Saturday’s racing line-up is a real treat with cracking Group 1 contests taking part on both sides of the pond, including a mouth-watering renewal of the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
The 1¼m contest features the first three in last month’s Juddmonte International at York, Yorkshire Oaks heroine The Fugue and the race also marks the return of Kingsbarns, who went into the winter as Aidan O’Brien’s leading Classic hope after landing the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.
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It will be fascinating to see how the last-named performs on his belated reappearance, having suffered a setback before the start of the current campaign. It’s no great surprise, however, that stable jockey Joseph O’Brien sticks with DECLARATION OF WAR and the four-year-old has to be backed at the generally available 5/2.
In contrast to his chief market rivals, Declaration of War will not be inconvenienced should conditions at Leopardstown deteriorate – underfoot conditions are immaterial to the colt – and there didn’t appear to be any fluke about his victory in the International, in which he saw off the re-opposing duo Trading Leather and Al Kazeem.
Even if the ground does remain on the quick side, I reckon Al Kazeem, who was sent off a short-priced favourite on the Knavesmire last month, will prove vulnerable once again. He didn’t travel with his usual fluency at York and to my mind Roger Charlton’s stable star is much more at home on a stiffer, more testing track.
Indeed, even if, as expected, rank outsider Euphrasia goes haring off in front, there is highly likely to be more of an emphasis on speed than stamina in this contest, which will play to the strengths of Declaration of War, who is a Group 1 winner over a mile, just as it did in the International Stakes.
The most prestigious race of the day in Britain is the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, and unless the ground eases appreciably LETHAL FORCE can add this Group 1 prize to his burgeoning CV.
The son of Dark Angel was so impressive when making all in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket earlier in the summer, and lost little caste in defeat when runner-up to the classy filly Moonlight Cloud at Deauville last time.
Lethal Force handles cut in the ground, but there’s little doubt that he’s a better horse on a quick surface, so his effort in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last month was all the more meritorious as conditions were on the soft side in France on that occasion.
Good Lord Byron, who was not far behind the selection in third at Deauville, would be very appealing were the heavens to open wide over Haydock in the run-up to the Sprint Cup, while fellow Irish raider Slade Power, Lethal Force’s stablemate Reckless Abandon and Garswood, a winner at Glorious Goodwood last month, are others with claims.
Over at Ascot there’s a massive pot on offer in the Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap and it’s deeply competitive, with relatively little to choose between all 15 that are set to go to post, but the vote goes to GLENARD, who is available at a tempting 12/1 with Bet Victor and Ladbrokes at the time of writing.
You could argue that he’s not as progressive as the likes of Special Meaning, Elhaame and Cafe Society, but Charles Hills’ charge looks solid overall, brings C&D form to the table, has a handy single-figure draw and he showed a good attitude when seeing off some useful types at Haydock last time.
The Totescoop6 London Mile Handicap at Kempton features a rematch between Ehtedaam and SEEK AGAIN, who were first and second respectively over C&D recently. The former, who was sporting a first-time hood, scored in ready fashion and a 6lb rise does not look prohibitive.
However, the Godolphin horse was better drawn than Seek Again on that occasion and got first run on the latter. This time John Gosden’s charge has been dealt a better hand draw-wise and, providing Robert Havlin can avoid the inevitable traffic problems in the home straight, Seek Again can come out on top this time.
1.55 Don’t Call Me
2.05 Normal Equilibrium
3.15 Kiama Bay
3.50 Lethal Force
2.55 Seek Again
6.50 Declaration of War