Published 15:25 7/8
I am somewhere in between – an unpopular stance on most things these days – as the Shergar Cup acts as a gateway to the stronger stuff that exists elsewhere in the racing firmament and seems an acceptable price for the aficionado to pay once a year.
Anyway, this Saturday sees Ascot racing without any gimmicks, and without a crowd having the temerity to enjoy itself, and it is duller for it. All but one of the eight races are handicaps, and we do not even have the joy of trying to figure out whether or not the jockeys are any good.
He is a reasonably treated gelding, rounding back into form, and from a stable – David Menuisier’s – that continues to be under-rated more widely. Kaloor has never tried this far, but his breeding and the way he shaped last time offers plenty of encouragement that he will stay it and may even be suited by it.
Kaloor’s last run came at 14f at Sandown, on what was just his third start since leaving Brian Meehan, and he finished strongly in it despite getting hampered when first making his move.
The form is nothing out of the ordinary, but Kaloor did have next-time winner Hochfeld just behind him that day.
He gets to go off the same mark here and has a good chance. Australis does, also, but that one is at a fraction of Kaloor’s odds and has been thriving on all-weather recently. All in all, Kaloor looks worth backing at 4-1 or bigger.
Another worth siding with at Ascot is FOX VARDY in the Thames Hospice Handicap at 3:35. He could be strongly fancied on the form of his runaway win at Newmarket two starts ago (up just 9 lb for a 14-length victory), but slightly less so on his defeat off this mark at York last time.
Then again, Fox Vardy was beaten only two necks in the latter after doing plenty of running close up, and probably deserves a bit of extra credit. The likelihood is that he will be ridden slightly more conservatively on this stiffer track with good apprentice Cieren Fallon taking over.
But I make Fox Vardy’s last two timefigures fairly useful, once conditions are allowed for, and will be disappointed if he is not there or thereabouts. Again, 4-1 or bigger would be acceptable.
The main races at Haydock – the listed race at 2:05and the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at 2:40, both sponsored by BetVictor – make limited appeal, but I like the look of the Betway Sweet Solera Stakes over at Newmarket at 3:20.
For a start, this is a good each-way race, with nine runners, a shortish-priced favourite and only four or five that can be seriously fancied. Then, there is quite a bit of potential rather than achievement about three of those.
Fly Miss Helen looked mighty promising when running down Sarsaparilla at Newbury on her only start, but the runner-up (who went fast that day) has been comfortably beaten again since. Spirit of Bermuda has won her only start at Goodwood, too, but it was in a blanker finish and in an ordinary time.
By contrast, SETARHE has already finished second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and third in a listed race at Sandown. She was just behindDubai Fountain in the latter, but did more running late on against a slight pace bias, and yet can be backed at a bigger price.
The main cause for concern with Setarhe is that she has looked a slightly difficult ride, but she is learning on the game and did not duck the issue when the chips were down last time. Odds bigger than 4-1 would make her a solid each-way bet.
Simon's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
3:00 ASCOT – DDF MILLENNIUM MILLIONAIRE HANDICAP1 pt win KALOOR (5-1 bet365, BetVictor, Betfred, Ladbrokes, William Hill)
3:20 NEWMARKET – BETWAY SWEET SOLERA STAKES
1 pt each-way SETARHE (11-2 Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred, BetVictor, Paddy Power, 5-1 general)
3:35 ASCOT – THAMES HOSPICE HANDICAP
1 pt win FOX VARDY (7-1 BetVictor, Coral, 13-2 bet365, Betfred, Ladbrokes, William Hill)