1.45: Listed Doncaster Stakes
The first live race of the day on ITV4 comes from Doncaster and it is the 6 furlong Listed Doncaster Stakes for 2yos. San Donato is the current market leader at 11/4 for Varian and Atzeni after a couple of wins in novice company. The son of Lope De Vega hosed up under a penalty on the all-weather at Kempton (6f) last time and he is proven on good to soft ground. I am not sure how strong the form of his last win is though and I think better value can be found elsewhere.
At a bigger price Kodyanna could go well for Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan. This 93 rated daughter of Kodiac ran a cracker when third in the Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar three weeks ago and both Caballero and Vintage Brut have franked the form in no uncertain terms since. She wasn’t beaten far in a Group 3 at Deauville three runs back, she handles an ease and at odds of 16/1 Kodyanna is the each way pick in what looks an open race.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: KODYANNA E/W @ 16/1
2.00 Cheltenham: Matchbook Exchange Handicap Chase
The first big handicap chase of the season at Cheltenham looks a cracking contest and 17 horses will go to post for this 25f race. Plenty of them are returning from summer breaks so it isn’t the easiest race to read, but one horse who will have no worries on the fitness front is the Martin Pipe trained Dell’ Arca. This 9yo son of Sholokhov ran a mighty race when last sighted at Listowel in the Kerry National, belying his odds of 20/1 to grab 4th (24f sft).
He won’t mind the return to good ground here and he ran a lovely race to be 4th in a handicap hurdle at this meeting last season (24f). He has won here before at two miles over hurdles and he has plenty of placed efforts at Cheltenham too so he handles the track well. He races off 142, a mark he managed to win off over timber and at odds of 16/1 he is the each way selection. 6 places e/w available with William Hill.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: DELL’ ARCA E/W @ 16/1 6 PLACES
2.20 Newbury: Group 3 Royal British Legion Stakes
Eleven horses will go to post for this 12f Group 3 contest and Young Rascal looks sure to go off as favourite. The son of Intello bounced back from his Derby flop at Epsom when beating Mirage Dancer over 11f here on soft last time. He also has a win over Dee Ex Bee in the book so in the context of this race his form looks rock solid. The good to soft ground should pose no problems and at 7/4 he looks the most likely winner.
At an absolutely massive price I do think Maifalki is worth a second look for each way players. His win at Haydock on ground plenty quick enough has worked out well with the 2nd and 3rd from that race (who he conceded 4lb to) now rated 9lb and 15lb higher
respectively. He won a Listed race in France last time and while he has it to do at the figures I don’t think he should be 50/1 and at that price he could be worth a small e/w interest.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: YOUNG RASCAL WIN @ 7/4; MAIFALKI E/W 50/1
2.35 Cheltenham: Class 2 Masterson Holdings Hurdle
This is a fascinating little race even though only six horses will go to post and three of the field will be having their first runs of the season. Fitness will have to be taken on trust with the two market leaders Redicean and Gumball and they both have to prove that the Cheltenham hill suits them. At just 11/8 and 11/4 respectively I think they are too short and I think Pearl Of The West could give them something to think about.
John McConnell’s daughter of Teofilo will be as fit as a fiddle and she will be ridden by top jockey Sean Bowen. I was very impressed by the manner of her win at Bellewstown two starts back when she made all and hosed up by 10L. I think she could be dangerous again if similar tactics are employed here and in receipt of 7lb from her rivals I think she could be worth a small interest each way.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: PEARL OF THE WEST E/W @ 20/1
2.50 Newbury: Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes
The Horris Hill is a 7f Group 3 contest for juveniles and the hype horse in this race is Chairmanoftheboard. This son of Slade Power absolutely demolished the opposition by 8L on his debut at Goodwood (6f soft). What made the performance even more impressive was the fact that afterwards his trainer Mick Channon stated that he will be better on good ground. If that is true Chairmanoftheboard will be hard to beat and he looks a worthy 5/2 favourite.
For each way players I think Athmad is worth giving another chance to back at the scene of his debut win. He bolted up that day by 2.5L and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th have all come out of that race and won since. I don’t think he gave his true running last time at Doncaster and returned to Newbury he could outrun his odds of 14/1 with top class pilot Gerald Mosse taking over in the plate.
STEVOS’ SELECTIONS: CHAIRMANOFTHEBOARD WIN @ 5/2; ATHMAD E/W @ 14/1
3.10 Cheltenham: Randox Health Handicap Chase
Only 7 horses will go to post in this 16f handicap chase and it is a disappointing turnout for a race worth £60,000. Tommy Silver looks an interesting contender back at the minimum trip off a mark of 136, particularly on good ground. I fancied this fella to run a big race in the Grand Annual last season but soft ground meant he swerved it for Aintree.
Ironically, it ended up being soft at Aintree too and then good to soft on his next start at Warwick. When he finally got a bit of decent ground it was over 20f at Uttoxeter and he never figured. Tommy Silver has a decent record when fresh and I think 16f at Cheltenham on good ground is really going to suit. On his hurdles form he looks very well treated off 136 and at odds of 7/1 a small win bet is advised.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: TOMMY SILVER WIN @ 7/1 NB
3.25 Doncaster: Class 2 Handicap
22 horses line up in this very tricky looking 5f handicap and on good to soft ground I think Holmeswood looks well overpriced for Michael Dods and Callum Rodriguez. He was slightly hampered at the start on his last outing when well beaten at York (5f gd) but he is better than that and he ran a much nicer race on his penultimate start when beaten half a length off 89 at Ascot (5f sft).
This 4yo son of Mayson likes a little bit of juice in the ground and he has placed form in the book at Doncaster. Callum Rodriguez was on board for his last win at York off 92 and he is now a pound lower off 91. The last two winners of this race have been drawn high, but in 2014 and 2015 the winners came from stalls 4 and 6 so it isn’t impossible to win from a low draw. At odds of 16/1 I think Holmeswood is capable of running a big race for each way players with an extra place available with some bookies.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: HOLMESWOOD E/W @ 16/1 5 PLACES
3.45 Cheltenham: Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
My each way NAP of the day goes in this 25f handicap hurdle and it is last year’s runner up, Milrow. I was very sweet on him last season for this race, putting him up at 66/1, and he ran a blinder behind Thomas Campbell. I still think he was unlucky not to win that day as he met interference at a crucial moment and lost a lot of momentum.
I think this race has likely been his target ever since that excellent effort and he has had only a couple of outings since. The first of those came on his seasonal comeback in a flat 12f novice at Leicester and he fell last time when beaten at Fontwell over a trip that is too short. I think those two runs were purely to get him ready for this race and the booking of Paddy Brennan catches the eye. Off just 3lb higher than last year he is my e/w NAP of the day at 40/1 with 5 places e/w available.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: MILROW E/W @ 40/1 5 PLACES NAP
4.05 Doncaster: Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy
The final live ITV race of the day is the 8f Group 1 formerly known as the Racing Post Trophy. Last year Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion gave us a taste of what was to come in 2018 by fighting out a thrilling finish and it would be great if this year’s renewal was even half as exciting. Aidan O’Brien had a heap of entries but runs just three and it looks like his best chance is the current favourite Magna Grecia, the mount of Donnacha O’Brien.
However, I think odds of 13/8 are way too short for Magna Grecia and at a much bigger price King Ottokar could run a big race for Charlie Fellowes and Ben Curtis. His sire Motivator won this back in 2004 and he impressed me when winning narrowly on debut on soft at Newbury over 7f. The form of that race has worked out very well with the 5th and 6th winning next time out and once the ground doesn’t dry out too much I think King Ottokar could go well at odds of 20/1.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: KING OTTOKAR E/W @ 20/1