THE July Festival is one of my favourites – easy on the eye and enough exciting racing to keep punters happy.
Day 1 throws up three Group races and I have a few fancies at decent prices, plus Newbury gets in on the act too.
We start off in the supposed feature, the Princess of Wales’s Stakes. The Group 2 revolves around one-time Derby hero Masar.
But verging on even money he looks like a horse I want to take on with so many questions still to answer.
He was only fifth at Royal Ascot on his long-awaited return and why he was unlucky, I feel that tune has now been over played and the market has more than over reacted.
He has to prove he can get near back to his best and this will be more of a test than the betting suggests.
He could certainly bounce and with the rest of the field still having points to prove, the one I’m all over is COMMUNIQUE (Newmarket, 3.35, NAP).
Profit and Loss – Using SP*
Mark Johnston’s horse loves a small field and with six runners his dominant front-running style should come to the fore again with Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle.
He has run three times in Newmarket – twice on the Rowley Mile and once here on the July course – and has won all three starts.
The July Course can suit front-runners, a horse well-placed on the rail can be very hard to pass.
Of course a lot depends on SDS getting the fractions right, but who else would you rather have in the saddle?
He does have a penalty to lumber, but it’s only 3lbs and that was for a win in the Jockey Club Stakes over the impressive Defoe. This horse is better than people have given him credit for.
3.35 Newmarket – COMMUNIQUE 1pt win (NAP)
4.40 Newmarket – DUKE OF HAZZARD 1pt win
7.15 Newbury – MATCH MAKER 1pt win
Staying at Newmarket, DUKE OF HAZZARD (Newmarket, 4.40) is another I think has been disregarded in the betting.
He was a busy two-year-old and got his three-year-old campaign underway early this season, back in April.
Two runs behind Persian King is nothing to be sniffed at before he ran into midfield in a hot handicap at Haydock. But the latter of those was under a serious weight in the mix with heaps of unexposed and now proven horses.
He then reportedly suffered a small setback but bounced back in a big way in the Jersey at Royal Ascot.
He looked the winner a furlong out and fared much the best of the horses up with pace, sticking on for an eye-catching fifth.
This is a drop in class and as ever, the Jersey looks solid form. Paul Cole’s stable has come back into form after a quiet spell and I think this horse has a few decent pots in him this season if he can get back on track.
We’re off to Newbury for another of their Thursday evening cards next and I like an unexposed horse for the Simon Crisford team.
MATCH MAKER (Newbury, 7.15) could be absolutely chucked in on handicap debut under James Doyle.
He runs here off 80 and sneaks in at the top of this Class 4 0-80 and has to lumber a big weight up against a host of potentially well-treated three-year-olds.
But a mark of 80 must be generous. He was third to the one time progressive Westerland on debut, before being chucked into Listed company on his second start.
After a near two year layoff he then popped up to Ayr to win a Novice race a couple of weeks ago when backed off the boards.
He only narrowly got up, but jockey Graham Lee looked after him that day and he had plenty left in the tank going over the line.
He goes up in trip a furlong here which will suit and the long Newbury straight should play into his hands. He looks a real galloper.