The Duke’s Weekend Preview

This is one of the odd times of the year when racing doesn’t quite know whether it is coming or going.

The Flat season is winding down, while National Hunt is popping its head above the parapet and asking if it’s time to come out yet from its summer hibernation.

Of course, the truth is that Flat and Jump racing both continue year round, but most of this season’s best Flat meetings are behind us and National Hunt has not quite got in to full swing, so it leaves an eerie void.

Thankfully, there is one really good race this weeked; the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. Andrea Atzeni has been the winning jockey of this contest for the past four years, which is some achievement. This year his partner in crime is Chilean, who won a Listed race in decent fashion at Haydock. This is a sterner test and while he’s not totally ruled out, there are others who make more appeal.

Aidan O’Brien sends four horses over: Coat Of Arms is a 100/1 outsider so I’m not overly keen on him; The Pentagon is a progressing son of Galileo who won a weak Group 3 last time out and will need a big step up; Seahenge was a decent third in the Dewhurst and I think represents decent each way value especially as he previously won the Champagne Stakes at the track; but, Ryan Moore chooses Saxon Warrior, who is unbeaten after two victories at the Curragh and Naas. I think at 7/4 he is too short in price for me, but there will be plenty who lump on regardless of the odds.

I like two horses in opposition to the short-priced favourite. Roaring Lion has won three in a row including the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket. He should not be dismissed, especially as John Gosden who has had another fabulous year in the big races, trains him. The one I’m going to side with is Verbal Dexterity for trainer Jim Bolger. He won the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh last time out, showing that he has plenty of gears in the process. Any juice in the ground will help his cause, so I’m hoping for a bit more rain on to the Town Moor course.

The other race we’ll look at is another Flat contest, the Bathwick Tyres Stakes, otherwise known as the Group 3 Horris Hill. Dream Today came up against a seemingly good horse in Ghaiyyath in the Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes last time, which was a reasonably good performance. He’s worth a second look if his price drifts out any further, purely on a value basis. Tangled is pretty heavily tried for a two-year-old, as is Nebo. I wouldn’t rule out either with any certainty given they both have some ability to be involved. However, this is an easier test for Mythical Magic who dropped away a bit tamely in a Group 1 last time at Chantilly. He had showed a decent level of ability before that and I’ll take a chance he can regain the winning thread. Have a winning weekend.

Over in Australia all eyes will be on Winx, who looks to continue her marvellous winning streak in the Cox Plate. She is easily the best horse in the race and as such she is no sort of betting prospect. However, she should be a joy to watch as she bids for her third win in one of Australia’s most prestigious contests. Go on girl!

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