Another wonderful day’s racing under both codes and the likelihood of good ground at Newmarket for the second leg of the autumn double the 2m 2f Cesarewitch and the Gp 1 Dewhurst Stakes for juvenile colts.
My love affair with the 10f G3 Zetland Stakes goes back to the nineties when the race was won by such flat luminaries as Double Trigger, Double Eclipse and Silver Patriarch and I hope we see a good winner this afternoon courtesy of Charlie Appleby’s FLYING HONOURS.
The selection went off 2/7 for the Gp 2 Royal Lodge Stakes here at the last meeting when he could only finish third in a race which developed into a sprint over the last quarter of a mile. Indeed, all four runners were covered by just a length.
Appleby saddled the winner of the corresponding race 12 months ago with Goldspur and there is plenty of stamina in the family of the selection. The market leader holds an entry in the G1 Vertem Futurity in a fortnight’s time but not for the Derby which is something of a surprise.
Batemans Bay looked a thorough stayer when scoring at Haydock over a mile last time and he does hold an entry in the Epsom colts’ classic. That said I would be disappointed if Flying Honours did not return to winning ways.
Recommendation: Flying Honours at 5/4 with Boylesports
The ill-fated Guineas winner Coroebus won the Gp3 Autumn Stakes 12 months ago and Godolphin have won the race five times in the last six years. Silver Knott heads the market this afternoon for Charlie Appleby, and he will appreciate the forecast good ground having been found out on good to soft – not soft as per the official description – ground when last of three in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last time. He carries a 3lbs penalty for his previous G3 success at Sandown.
Holloway Boy won the Chesham on debut at Royal Ascot and has won very well in defeat subsequently with seconds in the G2 Vintage Stakes and G3 Tattersalls Stakes. The step up to a mile will suit, but if there is a classic winner in this field it is surely EPICTETUS who was a ready winner of a 7f Newmarket maiden on debut for John & Thady Gosden.
By Kingman out of a Group 1 winning mare, this beautifully bred colt holds a Derby entry although I would be surprised if his stamina stretched that far. He knew his job on the July course first time out where he had our Zetland Stakes selection Flying Honours and other subsequent winners behind.
Recommendation: Epictetus at 5/2 with 10Bet
My two against the field in the Cesarewitch are CALL MY BLUFF and Run For Oscar with preference for the former in one of the great handicaps on the flat calendar.
Call My Bluff is 3lbs better off with Prince Imperial for the length he was behind the latter in the Trial for the race over C&D last month when he made relentless progress from the rear in a race that the first and second home were 1-2 throughout.
The 5-y-old went on to finish an unlucky second at Chester and Sunday’s Arc hero Luke Morris takes over in the saddle for the first time. A thorough stayer he represents the small Lambourn yard of Dominic Ffrench Davis whose string are in good form. Note the selection – who has a poor draw to overcome – would be carrying an additional 3lbs race if the handicapper could frame the weights for this early closing race again.
Run For Oscar represents the yard of Charles Byrnes and has not seen the track since scoring at Haydock over two miles back in August from an 8lbs lower mark. This race was immediately nominated as his primary end-of-season target, and I like the booking of David Egan for the 7-y-old. Note seven-year-olds have won three of the last eight runnings of the race.
Following the sad news that antepost favourite Adagio lost his life on the gallops on Thursday morning Run For Oscar is now, arguably, too short in the betting at 9/2 for the race but he is a worthy favourite. If he drifts to 6/1 or bigger, I will certainly save on the Irish raider.
Recommendation: Call My Bluff EW at 25/1 with Bet365 6 places
Kitty’s Light finished runner up in the valuable 3m handicap chase on the card 12 months ago from just a 1lb lower mark and he continued to run some fantastic races in defeat including when runner up in the Scottish National back in the spring.
He ended the season finishing third to the subsequent Galway Plate winner Hewick in the valuable Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown yet finds himself 1lb lower. How? Christian Williams had a horse run very poorly at Worcester on Thursday, but the handicapper has certainly given his 6-y-old every chance.
The each way vote, however, goes to bottom weight GATS AND CO who won four on the spin before bombing out in the Summer National at Uttoxeter in June. The selection is unbeaten in three starts at Chepstow and can take the step up in grade in his stride.
Recommendation: Gats And Co EW at 13/2 with William Hill
Paint The Dream won the valuable 2m 4f handicap on the card 12 months ago from a 10lbs lower mark and has every chance of defying top-weight for inform Fergal O’Brien. The 8-y-old is a half-brother to Gats And Co and both will be ridden by Conor Brace the son of owner David.
Paul Nicholls has a decent record at this meeting but has not saddled the winner of this contest since doubling up in 2016 and 2017. FLIC OU VOYOU has not progressed as I hoped he might and is the outsider of the four-runner field, but I think he is the one to beat in receipt of 24lbs from the market leader.
The selection has a good record fresh, won at this meeting in 2020, and took well enough to fences last season although his sole win came in a match. Five of his six career wins have come in single figure fields, the other had ten runners, and this extended 2m 3f trip on decent ground is his optimum.
Recommendation: Flic Ou Voyou at 10/3 with William Hill
I’m looking forward to the reappearance of Proschema in the valuable Silver Trophy for Dan & Harry Skelton, but he was beaten in the corresponding race 12 months ago and is 3lbs higher this afternoon. He was campaigned exclusively over 3m after his comeback last season, and this could pout him spot on for a crack at the Wensleydale Hurdle in three weeks time.
KNAPPERS HILL has never won beyond the minimum trip, but he is unbeaten in five starts on good ground, has won at this meeting for the last couple of years and he looked potentially smart when dotting up at Sandown on his last start back in the spring.
He has been raised 7lbs for that success, but he did win the Aintree Bumper back in April 2021, and remains an exciting prospect for Team Ditcheat.
Recommendation: Knappers Hill at 10/3 with William Hill
There is a terrific card at York, and they were forecast plenty of rain on Friday which should ensure good to soft ground for today’s card.
Tom Marquand shuns Newmarket with gaffer William Haggas chasing the trainer’s title and he has a number of good chances on the Knavesmire. Lattam appeared all at sea on the fast ground at Yarmouth last time and will appreciate underfoot conditions this afternoon, but his wins have been over seven furlongs and a mile, and he is not certain to appreciate this extended 10f.
There are several horses running today I was considering giving one last chance to. Saint Segal at Chepstow and It’s Good To Laugh at York are two, but I cannot let SCHMILSSON go unbacked at 20/1 as he encounters turf with plenty of cut for the first time since finishing runner up to subsequent Derby winner Desert Crown at Nottingham in November.
The each way selection failed to get home over a mile-and-a-half at Royal Ascot back in June but that was from a 13lbs higher mark, and he ended up in the centre of the track on tapeta last time when all the action was stands’ side. He has been put in at 18/1 with William Hill and that may be a shade too big.
Recommendation: Schmilsson EW at 18/1 with William Hill 5 places