13:55 Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap
The obvious thing to note in the opener is the abundance of early pace, and that suggests that there will be a ferocious gallop which will count against those at the front end. Personally, I don’t see the race unfolding to suit those held up, which is a controversial view, as any race with such a plethora of pace tends to be deemed as being run to suit those who can close from the back. My view is that when a sprint race is run at a scorching pace from the start, the two groups which tend to be compromised are those who need to dominate and those who take time to warm to their task. Very few horses characterised as hold-up performers fit the stereotype of strong travellers with an ability to quicken in the closing stages.
Most are held up because racing prominently is not an option, or because doing so will show a flaw in their makeup, as with hard-pullers who need cover, habitual slow starters, or those who just take time to find a rhythm. As a result, most of these horses are better served by races run at an even tempo, or even slowly-run affairs which don’t punish their quirks. In a race run strongly from the start, those capable of travelling within themselves close to the pace are often at a distinct advantage.
It’s easy to want to skip over a race of this nature to start the day, with so many chances, but I think there is a very strong place-only play in the race, and that is Final Venture who isn’t as prolific as he once was, but has dropped to a very fair mark, and has plenty of form in better company, having been forced to contest pattern races after getting very high in the handicap.
He has twice run well at the track this season, better than the result after a stumble at the start behind the rejuvenated George Bowen, and again when third in a big field behind Mr Lupton and El Astronaute. He showed there that he doesn’t need to lead, and will be better suited to sitting just behind a likely scorching pace than most.
Recommended: Back Final Venture to place @ 3.75 or bigger (2pts liability)
15:00 Great Voltigeur Stakes
I’m tempted to take on the overrated Kew Gardens here, and although he’s won both the Queen’s Vase and the Grand Prix de Paris on his last two starts, neither of those contests were particularly strong, and he must concede weight to a clearly superior rival in the shape of Cross Counter here. Unfortunately, the market is coming round to that point of view as well, and there is a much bigger discrepancy in the prices of that pair than expected. I can see the money coming for the O’Brien runner later in the day, and if Kew Gardens dipped under 5.0, he’d tempt me as a win lay. For the time being, however, I’ll sit this one out.
Recommended: No Bet
15:35 Juddmonte International Stakes
Once again, I’m struggling to see a great deal of value at the current prices, but I think there is a decent chance of movement here later, so I’ll take my chances that we’ll get matched at more attractive odds than currently on offer about Roaring Lion. John Gosden’s grey colt has his quirks, as he initially showed when throwing away the Racing Post Trophy, and his tendency to drift under pressure has called his willingness into question. He again came off a straight line when winning the Eclipse by a neck from Saxon Warrior, but found plenty for pressure, and it would be unfair to crab his character for all that wayward tendency must be taken into accounts.
He showed blistering acceleration to win the Dante over course and distance, and the wide expanse of the Knavesmire looks ideal for him. Poet’s Word is a tough opponent and deserves to be favourite, but I’m expecting the King George winner to take the lion’s share of the market, and that should help Roaring Lion to drift to a slightly better price.
Recommended: Back Roaring Lion to win @ 4.7 or bigger (2pt liability)