Usually a punter-friendly race, the last shock winner, if you could call it that, of the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes (3.25 Newbury) was Lord Shanakill at 10/1 back in 2008.
I know things can and do change in racing, but I’ve had reasonable success in this contest when sticking near the short end of the market – and I must admit that I’m finding it hard to separate Rhythm Master and Bahrain Pride, which are trading at 11/4 and 4/1 respectively at the time of writing, behind likely favourite Fivethousandtoone (9/4).
Third in the Prix Morny at Deauville last time out, Rhythm Master sets the standard, and that win came on the back of a successful debut at Haydock.
Richard Fahy’s colt is almost certain to progress – but I’ve also been impressed with two wins from two starts from Bahrain Pride, the latest in a Listed contest at Ripon, and Simon & Ed Crisford’s colt narrowly gets the nod on potential.
It’s always hard to judge potential in two-year-olds which have only raced once or twice, but he took control of the race under James Doyle and went down in my notebook as one that should be able to step up in grade.
Earlier, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Equilateral around 5/2 in the Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (1.40) for Charlie Hills under Hollie Doyle.
This is a step down in class for the gelding, which was runner-up to stablemate Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes, a nice piece of form, and while you could say he’s underperformed in three races since, he’s met trouble in-running so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Another one I’ll back at Newbury today is Mark Johnston’s Elarqam, which trades around 9/4 in the four-runner Group Three Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Stakes (2.50).
At Ayr, I’m keen on Umm Kulthum at 2/1 for the Group Three Firth Of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes (3.05). A winner on her debut at Thirsk, one of the standout pieces of form here is her third place in the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York.
She missed the break and raced a little green, but definitely showed promise and should be very hard to beat dropped down in class.
For something at a bigger price, consider Stone Of Destiny (e/w), which trades around 8/1 for the QTS Ayr Gold Cup Handicap (3.40).
Due to go up in the ratings, Andrew Balding’s gelding is among a number of entries here that raced within the last week and carry a penalty, but the selection’s victory in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster last Saturday showed he’s still got plenty to offer.
Finally, I’d like to mention how saddened I was to hear of the untimely death of Pat Smullen. He was only a couple of years older than me so I’ve grown up watching him, and particularly liked backing him now and again at my local track, Leopardstown.
Then there was Galway, where Smullen and Weld became as good as an ATM for us punters. He had a great racing brain and was immensely talented – but that’s just the racing side to Smullen from a punter’s point of view. By all accounts, he was a fantastic person outside of the sport too.
I can’t say I knew him well personally, but any time I encountered him while out racing, he was always respectful and knowledgeable, and the outpouring of emotion from his weigh-room colleagues says it all.
It’s cruel on his family he was taken so young, but they can be immensely proud of a wonderful man, and I hope they find comfort in the many great moments of joy he created, on the track and off. May he rest in peace.