Published 17:50 8/8
What the ideal composition of racing on Sundays in Britain should be is a discussion that the authorities have been reluctant to engage in to this point, but perhaps that will change post-pandemic.
If you want some reasonable stuff this Sunday, then you can turn to Salisbury, and perhaps to Thirsk. But if you want the really good stuff you are best looking further afield to Deauville in France and the Curragh in Ireland.
Racecourses in Britain can – or, rather, could – cram in the crowds on Sundays without much thought about the quality of the fare, while those betting from home continued to ask for more quality. That gives an indication of who wears the trousers in relationships concerning the fixture list.
I have no more than 2lb on my sectional figures between Space Blues, Hello Youmzain, Golden Horde, Lope Y Fernandez, Wichita (who has to cope with a drop in distance) and Earthlight in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (shown on Sky Sports Racing), and am only really confident that the last-named is too short in the betting in the circumstances.
With such strength in depth – two or three others are also within touching distance on figures – if something wins with authority then it should be worth getting excited about, at least.
The Group 1 at the Curragh, the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at 3:10, is almost as tight on ratings, and favourite Steel Bull not only needs to go further but run a bit better again than when taking an ordinary Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood recently.
While I will pass on those two races, the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh at 3:40 has tempted me in. Millisle deserves to be favourite but FOREVER IN DREAMS could cause a minor upset if returning to her best and appeals at a price.
That best is represented by placed efforts at Ascot in 2019 in the Commonwealth Cup and the British Champions Sprint, and it seems too soon to give up on her following one dud run (behind Millisle) at Naas last time. Before that, she was beaten a head by Speak In Colours in the Greenlands Stakes at this course and distance, and she is 5lb better off now.
Forever In Dreams helped make the running that day, but at not an especially strong pace, and was rallying strongly at the death. Others should lead the way now, and she is worth one more chance to return to her very best with ground conditions forecast to be up her alley.
Back in Britain, I have a trio of fancies, starting with ONE SMALL STEP off bottom weight in the Fillies’ Handicap at Salisbury (2:50). She overcame the drop in trip to 7f to win readily at Yarmouth last time, in a race in which the third has won a handicap since, but this return to 8f should suit her well. Before that, she got in amongst some useful types at Newmarket on what was her debut.
One Small Step may have to make her own running here, though that is unlikely to be a problem the way she performed at Yarmouth, and I am not convinced that any of her three rivals are entirely trustworthy.
The Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at 3:25 is the highlight at Salisbury and MARIE'S DIAMOND is taken to outrun his odds in a race in which he could get a solo in front. He won a Listed race easily at Newmarket in June when that occurred and came third to Circus Maximus in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot the next time.
His defeats at Ascot and Goodwood since are not so easy to explain, but this smaller field and rivals who are mostly held up gives him a chance to bounce back. Most of all, Marie’s Diamond’s odds look too big. Eight runners make for an each-way bet.
Value is all that matters at the end of the day, even though value is in the eye of the beholder, and that is why I am also recommending a small bet on ROYAL PROSPECT at big odds in the 6f handicap over at Thirsk (2:30).
Intrinsic Bond and Muscika have better claims on the face of it but are at a fraction of Royal Prospect’s odds. The selection won at this course and distance, as well as at Redcar, last summer and has now worked his way down to a mark lower than for the latter win.
He has been unplaced twice this year, but has gone as if not quite fit and showed quite a bit more at York last time. Trainer Julie Camacho has her string in good order and Royal Prospect is worth a stab in a race in which it is possible the leaders will tee it up for something coming from a little further back.
Other matters will have a claim on my time next week, so the next ATR Big-Race Preview is likely to be for the start of the York Ebor Meeting on Wednesday 19 August.
Simon's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
2:30 THIRSK, SUNDAY – WILLIAM HILL EXTRA PLACES EVERY DAY HANDICAP
0.5pt win ROYAL PROSPECT (25-1Betfred, BetVictor, Sky Bet, 22-1 bet365, William Hill)
2:50 SALISBURY, SUNDAY – AJN STEELSTOCK STEEL PROCESSORS BRITISH EBF FILLIES’ HANDICAP
1pt win ONE SMALL STEP (100-30 William Hill, 3-1 general)
3:25 SALISBURY, SUNDAY – AJN STEELSTOCK SOVEREIGN STAKES
0.5pt each-way MARIE’S DIAMOND (12-1 BetVictor, 11-1 general)
3:40 CURRAGH, SUNDAY – RATHASKER STUD PHOENIX SPRINT STAKES
0.5pt win FOREVER IN DREAMS (10-1)