HORSE RACING boff Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) has been in outstanding form in 2016. Here he picks his favourite Saturday and Sunday bets.
Ascot 15:05 | Saturday | Channel 4
A six furlong Group 3 that sees the return of top class juvenile Shalaa who comes back from injury and this is his prep for the big end of season sprint at Ascot.
He looks head and shoulders above these but is he opposable? I loved Shalaa last season and managed to make a few pounds on him last season.
He looked a sprinter from the start and at no point was he a Guineas horse and his target over the winter was the Commonwealth Cup. An injury seen him miss that and he makes his belated return here.
So is this the penalty kick the ratings suggest? Well to me no. He's obviously very good, but this is a big ask off a break and he is likely to need this.
I would expect John Gosden to use this as a prep for his targets later in the year and I don't think victory is essential for Shalaa here. He may win, but I expect him to improve for whatever he does here and I'm against him but only just.
The one I have to back here is the Richard Fahey trained Don't Touch. He is still improving and the ground here should be ideal. In my opinion he is the second best horse in the race and if Shalaa wasn't running he'd be a confident selection. I plan to back him each way here and I think he will be the likely benefactor if Shalaa isn't 100%.
Chantilly 15:05 |Prix de L'Arc de Triumph | Sunday | Sky Sports
The Prix de L'Arc de Triumph is without doubt the highlight of the European flat season and as ever this is a top class race. It's unfortunately missing a couple of the leading fancies however this will take some winning and I cannot wait to watch it.
Postponed will start favourite and for the last 18 months he has been flawless. Three Group 1 wins this year (all in fine style) and he's beaten a lot of these in the process make him the one to beat and I wouldn't put anyone off him.
He's now a little short in the betting and in a race this good I'm prepared to take him on, but mainly because of his price, he's probably the most likely winner.
Makahiki is second in the betting and he bids to win a race that Japan is desperate to win. You always have to respect the Japanese horses and he's obviously a high class horse however he is short in the betting on the basis of his European form.
I hope he runs well but again I'm against him. Aidan O'Brien sends over three and of the three Order of St George appeals the most. Found ran poorly in this race last season and though she is top class I think this is perhaps the wrong race for her.
Highland Reel is another star but this is perhaps beyond him too. Order of St George with Dettori on board could well run in to a place and I wouldn't put anyone off backing him each way especially if you can find four places.
To me I'm torn between two French horses. New Bay, who was third here last year and the three year old filly Left Hand. New Bay placed in a stronger race than this last season and has been aimed at this since then. He was fourth in the Irish Champion Stakes and anyone who thinks he won't run better than that here needs their head examined.
This is the race his trainer target all year and at the odds he's an each way price. I'm having a small bet on him. I looked for ages and decided to back two vs the field here.
Left Hand has to improve to win this, ok she has to improve to get within 10 lengths of these however I suspect she might well. Three year old fillies are well weighted in this and she won a Group 1 over course and distance last time out. She's more of a speculative selection but I'm going to have a small each way bet on her.
15:05 Ascot – Don't Touch each way (7/1 Betfred)
15: 05 Chantilly (Sunday) – New Bay each way (12/1 William Hill)
15: 05 Chantilly (Sunday) – Left Hand each way (22/1 William Hill)