Although we may complain about the quality and quantity of racing from time to time, you’d find it hard to crab what was an impeccable week of racing at the York Ebor Festival.
From Relief Rally to Warm Heart, Absurde to Mostahdaf, the four-day event on the Knavesmire truly delivered competitive action and great results.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 24, 2023
Yes, this week may not be vintage, but Saturdays like this are still decent betting products and they make the big weeks of Flat racing even better.
So, with that in mind, here are my ante-post plays for this coming weekend.
Bamby to Beverley
The Listed Beverley Bullet is one of the feature races of the weekend worth £25,000 to the winner.
Many of the 11 entries deserve respect – including York handicap winner Equilateral and last year’s victor Tis Marvellous – but it’s Rage Of Bamby at a general price of 14/1 that has grabbed my attention.
Eve Johnson-Houghton’s daughter of Wootton Bassett is one of the few unexposed types at the distance as she finished a good second last time out in a fillies handicap win by Designer at York on her first start at five furlongs.
— Steven Cargill (@Steven_Cargill) August 23, 2023
She sat in midfield for the majority of the contest before Charlie Bishop sent her to win the race up the far side rail, and although she hit the front with over a furlong to go, her well-handicapped rival collared her on the line.
The run was a bit surprising as for the majority of her career, she has been campaigned over longer trips, notably when second to Commissioning, a future Group 1 Fillies’ Mile winner, in the seven-furlong Group 2 Rockfel Stakes.
Commissioning remains unbeaten with a dominant success in the Group 2 @ABE_Dubai Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Rockfel Stakes, with the Kingman filly powering away under the guidance of Rab Havlin to score for John & Thady Gosden 🏆 pic.twitter.com/RZriZ4JhIa
— Newmarket Racecourse (@NewmarketRace) September 23, 2022
If you watch back that run and stop the replay two furlongs from home, she looks like the obvious winner, however, she didn’t quite see out the trip, so this season’s drop in distance has been beneficial.
Although her pedigree wouldn’t scream that five furlongs is her optimum trip, her damsire is Sakhee’s Secret who was a classy sprinter on his day, so there are glimmers to suggest the testing five-furlong course at Beverley could suit.
With the added bonus of a five-pound three-year-old fillies’ allowance against the older colts and geldings, she is officially the best at the weights and if she can reproduce her York run, she has a good chance to return back to the winners’ enclosure.
Beau on weather watch
It’s always difficult to know what the ground will be like days away from a raceday, however, a quick scan of the forecast predicts a washout day at Sandown on Thursday with potential spells of rain on Friday.
This rain-softened surface could play into the hands of Astral Beau in the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes, a general 9/1-shot.
Fresh from a 50-day break, the four-year-old by Brazen Beau has improved from winning a handicap off a mark of 81 as a three-year-old to performing in top-class Group-level races.
— Steven Cargill (@Steven_Cargill) October 29, 2022
If conditions do take a turn for the worst, her Listed Doncaster Mile Stakes victory at the start of the season puts her in a good place to handle it, yet if for any reason Sandown misses the incoming rain – which shouldn’t happen – then her third in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes on good-to-firm ground behind the Group 1-winning Prosperous Voyage also reads well.
As for her other two starts this season, she‘a been unlucky to run into several fillies who are at the top of the division.
Firstly, she finished third to Via Sistina in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes, a horse who has won the Group 1 Irish Oaks since, with Al Husn, a subsequent Group 1 Nassau Stakes winner, less than a length ahead of her in second.
Fast-forward to her last start in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes, she was a good fourth behind the progressive Isaac Shelby (2nd) and Nashwa (1st).
She's back with a bang! 💥
Nashwa cruises home in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes 🥇
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) July 14, 2023
Nashwa has since finished second to Mostahdaf in the Group 1 Juddmonte International on her latest outing, franking the form of that race.
Dropped in class for this weekend at the stiff one-mile Sandown course, Astral Beau looks a fair price at 9/1.
Can’t leave Midnight Mile
Despite the strong case made for Astral Beau, I think Midnight Mile at 6/1 could be a dangerous rival for the Richard Fahey team.
She performed with admiration in the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes over an extended 10.5 furlongs at Haydock last time out where she probably hit the front too soon and was soon overtaken by El Drama and Al Aasy, two good horses.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 12, 2023
Before that, the way she swept past her rivals in the Listed Lyric Stakes in July was impressive and she has good form behind Oaks winner Soul Sister from this season’s Musidora.
Returning to a stiff mile on soft ground should see the best out of her, so if you don’t mind backing two horses at each-way prices, both Midnight Mile and Astral Beau deserve respect.