Racing Expert & Columnist
Alex Hammond's racing blog
Last Updated: 20/07/17 11:30am
Sky Sports News HQ's Alex Hammond picks out some horses to follow and looks ahead to the weekend action in this week's blog.
Would you back Caravaggio or Limato to gain revenge on Harry Angel the next time they meet or do you think Clive Cox's sprinter can go on to prove himself the leading light in the division?
What a race the Darley July Cup promised to be and it didn't let us down. Obviously I was disappointed that The Tin Man didn't play a hand in the finish, but the winner Harry Angel was seriously impressive. To answer your question, it would depend entirely on which race and over which trip.
Harry Angel has taken a little time to grow up and he's been patiently handled by Clive Cox, who is now the go-to trainer for top class sprinters. The three-year-old is getting better with each start, both physically and mentally and will be tough to beat for those that finished behind him on Saturday; my word he has some serious speed. Reading between the lines it sounds like he has been a handful to deal with, but seems to be maturing with each run and was certainly a shrewd yearling purchase at £44,000 by Cox and is a valuable commodity as a stallion whatever happens from here on in.
As for last Saturday's race, Harry Angel was getting 6lb from the older horses, which included Limato and third-placed Brando and if they face off again at Haydock in the Sprint Cup that weight for age allowance will be cut to 2lb. That should bring them closer together, but I feel Harry Angel is progressing fast and it may be wishful thinking to hope the placings will be reversed.
Harry Angel is Sky Bet's 11/8 favourite for the Sprint Cup at Haydock, with Limato at 7s and Caravaggio a point bigger at 8/1. That 11/8 may look value in time.
The Irish Oaks may have proved to be straightforward for Enable but could she win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe?
Well, she can win the Arc, but will she?
She has done everything asked of her against her own sex and her first test against the boys could be in the King George if it doesn't come too quickly after her Curragh assignment. She's Sky Bet's 5/1 joint favourite for the Arc at Chantilly on 1st October and well deserved too, particularly when you look at the record of three-year-old fillies in the middle distance European showpiece. Classic generation fillies receive 3lb from colts of the same age and 11lb from older males.
Obviously we haven't seen Almanzor (current joint favourite for the Arc) since his win in the Champion Stakes in October due to a shockingly-debilitating virus in Jean-Claude Rouget's yard and the four-year-old is taking his time to come to hand. The three-year-old colts don't look an outstanding bunch and that makes the race very winnable for John Gosden's superb dual Classic-winning filly.
It was easy to miss things on Super Saturday so could you give us an eyecatcher that may have gone under the radar?
I suppose an obvious one is Aidan O'Brien's Gustav Klimt, the winner of Saturday's Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. He was hampered, but gathered himself up and showed a good attitude to get his head in front. He's now 6/1 clear favourite for next season's 2000 Guineas with Sky Bet and 14s for the Derby and no doubt he'll carry that expectation into winter quarters.
Okay, he didn't exactly fly under the radar, so I'll also give you Ascot winner Mittens. Sir Michael Stoute's three-year-old filly looks capable of progressing out of handicap company. Bin Battuta stayed on well to win Ascot's mile and a half handicap and is another one that looks to be on the up. Saeed Bin Suroor is sure to step him up in grade now too. Finally, York winner Theydon Grey doesn't look straightforward, but he gets on well with apprentice Georgia Cox who coaxes the best out of him and there could be more to come over staying trips on the Flat for William Haggas's four-year-old.
It's the calm after the storm this weekend with the Weatherby's Super Sprint taking centre stage at Newbury; a simple question, the winner please?
Now I've stopped laughing, let's have a serious look at this uber-competitive five-furlong sales race. The weights are determined by the sales price of each individual horse, so the cheaper the purchase price, the less weight they carry; although there are penalties to carry if the horse has won a certain class of race. Snazzy Jazzy cost £50,000, so carries 9st 1lb. At the foot of the weights, Onefootinparadise only cost 2,000 guineas, so has been allocated 8st. That's the gist of it, without getting too bogged down in race conditions.
Richard Hannon Snr was instrumental in the development of this race and has won it numerous times and his son Richard has another strong hand in the race this year. Richard Fahey is another trainer that has done well in the past and he has five runners, headed by Maggies Angel.
Jump racing pops it's head up with a couple of valuable and well contested races at Market Rasen. Who should we be looking out for in Lincolnshire on Saturday?
Ah back to calmer waters. I love my jumping and the two feature handicaps should provide us with some good betting opportunities. The Summer Handicap Hurdle is a listed race over an extended 2 miles. Red Tornado has to come into calculations for Dan Skelton given the outstanding form of his horses this summer. At 7/1 with Sky Bet he's one of the protagonists and won this race last year off just a 1lb higher mark. You get the feeling this has been the plan since his win last year and I hope he can put a couple of below par runs behind him in his bid for a repeat victory.
The Summer Plate is a Listed handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs and is equally as competitive. Alcala is one of just a few summer jumpers for Paul Nicholls and has been flying the Ditcheat flag to good effect this summer with a couple of wins at Newton Abbot. He's versatile and on the up and has a good chance of landing the hat-trick. There has been plenty of support for Poker School this week, he ran moderately last time out, but isn't too badly handicapped on the form he showed when winning a couple of decent novice chases in December. Hopefully his part owner won't be there to see him as Lee Westwood bids to win his first major at the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale!
I'dliketheoption is one of the horses that I Iike the look of. Jonjo O'Neill's six-year-old was a winner at this track last time out in May and is an honest horse that will enjoy the ground. He took a while to get his jumping sorted that day, but hopefully the step back up in trip will give him a bit more time to get fluent and his stable are in good form. Another that I'm interested in is the Harry Fry-trained Art Of Payroll. He has his first start for Fry having previously been with the now retired Sandra Hughes in Ireland. He won a beginners' chase at Down Royal on his final start for Hughes back at the beginning of May. It took him an age to get off the mark over fences as that was his 12th try, but he enjoys the decent summer ground and given his preferred conditions should put up a good show for his new handler.
He has some decent form in Ireland in the context of this race and it wasn't often he actually got his favoured decent ground so he could be one to watch if the worst of the rain stays away. He's 10/1 with Sky Bet.