We saw some superb action from the horse racing last weekend, particularly during the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket. In a shocking twist, the precocious Pretty Pollyanna only finished fourth, despite setting off as the favourite for the Cheveley Park Stakes.
This action-packed weekend looks set to continue this trend of high octane racing, with 11 meetings scheduled to take place across the nation, including the Autumn Racing Weekend at Ascot.
Here, we’ll look at where you should watch the horse racing this weekend and ask which runners could take the prize…
Ascot – Friday, 5th October
We start at Ascot on Friday, which just so happens to be Beer Festival Day. There are six superb flat races scheduled for the afternoon and if you can tear yourself away from the bar, this should make for a bumper day of racing.
The pick of these races is the Class 1 Londonmetric Noel Murless Stakes, which will be contested over a distance of 1 mile and 6 furlongs. A total of eight runners are expected to compete here, with a cheque for £36,862 available to the lucky winner.
The early favourite here is Charlie Appleby’s Ghostwatch. This three-year old horse landed the valuable Melrose handicap at York back in August, before securing a second place finish at Ascot last month. In truth, he’s long overdue the chance to perform at Listed level and a win here could propel him into the stratosphere.
Sir Michael Stoute’s three-year old Mekong is another horse to keep your eye on, despite the fact that he finished one-and-three-quarter lengths behind Ghostwatch in the Melrose at York. However, he seemed to have recovered from this disappointment by his next outing, winning a heavy ground, 1 metre and 6 furlong handicap at Haydock by a total of seven lengths.
He’s a key contender here and could well turn the tables on his rival in what looks to be a keenly-contested race.
Ascot – Saturday, 6th October
We’re going to stay at Ascot on Saturday, where a further six races will take place over the flat. This number includes three Class I events, with the John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes a clear standout.
This Group 3 sprint will cover six furlongs and eight extremely talented runners, each competing for a first prize of £39,697.
Marco Botti’s three-year old filly Raven’s Lady will undoubtedly be one of the front-runners here and she’ll certainly arrive at Ascot in outstanding form. She has been victorious in both of her last two outings, romping at home at York and Baden-Baden in July and August respectively.
She also placed second in a competitive field of 12 at Haydock in May, and has a tendency to thrive over shorter sprint distances. The only issue here is that she’ll carry a 5lb penalty following her latest triumph, and this could offer a competitive advantage to her rivals.
We also like the look of Gifted Master, who is trained by Hugo Palmer and has collected over £700,000 in prize money to date. This five-year old horse has also won 11 times in an illustrious career, including a superb victory at the highly competitive Stewards Cup at Goodwood in August.
He’s priced at around 11/2 at present, and definitely offers value as an each-way bet at the very least.
The 4/1 shot Projection is also in contention here, with his recent fifth place finish in the Group One Diamond Jubilee highlighting his pedigree. Although it has yet to be seen if he can win at this level, he’s expected to do well here and challenge the favourites.
Kelso – Sunday, 7th October
We finish with a jump meeting at Kelso on Sunday, which will host seven high quality races over the hurdles in the most idyllic of settings.
The pick of these is the NSPCC School Service Handicap Chase, which is a Class II race that will unfold over 2 miles and 1 furlong. A total of 11 runners will compete for a first prize of £24,760, and there’s a number of contenders in line for this cheque.
The initial favourite is Dr. Richard Newland’s seven-year old gelding Vosne Romanee, who will enter the race after winning his last two steeplechase outings. These were won over a similar distance at Stratford in July, and he definitely boasts the pedigree and experience to prevail here.
A serious threat is posed by Jonjo O’Neill’s Champagne at Tara, who has also emerged victorious from her last two races. The nine-year old horse won impressively at Aintree and Uttoxeter in June and July over the hurdles, and she’s more than capable of adding to this tally here.