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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Pointers and Punts – Saturday, 19th August

Matthew Sutcliffe looks back on the previous weekend for smart performances, as well as picking the best value plays ahead of Saturday’s action.

He highlights plenty of horses who caught his eye, including one in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. His selections this week include a couple of E/W fancies at tempting odds – one apiece on the Newbury and Ripon cards.

Published: 1pm 16th August (Odds correct at time of publication)

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Pointers

SATURDAY

13:35 Ascot – Dream Composer – Dream Ahead x High Spice (Songandaprayer) – Trainer: James Evans.  

This five-year old son of Dream Ahead has improved plenty this season with three wins to his name all off a mark in the 90s. Though he’s come up short in the valuable handicaps the last three times, his staying on 3rd in the Ascot Shergar Cup Dash from an unfavourable high draw suggests he’s got another pot in him this season. He was squeezed out at the start there under Frankie Dettori and was taken to the stands side, despite the action unfolding up the middle with the 1st and 2nd coming from stalls 3/2. Now a pound under his last winning mark, he’s of interest next time out once more.

13:55 Newmarket – Beautiful Love – Siyouni x Powder Snow (Dubawi) – Trainer: Charlie Appleby.

It paid to be up on the front end and drawn high in a typically competitive Fillies Maiden at Newmarket in the opener last Saturday, and the Godolphin-bred daughter of Siyouni Beautiful Love was gifted neither of those circumstances. After breaking awkwardly and swerving right out of the stalls, William Buick switched his mount to the far side and covered her up, where she travelled well in midfield. When attempting to go for the a gap up the rail, Beautiful Love was cut up by the eventual 4th Surveyor, forcing her to switch toward the outside, losing further lengths and momentum. William Buick looked after her once he knew his chances of winning were over, however despite all those exertions, Beautiful Love was able to clock the fastest final furlong of the field under hands and heels, making up two places in the final strides. The way she quickened through a gap under minimal urging was impressive, and she’ll have learnt plenty from her first experience of racing. 

14:25 Haydock – Kathab – Kingman x Deep Inside (Redoute’s Choice) – Trainer: William Haggas.

Kathab was gelded as a two year old and not seen until April this year, suggesting he’s taken a bit of work at home to bring the best out of him. He was 2nd in the Wood Ditten to subsequent Dante 3rd Passenger (113R), so it wasn’t entirely surprising to see him take advantage of a mark of 85. Jim Crowley was sat confidently on the son of Kingman two furlongs out before finding a nice seam up the rail, taking the win somewhat cosily in the end. He’s been put up 6lbs for his troubles but still may be better than that. It was hard not to notice his high knee action so if the going comes up soft, he may even improve for it, especially given his two poor performances came on good-to-firm, as opposed to handling ‘good’ far better in his other three starts to date.

15:20 Ascot – Fox Tal – Sea The Stars x Maskunah (Sadler’s Wells) – Trainer: Andrew Balding.

There was plenty of discussion as to whether Joao Moreira had dropped his hands a fraction too early on Fox Tal in the Shergar Cup Mile, and I think the frustrations of those who’d backed him are valid ones. Whether he thought he was home and hosed or not after kicking three lengths clear with a couple furlongs to go, Fox Tal was only just collared by a rejuvenated Perotto who’s hood has proved the oracle in springing him back to form. Despite his awkward head carriage and keenness, it was an excellent performance nonetheless from a 211 day layoff, and just his 2nd start in a handicap, his last coming when 2nd at Chester in 2021. Although he’s been put up 2lbs for his defeat, it could’ve been far worse given he was certainly unlucky not to win, and if Andrew Balding can keep this quirky 7yo fit, then he’s one to persist with in some of top level handicaps, particularly on a flatter/downhill track where he’s able to bowl along with exuberance out in front.

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15:48 Redcar – Aplomb – Lope De Vega x Mickleberry (Desert Style) – Trainer: Jane Chapple-Hyam.

The first time cheekpieces proved the trick for the admirable Tinto who’s become notoriously tricky to weigh up these days, but David Nolan kept it simple on the front end and won going away cosily. Aplomb, on the other hand, had a torrid passage and at one stage looked in danger of being tailed off having been several lengths off the pace throughout. Though evidently somewhat regressive having spent the majority of his career off a mark in the 90s, the relenting oil the handicapper has begun to pay off as he came his closest to winning since a neck 2nd to Mitrosonfire last June. The RP’s description of ‘eye-catcher’ tells half the story, as when he found his stride, Stefano Cherchi was denied a run multiple times, before going for a small gap which saw him squeeze through and finish four places higher within a matter of strides. That run suggested his enthusiasm for the game still remains, and I’d be amazed if Jane Chapple-Hyam fails to get a win out of him off a mark of 81 this year.

16:15 Newmarket – Parlando – Dubawi x Discourse (Street Cry) – Trainer: Ian Williams.

Ian Williams has a keen eye for new recruits from other yards and Godolphin cast off Parlando made a pleasing return to action off a monster 549 day lay-off for his new handler. The gelded son of Dubawi finished a 3/4L 3rd despite hanging right up in the final furlong when mounting his challenge, before straightening up and keeping on well for a place. Given the layoff, it’s plausible to suggest this well-bred individual is somewhat fragile, however the yard are excellent are keeping them fit, and he is one to keep an eye on in some valuable handicaps off a mark of 85.

16:40 Curragh – Porta Fortuna – Caravaggio x Too Precious (Holy Roman Emperor) – Trainer: Donnacha O’Brien.

Bucanero Fuerte will likely take all the plaudits in the coveted G1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, however I do think that the performance of Porto Fortuna will fly slightly under the radar. The previously unbeaten daughter of Caravaggio was taking on the males for the first time and acquitted herself to a classy degree. She travelled just as well as the leader under Oisin Murphy while the others were pushed along, only finding the G2 Coventry 3rd and G2 Railway Stakes winner too good. I think Porta Fortuna will be an interesting proposition when back against her own sex, and she holds conveniently holds an entry in the Lowther Stakes at York next week.

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Weekend Punts

SATURDAY

14:25 Newbury Highclere Castle Gin Handicap (Class 3) (3yo+ 0-88)

WOOLHAMPTON (10/1 generally – 1pt E/W four places)

The addition of blinkers has seemingly sparked major improvement in Woolhampton, who was a neck 2nd to Glamorous Breeze in them at Windsor, before reversing the form with that one at Ascot next time out. I don’t think she coped without company too well as she began to wander slightly one clear on the far-side, however Ross Coakley was able to straighten her up and she won going away in cosy fashion. She’s been put up 4lbs for the win which could have been worse, but she was rated as high as 91 as a two year old so there’s still some scope in her mark. Her course record reads 2523, never beaten more than 2 1/2L including when 2nd here in the prestigious Super Sprint Stakes. She’s won and placed outside of 3yo and fillies company which I value as an important factor when backing a filly, and given she ran to a career best RPR of 93 last time hopefully the blinkers will continue to prove the trick for this progressive daughter of Camacho.

14:40 Ripon William Hill Silver Trophy Handicap (Class 4) (3yo+ 0-80)

MARK’S CHOICE (9/1 generally – 1pt E/W four places) *14/1 Bet365, 10/1 William Hill*

Mark’s Choice won this contest off a 2lbs lower mark in 2021 and is handicapped to go close once more. The seven year old loves it at Ripon with a 30% strike rate from twenty-one runs including a further five places, and just two of his nine wins have come elsewhere. He was a six length last of eight at Doncaster in June, however he is 0-6 there and was also beaten 23L there at the start of the season, so it’s obvious he doesn’t take well to that particular track. Interestingly, he was also beaten a 16L last of seven at Pontefract prior to winning this contest in 2021, albeit that did come after wind surgery. The majority of his victories have come on neutral ground, and given he’s raced three times on soft and once on good-to-firm, it could be that he’s just not had his prime conditions to suit so far. However, the more I look into the excuses for his runs since winning over C&D last August, the more I think he’s simply been tailored for this event and recent form is perhaps wise to draw a line through. To back up that suggestion, he was a very good 3rd in the Great St. Wilfred here last year from 10lbs out of the weights after being beaten 9L at York. With conditions seemingly likely to suit this weekend providing there’s no torrential downpour, I’d expect Mark’s Choice to be a revitalised force back at his beloved Ripon and go close in taking his record in this race to 2-3.

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Matt Sutcliffe’s Weekend Bets

SATURDAY

2.25 Newbury – WOOLHAMTPON (1pt E/W four places – 10/1 generally)

2.40 Ripon – MARK’S CHOICE (1pt E/W four places – 9/1 generally)


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