NEWMARKET is the focus on Saturday for some top-class racing. Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his best bets.
14:35 Newmarket | Channel 4
The Vision Autumn Stakes is a one mile Group 3 for two year olds. There are no real superstars lining up but it looks worthy of its Group status and is an intriguing race.
Ibn Malik is the favourite for the race and if he wins here it would pay an enormous compliment to Emotionless (running in the next race) who made him look like a poor handicapper in the Champagne Stakes last time out.
We’ll start by looking at last week’s big sales winner Gifted Master, who since he was gelded is two from two. Last week he was a very impressive winner, but it was a strange race where he was allowed to dominate from the off and I have a feeling he was slightly flattered there. He is a promising young horse, but I think he’s out of his depth here.
Ibn Malik was runner up in a Goodwood Group 2 before filling the same position in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last time out behind Emotionless. As a dual runner up at Group 2 level you have to fear him, but I’m not a huge fan.
Both races were weak and the Goodwood Group 2 was a real muddling affair. Though Emotionless could be top class, he was brushed aside effortlessly, and unless we have another Frankel on our hands I get the feeling Ibn Malik is a Listed horse at best. I hope I’m wrong but I think he will fall short here again.
Beacon Rock comes from the all conquering Ballydoyle yard but I’m not convinced he’s one of the leading lights there. Last time out he was third in the Beresford stakes, and though that’s good form I’m not sure it was a vintage renewal of that race and at 5/2 I’m happy to oppose him.
I’m going to take a chance on one here and my selection will be Clear Cut from the Jim Bolger yard. He’s had one start when he was sent off favourite for a six furlong Fairyhouse maiden where he was beaten by a short head. Both he and the winner were making their debuts and they pulled well clear of the field. I watched that race and Clear Cut looked inexperienced and a like a horse who would leave his debut behind him.
Though on breeding it’s hard to tell what his optimum trip will be, the way he ran on debut makes me think he’ll relish the extra distance here. He was entered in all of the end of season Group 1 races and in a stable with their fair share of talented juveniles you have to take note of anything they send to these shores. I think this is a slightly below par Group 2 and he may well have the scope to improve past these. I see him as great value at 10/1 to take this.
15:10 Newmarket | Channel 4
The Dewhurst is in my opinion the main two year old race of the season and this is one of the most anticipated renewals of recent times. I’m going to look at this from a win point of view and there are only two to consider. Emotionless and Air Force Blue look like two of the best juveniles we have had for a few years and this is shaping up to be a duel to remember. But who wins?
During the week Emotionless has been heavily backed and the vibes from the Charlie Appleby yard is that he is pretty special. He has raced twice in his short career and has impressed on both occasions.
Last time out he beat Ibn Malik effortlessly in a performance that rather had to be seen to be believed. He travelled on the bridle for the entire contest and barely had to break sweat to beat a horse who was previously runner up in a Group 2.
He is clearly a colt that is above average, but how good is he? Do you want to take 5/4 about a horse who has not had to do anything off the bridle or has met a rival with proven Group 1 form? Normally I’d say no but Emotionless literally could be anything. In a normal Dewhurst I would back him, but he’s coming up against a dual Group 1 winner who has improved with every start and still looks on the upgrade to me.
Air Force Blue from the Aidan O’Brien yard has two victories at the top level to his name already, and after a defeat in the Coventry Stakes (which can be forgiven) has shown himself to be the top juvenile around. Other than his defeat at Royal Ascot (his second career start and he has since reversed the form) he has won his three starts and has looked incredibly progressive.
Though he looks like a real good ground horse he handles a bit of cut so conditions here look ideal. He’s a Group 1 winner over six furlongs so he’s not short of pace meaning Emotionless isn’t going to get to cruise through this on the bridle. It could be that Emotionless is a freak and we have an odds on favourite for the 2000 Guineas by Saturday evening, but realistically we have a dual Group 1 winner up against a horse that has achieved far less, I’ll happily take the 5/4 about Air Force Blue in this.
14:35 Newmarket – Clear Cut to win (10/1 Ladbrokes)
15:10 Newmarket – Air Force Blue to win (5/4 Paddy Power)
Bet 365 promise to be best price on any horse running in a live Channel 4 race on Saturday. Decent that!