Ascot’s popular Shergar Cup takes place on Saturday with runners and riders from all over the world taking part. However, the true quality is elsewhere as we take in pattern racing from Haydock and Newmarket in the UK as well as top class action from the United States.
There is British and Irish interest in the USA late on Saturday with three fascinating Graded races in Illinois at Arlington Park.
2.30 Haydock – Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, 1m2½f Group 3
Sir Michael Stoute’s 4yo has a penalty to carry here was is in the form of his life when winning the Brigadier Gerard when last seen in May. The ground is drying nicely but may still just not be quick enough for him.
Francis Of Assisi
This fascinating 7yo, trained by Charlie Appleby was once a hurdler but did very well on flat down in Australia last winter. He hasn’t run for 280 days but should give a good account of himself here.
An admirable type but also seemingly a fast ground specialist who may be slightly inconvenienced here.
Mark Johnston’s type is tough and may still improve and has kept good company all season.
Three from three now and improving all the time. He’s won over this course and distance, though that was on fast ground but being by Pivotal lends some credence to the theory that he’ll be even better on easier going.
Richard Hannon’s colt has plugged along and has a decent race in him somewhere.
112 Larchmont Lad
110 Francis Of Assisi
108 Spark Plug
Given the slightly rain softened ground at Haydock this week, the improvement of LARAAIB could be expedited somewhat here and a Group win beckons. The admirable Larchmont Lad may yet grab a win in a similar race, but could settle for place money here.
3.00 Haydock – 1m Handicap
A fine type but a real seven-furlong specialist and one therefore who could be stretched a little here.
Being trained by Tom Dascombe it’s not surprise that this one knows the track well and we pretty much know where we stand with him.
Two For Two
Not at his best anymore but still a winner this season, perhaps needs to be lower in the weights.
Taking out his last race when he was held up but didn’t settle, the Hannon gelding has done nothing but improve and is ready for another step forward here.
Failed when expected to win last time, all is not lost yet and he could still have something in hand.
92 El Cap
91 Calder Prince
84 Fingal’s Cave
84 Two For Two
This looks like a great opportunity for Richard Hannon’s 3yo MUSTARRID to take a decent prize as he continues on the upgrade. Fellow classic generation entrant El Cap may improve again to take second while Calder Prince looks clear of the rest.
3.35 Haydock – Dick Hern Stakes, 1m Fillies & Mares Listed Race
This girl has simply not stopped improving this year, though is carrying a slight burden.
Just third in a Listed event last time but is improving and had been favourite for a similar race as far back as May. John Gosden knows how to treat these types and if they run in such races, it’s because they can win them.
Fifth in a good Listed race at Ascot last time and still getting better. Keeps running a little better than her official rating in my opinion and can do so again here.
Queen Of Time
Second when favourite for the race in which Dancing Breeze was just behind in third, though all of her form and breeding suggests she needs genuinely fast ground.
Sea Of Grace
The one in here with genuine Group 1 form. Beat Eziyra twice last year (now rated 107) when with John Oxx in Ireland and was second in this year’s French 1000 Guineas. Beaten in the Falmouth last time on unsuitable fast ground but this should be much more to her liking.
112 Sea Of Grace
102 Lincoln Rocks
101 Dancing Breeze
100 Queen Of Time
William Haggas’ filly SEA OF GRACE is head and shoulders above these and so with much more suitable ground conditions, she should score before going back up to Group 1 company. Mittens could improve again and may take a hand ahead of the consistent Lincoln Rocks.
3.40 Newmarket – Sweet Solera Stakes, 7f 2yo Group 3
Won a soft ground course and distance novice race last time which takes conditions out of the equation as a negative factor, though the form itself doesn’t look strong enough.
Stepping up to seven furlongs here and the hope will be that she will improve again for it, however conditions possibly favour a potential middle-distance type and she doesn’t look to be that on breeding. Good record so far though.
An Irish raider with some strong form behind Coolmore’s Clemmie, she’s perhaps more of a sprinting type though.
Made a very good impression on debut but favourite Mushahadaat failed next time and so it’s hard to weigh up the form.
Made a very good debut, already a 7f winner and by Dubawi meaning her breeding is much more encouraging in the context of this race. She looks a proper Group 1 type and can take this before going on to better things.
Won’t struggle in the conditions having done well to win in similar ground over 7f last time, however there doesn’t look to be a lot more to give just yet.
110 Poetic Charm
102 Mamba Noire
101 Dance Diva
93 Capla Temptress
Godolphin’s POETIC CHARM looks the one here and either by luck or by design, Charlie Appleby has been smart enough to enter a future middle-distance performer here in what will be a tough enough seven furlongs to get. Others are quick but perhaps won’t get home as well as the daughter of Dubawi, such as Mamba Noire and Dance Diva.
9.50 Arlington Park – Secretariat Stakes, 1m2f 3yo Grade 1
The French colt comes here on the back of a Listed win and a second in a Group 2 last time out. Form and breeding would suggest firm ground may not be absolutely ideal, though a big run will be expected nonetheless.
Mark Johnston’s admirable workhorse didn’t fire in this year’s Derby and so was perhaps slightly underrated by some. Before he won at Royal Ascot, he beat Benbatl in the Dante who himself went on to Ascot glory before claiming 5th in the King George. Also in behind at York was Crystal Ocean, an impressive winner of the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.
Mark Johnston’s horses have shown they can take a leap forward and that may be the case for this horse who has been targeted at this race.
A confirmed firm ground horse over this trip, the likely favourite can go well again here but may just be held off.
Experienced already and rather up and down in terms of form. He was a good fourth behind Benbatl at Ascot in quick conditions though which gives him a chance here.
116 Taj Mahal
115 Oscar Performance
Given the weight concession Taj Mahal must have a great chance and will certainly have been prepared well, however PERMIAN has been underrated somewhat and looks a genuine Group 1 horse who is still getting better as the months go on.
11.35 Arlington Park – Beverly D Stakes, 1m1½f Fillies & Mares Grade 1
A four-time Grade 1 winner already, she will relish the conditions but has not been in great form of late.
Not a lot of form to go on, but a Group 1 win in Italy and a course and distance win last time in a Grade 3 handicap read well.
A recent recruit from Europe, a good move too by Khalid Abdullah since she seems to love these fast conditions. She will have to step up a lot on her recent form though.
Rainha Da Bateria
Close form with Dacita from last year and very consistent, may just lack a little something here though.
A good German filly who on breeding may have been crying out for fast ground. On the basis that she may improve for the conditions and the travelling, she must have a chance here.
Formerly British trained but doing well now in the States, she won a Grade 2 last time and beat Dacita back in May.
Runner-up now in two Group 1’s at home, including one behind super filly Enable, she has enjoyed the faster going when she’s had the chance to race on it. The vastly different conditions here will help her to show some better form and so despite the wide draw she is a worthy early favourite.
117 Rain Goddess
109 Dona Bruja
107 Grand Jete
106 Rainha Da Bateria
The draw is perhaps not ideal, but RAIN GODDESS looks the best of these by some way and should score ahead of Sarandia who could go off at a big price.
12.19 Arlington Park – Arlington Million Stakes, 1m2f Grade 1
Third in the race last year having been well beaten in the Derby but comes into this year’s race in much better form. All things considered, a proper Grade 1 performance is on the way here for Aiden O’Brien’s horse.
Consistent enough at Graded level, but perhaps just not quite good enough.
Won the Secreteriat Stakes on this card last year and was just behind Deauville at Belmont before that. It could be argued that the O’Brien horse has improved even more though and so a win would be brilliant, but a bit of a stretch.
Beat Beach Patrol in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and was a close-up sixth in the Manhattan Stakes last time. Good, perhaps not good enough.
Jean-Claude Rouget’s second entry on the card is his main hope, a Group 1 winner in May in the Prix d’Ispahan. In terms of both form and breeding, it’s hard to know how he will handle the ground or whether he has the speed for this.
115 Beach Patrol
Aiden O’Brien’s DEAUVILLE could be one of the bets of the weekend. He seems well clear of these and already knows the place well. He has improved so much over the last year and could yet prove to be one of their crack Group/Grade 1 performers worldwide. Makhtaal could be best of the rest.