A competitive start to the day with this Class 2 Handicap with ten runners set to race over a mile on the July course.
We saw a front runners going well here last week and it’ll be a battle between Ifwecan and Boonga Roogeta to get that lead. The former raced just three days ago finishing second, leaving the question how much that took out of him ahead of this. The latter races on all grounds and has won off higher marks. However both wins at Newmarket have come on the Rowley mile and from two starts on this course is yet to place.
Azraff won twice last year include a win on this course. He is yet to add to those wins but has been knocking on the door at a number of trips. After a second and a fourth (behind Time Test) over one-mile-two-furlongs he dropped back to this trip to finish second behind Oracolo at Doncaster. The blinkers stay on and with what looks set to be a strongly ran race he could finally add to his tally.
Fellow three-year-olds Emirates Skycargo and Strong Steps look to be two dangers. Godolphin’s runner was third on the other coursetwo starts ago before being placed second after the stewards found Gibeon to inter with his run. To the eye that looked quite a good race and running to that should see him close. Hugo Palmer’s Strong Steps is lightly raced and despite a 6lb rise for finishing second on his latest start is likely to go close. The only slight concern would be if the ground came up any softer than what it is currently described as.
Azraff (E/W if 9/2+)
William Haggas’ three-year-old Sealife looked very smart when winning a Windsor maiden on debut. She looked like a useful prospect and running against exposed types off a mark of 83 gives her a very good chance, as she could be much better than that. Even though she won on debut the filly should be better for that run and be stronger here.
Little Lady Katie was seven of 17 in big field handicap at York over 7f won by Udododontu, who himself was second in the Britannia Stakes, giving some strength to her form. She was a winner making all at Ayr before placed 2nd by the stewards last time over this distance. She has the new jockey championship leader Silvestre De Sousa booked to ride, which is an added positive.
Rekdhat is yet to win from two starts this season, but raced in Listed company last time where he was staying on inside the final furlong at Pontefract. Two starts ago he was behind the smart looking prospect of Lightning Spear, who was second behind Arod at Ascot last weekend.
Spirit Raiser was a good 2nd on her last start, snatching the position from Forest Maiden in last few strides. She is off the same mark here and a replication of that run should see her close and confirm the form with the Godolphin runner here.
This looks a very strong Listed race for Fillies and Mares over one-mile-and-four-furlongs with nine runners set to take their chances.
Dream Child won a Listed race over at Deauville last time and carries a 3lb penalty here. She was second behind Miss Marjurie at Goodwood three starts ago and that form looks strong with the winner going on to win the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock since then. However the third from that Goodwood race was Arabian Comet, who is 3lb better off here and was unlucky in running when last seen 77 days ago. She herself was placed in the Group 3 Langtry Stakes at Goodwood and here she should go close.
Jordan Princess has been fourth on both starts this season, including behind the aforementioned pair. Last time she was fourth in the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks where she looked one paced in the closing stages. She has claims but not one that my money would be on. Bright Approach hasn’t been seen for over a year after finishing 11 of 12 in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot. Her best form comes on slow ground, so any rain would be welcomed by connections. If that rain comes and if she is fully fit then she could give those at the head of the market something to think about.
Arabian Comet (WIN)
The Steventon Stakes is a Listed race where the ‘dead eight’ go to post over one mile and two furlongs.
Consort is your most likely winner but offers no value in this race. He was third in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and he is stepping up in trip but sire won over this distance but that said doesn’t mean his stamina is a given.
Mustadeem was third at Royal Ascot behind Time Test in the Group 3 Tercentenary. Two starts ago he was second behind Peacock in a listed race; Peacock was ahead of him in that Royal Ascot race too. His mark looks fair for those efforts and a replication of those should see a good run.
Mark Johnston’s Fire Fighting has been heavily raced so far this season and ran in some big field handicaps including a third in the Wolferton Handicap behind Mahsoob at Royal Ascot. Last weekend he was six of 17 at York but back in Listed company he has potential to place.
Of the rest there is Roger Varian’s Intilaaq, who steps up in trip but has something to find based on his handicap mark. He won maiden at this track over a mile and his pedigree suggests should get this trip. His sire’s progeny have a 34% strike rate (41 wins from 119) at this trip.
14:55 Market Rasen
We take in a bit of jumping from Market Rasen for one of the more valuable prizes over summer with nearly £20,000 in prize money. The Summer Hurdle is a Listed race where 17 are set to go to post.
A chance is taken with Surf And Turf who won the Grade 3 Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree and is a consistent horse over fences. His hurdles mark is 6lb lower than chasing, which gives him a very good chance here at a price. Connections have booked James Reveley, which is a good jockey booking. A run to his chasing ability should see him go close back over the smaller obstacles.
Hurricane Hollow was with Keith Dalgliesh and won bumper on first start. Since then he has won three starts from four over hurdles. Dan Skelton’s horses have been in good form and he has a good strike rate at this track. As a five-year-old he looks like an improving sort and is a player in this field.
John Ferguson’s pair Commissioned and Buckwheat have to come into consideration. Commissioned ran in graded company two starts ago at Aintree but unseated. He won by 18l last time, which has seen mark rise by 12lb. Mikey Ennis takes a good 5lb off and Buckwheat is fairly unexposed only having ad three starts over obstacles. He has won two from three over hurdles but needs to find some improvement, which is likely to come. Based on jockey bookings alone he looks to be the trainers first choice.
Gioia Di Vita looks to be the improving one of Dr Richard Newland’s pair. He has won twice this season, with the other a second. Some of those efforts have been over further and he has won comfortably suggesting a race like this could be in him despite being out of the handicap. Sam Twiston-Davies booked to take the ride is quite eyecatching. Gran Maestro his other runner has been running to a consistent level on the flat and won over hurdles last September.
Surf And Turf (E/W)
The Hackwood Stakes is a Group 3 raced over six-furlongs. This year’s renewal sees only six runners in line to take their chance for quite a nice prize.
Aeolus swooped late to beat Mattmu in the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle and the handicapper has given him an 8lb rise for that win. The ground should be just about right for him to give his running. Preference is for Portamento, who came sweeping home to deny Anonymous John at Chester last weekend and could build on that career best effort. The way he came off the pace to win and stride clear suggested he could be useful. He is getting a weight allowance for being a three-year-old, which is an added bonus plus he isn’t as ground dependant as a few of his rivals are.
Watchable was behind Aelous at Newcastle but previously was fifth in a race won by Goldream, who has since won the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. He hasn’t won since September last year and may require better ground than what he could get here. Strath Burn holds entries into the Sprint Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes. He won a maiden at odds-on nine days ago after being disqualified after winning on debut here last July. He is a consistent type and one to consider at a bigger price.
15:30 Market Rasen
There is another valuable prize over obstacles but this time over fences for the Summer Plate.
It’s A Gimme won this race last year beating stablemate Lost Legend however he comes here off an 11lb higher mark and would need a career best. His last race saw him finish second at Stratford but the trip may have been inadequate, so stepping back up in trip is a positive to his chances. Barry Geraghty takes the ride for JP McManus as the new retained jockey.
Dell’Arca won a weak chase contest by six lengths at Uttoxeter when last seen 55 days ago suggesting he is better over fences despite jumping concerns when hurdling. Over hurdles he was a third of four at the Punchestown Festival behind Faugheen and was placed in two Class 2 Handicaps. Prominent in the market but there are still slight concerns about his jumping.
The Skelton brothers team up again with Pumped Up Kicks but she could still be anything. She was last of four on soft ground on her British debut at Ascot before winning a Listed handicap for mares at Cheltenham in April by nine lengths. She carried a penalty and won just a week later. She comes here in form and 11lb higher than that Cheltenham win, so has to be respected. Valco De Touzaine won 27 days ago at Worcester and has steadily improved over fences. It would be no surprise to see him in the winners enclosure for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls.
However a chance is going to be taking on Baby Mix, who runs his races without winning. He was second at Punchestown, which saw his mark rise by 6lb. That could have what cost him when he was last seen behind Carrigmorna King but back off similar weights here he is likely to run his race and go very close. At a double figure price he could be the way in, as he is a consistent and reliable type. A mention has to go to Champion Court, who has won on both starts this season but may find this difficult off a 6lb higher mark and against some lesser exposed types over fences.
Baby Mix (E/W)
What better way to finish than a five-furlong sprint for two-year-old’s.
Richard Hannon is strongly represented and won this race with Tiggy Wiggy last year. Great Page won a Listed race at Naas two starts ago in good style but disappointed when fourth of six at the Curragh. If she can run anywhere close to that Naas win then she’ll be in the frame. Belvoir Bay was second on debut at Leicester before taking the eye when powering clear at Windsor 19 days ago. She is an interesting runner from the Hannon yard despite Richard Hughes switching to Great Page.
Clive Cox has big hopes for Soapy Aitken. She won his first two starts before running well to finish fourth of 27 in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot. He was disappointing last time at Sandown but dropping from a Listed race to a Class 2 race then he should be able to go close. Paul Hanagan takes the ride for the first time and hopefully he can keep him prominent.
Excessable won a Maiden Auction race at Ripon on debut and the second won two starts later and beat the Brocklesby second First Bombardment. In a Novice race last time he was beaten but the form looks to be working out from that and the fact he holds a Gimcrack entry means he needs respect. Tim Easterby won this race back in 2012 with Body And Soul.
Two at prices to consider would be Moondyne Joe and Hawatif. The former represents Karl Burke, who’s a trainer in form and his two-year-olds have gone well so far this year. Moondyne Joe won an ordinary looking Maiden Auction at Carlisle but is likely to be better for that and could be an interesting runner with the way he came home strongly. Hawatif runs for Mark Johnston and was fourth behind Blue Bayou on debut. The winner from that was then third in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket last weekend. Both of her efforts have been over six furlongs, so dropping back to five furlongs could see her effective from the front.
Soapy Aitken (E/W if 9/2+)