This has been a flat season run at dizzying speed, and one of the benefits of the changed pattern is that, whilst not only having top class action to watch each and every week, we also now make the most use of Sundays. Today is an excellent example, with two Group 1 races, one from Ireland and also from France, whilst there’s also a high class card at Salisbury.
In the Prix Maurice de Gheest (2.50) Earthlight is an understandable favourite, having taken quality renewals of the Morny and Middle Park last year before reappearing with a fine win in the Prix Kistena. On both occasions he beat Golden Horde, but there was precious little between them and the Commonwealth Cup winner and July Cup third looked a stronger horse in both those runs, and 9/2 about him looked big in relation to the favourite.
This is a race which looks to have seven realistic contenders and it’s impossible to leave out Wichita. He needs forgiving for his run in the Sussex Stakes, when he was struck into and apparently had an irregular heartbeat, but his close Guineas second and St James’s Palace third showed a great attitude and fine amounts of raw pace too (recorded some of fastest closing splits through all of Royal Ascot then) and if he’s back to his best then 14’s is far too big at a trip we know he has the pace for.
In Ireland, the choice in a very competitive Phoenix Stakes (3.10) is Lucky Vega, who might have been a tad blunted by the ground after a fairly long absence when second to Laws Of Indices in the Railway Stakes here. His Naas maiden win looks to be some of the best form in the field – certainly stronger at face value than Steel Bull’s Molecomb win – and he gets the vote to overturn that form and edge out The Lir Jet and Ventura Tormenta.
There’s also a high class card at Salisbury, where Duke of Hazzard gets the vote in the Sovereign Stakes (3.25). Paul and Oliver Cole’s four-year-old has run two fine races the last twice, first finishing a fine third behind Mohaather in the Summer Mile, and then when bumping into Space Blues over a furlong shorter at Goodwood in the Lennox Stakes. Both those runs would set a reasonable form standard here and as long as David Probert can get a good stall position from eight, he can go close. Motakhayyel, a winner of the Buckingham Palace Handicap and then the Bunbury Cup, is hugely respected here and looks the main threat although Marie’s Diamond would be a big danger with an easy lead. Positive would be a serious contender at his best, but we haven’t seen it in two runs this season.
Earlier on the card, there could be an opportunity in the AJN Steelstock / Pam Bruford Memorial Handicap (2.15) by backing Konchek to turn the form around with Tone The Barrone from their recent Ascot run. In a race run at a blistering gallop – the leaders ran two of the middle three furlongs in under 11.30 – he was in the firing line and actually was passed early on, before rallying to finish a good third. 6lbs better off today, this sharper track could well help him reverse that form and whilst this will be a hotly run race, he looks too big in comparison to his rivals.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Konchek 1 pt win in 2.15 Salisbury at 9/2 starsports.bet
BACK Golden Horde 1 pt win in 2.50 Deauville at 9/2 starsports.bet
BACK Wichita 1 pt win in 2.50 Deauville at 14/1 starsports.bet
BACK Lucky Vega 1 pt win in 3.10 Curragh at 9/2 starsports.bet
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 213.67 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Cricket 1st Test ENG v PAK)