IT’S worth bearing in mind when getting involved with ante-post betting, even if it’s just a week in advance, that plenty can change in such a short space of time, and a year ago the Stewards’ Cup was run on heavy ground when most would have predicted a sound surface a day or two earlier.
That’s a painful memory for me, having gone in heavily on Justanotherbottle, who was sunk without in the conditions, only to positively bolt up in the Great St Wilfrid on quick ground just a fortnight later. Such are the pitfalls, and they need to be borne in mind.
Sussex Stakes, Wednesday
Baaeed ought to win the Sussex Stakes, and with only nine horses entered at the time of writing, most firms are betting two places.
There are several, including 888Sport and BetVictor, offering standard each-way terms, and that means at Alcohol Free needs to be backed each-way.
Last year’s winner belatedly got back to her best when winning the July Cup last time, and it’s doubtful if even Baaeed could manage that. The nature of the track here suits her ideally, and it’s wonderful to see an owner as sporting as Jeff Smith who is happy to let her attempt what is a rare double.
The last horse to win the Sussex and July Cup in the same season was Smith’s first good horse, the inimitable Chief Singer, so for him to repeat the feat almost 40 years later would be just the kind of story racing needs, but it’s not a case of heart ruling head with Alcohol Free.
She’s value even with just two places even in a race with seven runners.
Stewards Cup, Saturday
What better race to start with, then, than the Stewards’ Cup itself, in which Justanotherbottle is again entered, and he remains of some interest, albeit 13lb higher than when my money was on at 66/1 last year.
His appeal fades somewhat in those circumstances, but one who is definitely handicapped to win is another old favourite in the shape of Summerghand, who got us the place money in the Wokingham while shaping better than the bare result in fifth behind Rohaan.
He was looking for the same gaps as the winner and was just beaten to the punch, and I thought it was notable that James Doyle gave him no more than a hand ride in the final furlong when most riders would have got more animated.
Summerghand is 1lb lower than he was at Royal Ascot, and has hinted at a return to his best on his last two starts, so must be of interest in a race he won off top weight two years ago. He is number 24 in the list now, and 8lb below that winning mark, while he’s shown even better form since. He tends to come to hand in mid-summer, and his record outside of group company in July and August in the past five years reads 12131342112015.
The only blip in that line of form figures is his unplaced effort in the mud in this race last year, which is eminently forgivable, as the track resembled the Somme. He proved that form wrong by winning a listed race on his next start, and a repeat of that would make him hard to beat with any luck.
The draw is obviously important, but he won the race in 2020 from stall 17 of 27, while the second and third-placed horses came from stall one and stall 28, so he’s not reliant on others to drag him into the race.
Blue For You
Golden Mile, Friday
At a general 25/1 the ex-Dermot Weld inmate Blue For You makes lots of appeal in the Coral Golden Mile Handicap on Friday. A Galway maiden winner on soft ground as a juvenile, he has since shown himself better suited by top-of-the-ground conditions, and won a Leopardstown handicap a year ago wearing a first-time visor.
Blue For You was disappointing either side of that win, and joined David O’Meara before the start of the current season. He went without headgear on his return, and shaped as if needing the run, but has run with credit when placed on both starts since at Sandown and York, catching the eye when second to Eilean Dubh at the latter track. He finished with a flourish to be beaten half a length by that progressive rival, who was gaining his fourth win of the season. The visor was refitted for that run, and I would expect it to be in place again.
Blue For You looked better than ever at York, that race appealing as strong form, and he will be 3lb better off with the winner should they meet again.
On that basis, he shouldn’t be a bigger price, and while both need a few to come out to be guaranteed of a run on Friday, that should never be an excuse for not betting ante-post, with stakes returned in the event of being balloted out of the contest.