COSMELLI is a great value bet for the Northumberland Plate, the race known as the Pitmen’s Derby, at Newcastle (3.35).
Like the turf flat track and Rafa Benitez, the Pitmen are just Geordie memories now. But this is still a great race and Gay Kelleway’s six-year-old looks way overpriced at around 25-1.
He landed the consolation Vase last year in a faster time than Withhold clocked when winning the main event and is only 2lb higher in the ratings now.
He ran an eye-catching prep for this when third in a hot handicap at Kempton last monrth over an inadequate trip of 1m4f.
His Ascot run on unsuitably soft ground can be ignored as he is much better on the all-weather. He has probably been aimed at this since this day in 2018 and, with a light weight and a good draw, seems sure to run a big race.
The plunge horse is Gibbs Hill who was very impressive last time out. But last time out was two years ago, he lacks experience of big handicaps and has to prove he stays beyond 1m4f. Apart from that he is a good thing!
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Mark Johnston’s King’s Advice is chasing a seven-timer but only scraped home last time and is 3lb higher over further in a better race.
Braveheart also runs consistent Austrian School and Chester Cup hero Making Miracles but, despite being a trainer associated with stayers, Johnston has a poor record in this event, on turf or Tapeta.
Red Galileo has a 5lb penalty for his latest Newmarket win but may struggle to confirm the form with runner-up Speedo Boy, who looks the pick of Ian Williams’s trio.
Who Dares Wins and Dubawi Fifty are other solid each-way options.
In the 7f handicap at 5.15 MUBHIJ will be hard to beat. The four-year-old showed promise in a light campaign in 2018 but took his form to a new level when bolting up in a Yarmouth handicap over this trip.
He ran well enough last time at Goodwood where the softer ground blunted his finishing speed. He has already proved his liking for this course and he can resume his upward progress.
Vale Of Kent, Raydiance and Diocles Of Rome all deserve respect but they lack the potential star quality of Mubhij.
Newmarket’s feature event is the Group 3 Criterion Stakes (3.15) and CARDSHARP can prove the real deal.
He looked better than ever when winning at York two starts ago and his flop in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot came over a trip that stretches him and on ground way too soft.
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This 7f is his trip and Frankie Dettori, who didn’t have a bad Ascot, rides. Cardsharp has run twice on the July course, when placed off a mark of 111 in the Bunbury Cup as a three-year-old, and when defeating US Navy Flag as a juvenile. He ticks all the boxes.
Connections of Glorious Journey seem unsure of his best trip, Limato may struggle with his penalty and Suedois, despite a solid form claim, has not won for almost two years.
There is a quality card on the first day of a three-day meeting at Windsor where the big race, the Listed Midsummer Stakes (3.25), can see NEW GRADUATE take the honours.
He was a huge punt for the Hunt Cup at Ascot where the combination of soft ground and a draw in box one put paid to that. But he absolutely lagged in at Ripon prior to that in a race that has proved rock-solid form.
He will prove well up to Listed grade – at least – in time and his time could well be now.
I spy an eyecatcher…
At Kempton on Wednesday GREAT AMBASSADOR made his debut for Ralph Beckett in the 6f juvenile novice.
He was backed from 8-1 in the offices down to 5-2 favourite so had clearly shown plenty at home and he certainly took the eye in the paddock.
But, ironically given the race was on Polytrack, he ran as green as grass.
Slow out of the gates, he had to be scrubbed along and raced wide around the bend, before finding his stride and storming home to force a photo finish.
Sadly for his backers he failed by a nose but his is a name to note. Related to winners over middle distances he will be better suited to further and a stiffer track.
He will win races this year and could have a Great future at three.
Zhui Feng beat Oh This Is Us in this 12 months ago but this is a hotter renewal. Matterhorn has yet to translate his superb sand form to turf and Khafoo Shemeni may find this too tough on his first start for 411 days. Back New Graduate with a degree of confidence!
I was at Kempton earlier this month when MAWAKIB won a 7f handicap in eye-catching style and marked him down as one to watch.
He reappears in the 3.10 at Chester, having been hiked up 7lb. That is fair but he will improve and might run up a sequence.
Topweight Blown By Wind will win races this year and is fairly treated even off a mark of 102. But he is a big beast and Chester may not be his track plus he has the car-park draw to contend with.