The Classic action comes from the Curragh this weekend as Aidan O’Brien bids for a 40th Irish Classic success in the Irish Oaks.
O’Brien saddles three of the seven runners this afternoon and Magic Wand (11/8 with BetVictor) deserves her place at the top of the market after her fluent win in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last month. It was visually a very impressive performance but stablemate Athena palpably failed to stay and I am going to take a chance on the stamina of Sea Of Class (5.30) who is stepping up in grade and trip this afternoon for William Haggas.
The selection has won two of her three career starts including the last two in listed company over 10f at Newbury. Her pedigree suggests she has every chance of getting home over today’s additional quarter of a mile and the way she picked up Athena – subsequent Group 1 winner over 10f – on her second career start earmarked her as a potential star. The selection is 2/1 with BetVictor and I will be disappointed if she doesn’t run a big race.
At Newbury I am looking forward to the return to Britain of the lightly-raced Emotionless (1.50) who looked a potential star as a juvenile for Charlie Appleby and has been plying his trade in Meydan of late. He finished second to Benbatl running on over 9f last time and today’s additional furlong should suit. The selection is 7/4 (from 2/1) at BetVictor and I would be disappointed run a big race with Desert Encounter having to put behind a rare bad run last time.
Stratum (2.25) drops back in trip to 2m having finished third – running on – in the Ascot Stakes over an additional half-mile at Royal Ascot. The selection was previously with John Gosden but has joined Willie Mullins whose British raiders- whether it be flat or jumps – are always respected.
Robert Winston keeps the ride in the colours of Brighton FC owner Tony Bloom who has already won one big 2m Handicap this term courtesy of Withhold in the Northumberland Plate. The selection is 4/1 with BetVictor and I hope to see Winston ride the horse more prominently especially as he has the plum draw in stall one.
Thirteen go to post for the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen and, historically, it is a race won by a young progressive hurdler. Fair Mountain (7/2) with BetVictor) certainly fits that bill for the Skelton’s who have been taking all before then this summer. I am hoping, however, that the 9-year-old Hassle (2.05) can go close for Dr Richard Newland.
The selection (8/1 at BetVictor) failed to get home over two-and-a-half-miles in the Ascot Stakes when last seen, but travelled like a very good horse and had previously run away with a hurdle here over slightly further. Talented conditional Charlie Hammond keeps the ride and I would expect him to race prominently as he would not want the race to develop into a sprint over the last couple of flights.
The Summer Plate is a terrific handicap chase and Sumkindofking (would have been the selection had it not been for the form of the Tom George yard who have had five runners in the last fortnight and all have run poorly.
I feel Monsieur Gibraltar (3.15) is overpriced at 16/1 with BetVictor given you can put a line through his latest run at Stratford when the ground was soft and not good as per the official description. Lorcan Williams takes off a valuable 7lbs. Trainer Paul Nicholls saddled the winner of this race 12 months ago with Alcala who is back again this year from only a 1lb higher mark.
I have always felt Royal Village (4.25) would make a decent chaser for connections and he makes his chase debut for Ian Williams this afternoon. The selection fell on his sole point ion Ireland but has the scope to make his mark over the larger obstacles. A market move for Winner Massagot would be worth noting.
Old Salt (5.00) was beaten less than a length by Go West Young Man who is 6lbs worse off this afternoon. This slightly longer trip should suit the selection who is clearly progressing well over fences.
Line Of Duty (6.30) must go down as one of the unluckiest losers of the season to date and is, arguably, a winner without a penalty having failed to get a run at Sandown on debut. William Buick flies up from Newbury to take the ride at Haydock on a colt who holds an entry in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at the Curragh next month.