OUR resident racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from Saturday’s cards.
15:10 Ascot | Channel 4
The QEII is the top all-age mile race of the season and as ever this is a very good renewal. Group winners galore line-up and whoever wins this can lay claim to be Europe’s champion miler.
Minding (2/1 Betfred) has had an incredible career and has won Group 1 races from seven furlongs to a mile and-a-half and is one of the best fillies of our generation. She has lined up in six Group 1 races this year winning four and placing twice and is remarkably consistent.
However, this is possibly too short for her now and she has had a very hard season so I’m against her here.
Galileo Gold (6/1 Ladbrokes) won the 2000 Guineas in May, has a been the star of Hugo Palmers yard and is arguably the horse to beat here. Up until his flop in France last time he’d been remarkably consistent however there are reasons for taking him on here.
The Guineas was a strange race and his victory in the St James Palace Stakes was mainly due to a vintage ride by Frankie Dettori. I think his rivals may have more scope and I like his old rival here.
Ribchester (11/4 Betfred) took three attempts to beat Galileo Gold but he did it last time out and he now looks like the top three year-old miler around. He enjoys cut in the ground, is improving with every start and is now a genuine top class colt.
He won a good renewal of the Jersey Stakes and was a nose behind Galileo Gold in the Sussex Stakes. He showed how progressive he is when breaking his Group 1 duck last time and I think he will take this race and hopefully stay in training as he looks to have his best days in front of him.
15:45 Ascot | Channel 4
The Champion Stakes is the highlight of the meeting and this is a very good renewal.
Let’s start with Found. What a mare she is – a multiple Group 1 winner, she has been successful at the top level in America, Ireland and France and bids to add England to her incredible CV. She is at her best at this time of the year and arrives on the back of her finest moment when winning the Arc last time.
She’s better off with Almanzor today however I am not looking to back her. Last year Found raced in the Arc but she met trouble and didn’t have a hard time. To reverse Irish Champion Stakes form against a fresh rival would be one of the performances of all-time and I’m against her today.
Fascinating Rock (15/2 Paddy Power) won this race last season and is a live threat here. He has been aimed at this all season and is capable of completing the double however this is a different test.
He needs softer ground to be at his best and despite being fresher than a couple of his rivals here he’s likely to be playing for a place at best today.
There are no shortage of high-class horses but Almanzor ticks so many boxes here that it’s almost impossible to oppose him.
He won the French Derby in June where he looked a good horse however last month he won what was one of the highest quality races of my lifetime in Ireland and now looks a top-class colt.
Almanzor travelled effortlessly through the race and when asked to quicken he made high-class horses look ordinary. He was value for more than the winning margin and missed the Arc in favour of this.
I make him a confident selection here and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t add this to his roll of honour.