been running like she's been needing 7f for quite a while and there's improvement to come now she gets it.
She has run well over 6f in some decent sprint races. Her run on seasonal reappearance was a good effort considering Oisin Murphy kept her on her own on the far side at Newmarket, she finished 4th/8, clearly on the wrong side and looking in need of the run as well. She then ran well in third at Haydock behind a progressive winner, looking like she needed an extra furlong. Once again, at York in a Class 2 she ran well, running on quite strongly and lacking the tactical speed of those ahead of her, finishing 8th/21. Then when Andrew Balding and connections put her up in trip she cruised into contention at Chester but her stamina gave up within the final half furlong. That race was run over 7.5f, and Harry Davies probably got a big giddy on her and used up the petrol too soon by going round the outside, which isn't ideal at Chester and then when she hit the front she got very tired, so in hindsight, he should've waited and produced her late on.
Now she is running over 7f on ground which will probably remain as good to soft, on a stiff track, which should be right up her street, as long as she is smuggled into the race by Jon Egan. I don't think the ground is anything to be worried about as she has run well on soft and good to soft in the past, and I think she probably has more to give off her current mark than many of her opposition, plus she is tackling her own sex for the first time since last September, which saw her win her only race to date, as she has been taking on the boys in recent times.
Newmarket 2:50 – Tafreej 4/1 (2pt Bet365/Paddy)
This race doesn't look as competitive as the 2:15 and I had this between the top three in the market, but I ended up going for Tafreej.
I thought it was probably out of Tafreej and Royal Dubai, with Havana Blue being a third choice, but what made me go for Tafreej was the Chester race where he had a torrid run-through (ran in the same race as Royal Dubai) and though Royal Dubai was running on well in that race, I thought if both of the horses had a clear run and came from the same position, Tafreej would've won because he was making up some rapid ground at Chester, and they are virtually running off the same difference in weights today. I do think that's the piece of form to focus on in this race as the form of the race has worked out well.
I tipped up Tafreej last time out at Yarmouth when Dane O'Neill smuggled this horse into the race and he won with plenty to spare (on a side note I hope Dane is recovering well in hospital after his incident earlier this week). He looked a horse well ahead of the handicapper and it was nice to see him finally show what he is capable of now he is probably at his suitable trip, with him running over shorter distances all of his career, but still showing plenty of ability. Adam Farragher takes off 3lbs, so he has effectively only gone up 3lbs for that recent win, and we know that he will handle the ground, no matter what the ground is. Looks like a very nice bet in my eyes.
A quick touch on Havana Blue. He has course form, which is obviously very nice to have, but his pedigree suggests he's not meant to stay 1m as well as some of these today. He ran on well last time out at the July course, but I'd still have reservations about that stamina. Ryan Moore is a good booking though, I might play a small tricast with the three I've mentioned.
Newmarket 4:00 – Accidental Agent 33/1 (0.5pt EW WilliamHill 5pl)
The Bunbury Cup is always a great spectacle during the flat season, and it's always a minefield where you can get some very decent odds if you decide to take a play in the race. I was expecting Streets Of Gold to be a bit shorter in the market than he currently is, as I thought many punters would be backing him due to his progressive nature of last year and the third-placed effort in the Jersey at Royal Ascot. I think his chances are there for all to see, and I'd argue he is value at his current price, but I've opted for his stablemate, and one of the veterans of the flat scene, Accidental Agent.
At the prices I think he has to be worth a chance even though his form this year has been terrible but as a result of that he is starting to become ridiculously well-handicapped. He has run twice at the July course, which has resulted in a win and a good 7th/18 in this race last year off a mark of 112. He is now running off a mark of 101 which is effectively 94 as Mia Nicholls takes off 7lbs. He is priced up at 33/1 and we do see horses bounce back to form when their handicap marks drop down by huge margins, so at 33/1 you can take my money.
He is notoriously known for slow starts, so hopefully that doesn't happen tomorrow and Mia can get a good tune out of him, like she has done with a few of my selections this year, being a winning rider for me on a couple of occasions.
I'd be wary of backing Streets Of Gold even though his form is up there with the best. No 3yo has won this since 1995 and many have tried, and many have been higher rated than him, so it clearly takes a good one to win it.
Newmarket 4:35 – Azure Blue 7/2 (2pt Bet365/WilliamHill)
I don't quite understand why Kinross is the market favourite for this race, he is a multiple Group 1 winner, but my gosh isn't he a bit overrated? The Group 1s he has won haven't been great, and the Champions Sprint he won at Ascot last year was a farce, he beat a 108-rated runner-up, with the first three home all running down the middle of the track, clearly on the best ground. For me, Shaquille is the one to beat, but I'm sticking with the filly Azure Blue who won at a nice price last time out for me, and I'm not going to desert her now.
This progressive 4yo filly can probably be called a Newmarket specialist, with 4 wins from 5 trips to Newmarket, winning on both tracks and has since gone from a mere handicapper rated 85 to a Group 2 winner now rated 114. Michael Dods is a master of training filly sprinters, he's done it over the years with the likes of Mecca's Angel and Mabs Cross, he is a genius when it comes to this type of horse. Azure Blue has it to prove again now trying Group 1 quality for the first time, but based on her York run in the Duke Of York Clipper Stakes, she is coming into this race at the top of her game and with further progression likely to come, comes with a live chance.
She handles the ground, and Michael is convinced the more rain the better, she handles the track, has a high cruising speed like we saw last time when she toppled Highfield Princess, and she seems to stay a stiff 6f.
Newmarket 5:10 – Flying Frontier 10/3 (2pt WilliamHill)
James Tate has had a quiet fortnight, and probably quite a quiet couple of seasons but a few years ago he had many top talents in his yard with the likes of Invincible Army and Top Ranked, and I get very similar vibes to the latter with his horse in this race, Flying Frontier.
Top Ranked did his early running at some of the northern tracks before he stepped up in grade and though this is still a handicap, Flying Frontier has been kept to the northern tracks and now he is taking on his first real assignment. James likes to utilise the smaller northern tracks, hence why he has such a good SR at many of them, and I'm guessing he prefers to use them as they are good tracks for his horses and good preps, but from what I've seen this horse could be a bit of unit. He has a very long stride, high knee action and has been winning nicely on good ground, which doesn't appear to be his bag at all. He is by Farhh, so soft ground should be what he wants, and with the rain that landed yesterday afternoon, the ground should be more to his liking today than what he has encountered so far in his career.
His pedigree isn't tremendously flashy, but sometimes you've got to go off what your eyes are telling you, and I got a very good impression from this horse, especially over today's longer trip which looks to suit as well.
York 2:35 – Kerdos 7/2 (1pt Bet365/WHill)
I'm always going to take on Regional whenever I see him towards the head of the market, as I don't think he's as good as what people may think, which might sound ludicrous as he's been winning quite a lot of races recently, but there's something about him which I don't like.
With the rain landing, I thought Kerdos was worth a shout. I don't mind horses taking the step up in grade to Class 1 level from handicaps for the first time, as I think the sprinting division is probably the weakest and most welcoming for an improver of this nature. Kerdos finished 2nd at Royal Ascot in a race which I think will work out well. He is a strong stayer over 5f, which isn't a surprise considering he was campaigned as a 6f horse as a juvenile and early stages of this season. He does hit best work late on, he handles soft ground which isn't surprising as he is by Profitable who was a soft ground winner for Clive Cox, who also trains Kerdos. With quite a bit of pace expected to be on with the likes of Silky Wilkie and Changeofmind, it could set it up for a closer, which I think Kerdos will love.
Not only was his Royal Ascot run very good, but his Chester run the time before was very eye-catching, the position he was in turning for home and the ground he made up was one of a horse who shouldn't be out of the picture a race of today's nature.
York 3:10 – Faylaq 16/1 (0.5pt EW PaddyPower 6pl)
If you're following me with backing Faylaq for this race, you're going to need a strong stomach as chances are that he'll be travelling strongly but will need the gaps to appear for him.
This is obviously a very tough race to call, I whittled it down to around three horses which I liked, but Faylaq kept drawing me in, and that is due to his run style. He always travels well into his races, looks to be needing room all the time, and then when he makes his challenge he either doesn't seem to stay the trip as well as he needs to or something well-handicapped beats him. He has done most of his running over a furlong or two longer on stiff tracks, so to see him not finish his races out isn't a surprise, and it might sound daft but I think 10f on softish ground will be perfect for him, it does sound crazy considering he just finished 3rd in the Northumberland Vase over 2m, but based on his previous runs over just further than today's trip, he doesn't seem to get home.
He will be held up from off the pace, which is what he needs as I don't think he does much when he hits the front, which shows with his lack of winning, but the tendency to go close. There's no doubt that he has the ability, he was rated in the 100s when trained by William Haggas, and his consistent performances of this year and last year show he is capable of popping up in a big prize contest. I wouldn't be touching him at shorter odds due to the risks attached, but with 6 places on offer and 16/1 going about, I think he is worth a shot, especially knowing he'll handle the ground better than most. And normally, with this race, they tend to fan out when turning for home, which should hopefully Cam Hardie's job a bit easier to weave through the field, as opposed to being clumped in on the rail.
Newmarket - 2:15 pm
15/2 @ Bet365
Newmarket - 2:50 pm
4/1 @ Bet365
Newmarket - 4:00 pm
33/1 @ William Hill
Newmarket - 4:35 pm
7/2 @ Bet365
Newmarket - 5:10 pm
10/3 @ William Hill
York - 2:35 pm
7/2 @ Bet365
York - 3:10 pm