As the chilly week draws to a close, horse racing fans across the length and breadth of the country will be gearing up for another bumper action-packed weekend.
It’s looking like a good weekend for the sport of kings, with 11 races scheduled between Friday and Sunday. There’s an even split of meetings too, with six flat races set to take place and a further five being over the hurdles.
Here, we’ve picked out the best of the action, looking at which key runners are worth keeping your eye on…
Newbury – Friday, 26th October
We start on Friday with a sprint meeting at Newbury, which will host eight flat races over the course of the autumn afternoon.
The pick of these is the Class 2 British European Breeders’ Fund Conditions Stakes, which will see eight runners contend for the cool prize of £32,345.
The early favourite here is the 13/8 shot Aspetar, who has been superbly trained by Roger Charlton. This three-year old horse won his first two races in April and May this year, including a Windsor maiden and an impressive run at Goodwood. He also placed third at Ayr last time out and while he came last in a French Group 2 outing back in June, he was by no means disgraced.
We’re expecting some impressive progress this time out – he’s certainly the runner to beat in this particular field.
The three-year old gelding Outbox is also expected to perform well here, with trainer Simon Crisford having produced a top contender. Priced at around 10/3 at present, he has been exceptionally impressive in winning both of his starts to date and certainly represents an excellent each-way bet here.
The only issue is that he’s upping his distance marginally this time around, so we’ll have to see this could impact on his performance.
Doncaster – Saturday, 27th October
Saturday will see another superb flat race meeting at Doncaster, as the Yorkshire venue hosts The Vertem Futurity Trophy and the final Group 1 race of the season.
This event is known to attract the best two-year olds in the country, with last year’s iteration produced a thrilling contest between Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion and seeing Aidan O’Brien secure his record 26th Group 1 win.
Eleven runners will compete for this years’ Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, with the winner primed to walk away with a cheque for £131,000.
At first glance, we like the look of the 5/4 shot Magna Grecia here, with this horse having impressed in both of his outings so far. This included a second place finish at Newmarket two weeks ago and a maiden victory at Naas in September. With him having been trained by Aidan O’Brien, we expect him to last the course here.
This runner is not without competition, however, with John Gosden’s colt Turgenev priced at around 7/2 and more than capable of competing here. He’ll certainly enter the race in exceptional form, having won consecutive race and Newcastle and Newmarket in September and October respectively.
He also placed second on his debut at Doncaster five weeks ago, so he knows the terrain well and will fancy his chances of prevailing here.
If you’re looking for more of an outside bet, keep your eyes peeled for the 5/1 shot Pheonix of Spain. Trained by Charles Hills, this colt placed second at Doncaster in his last outing, after two consecutive victories at Wolverhampton and York during the summer.
He definitely has the pedigree to win here and should offer good value as both an each-way and a straight bet.
Aintree – Sunday 28th October
While there’s only two main meetings on Sunday, race-goers can still look forward to the long-awaited Countryside Day at Aintree.
This will host seven jump races during the course of the afternoon, including one Group 2 event in the form of Monet’s Garden Old Roan Limited Handicap.
A total of 15 runners will compete here, with a total prize fund in excess of £70,000 on offer to trainers.
The field here is quite evenly matched, although Theo stands out to us as a potential winner. This eight-year old gelding, who has been trained by the seasoned Dr. Newland, earned rave reviews with five consecutive wins over the hurdles in the second half for 2017 and has also won his last two outings at Worcester.
Another likely contender is the Peter Bowen-trained Beggar’s Wishes. This seven-year old horse won his last three steeplechase outings, including a fantastic victory at Newton Abbot last time out in extremely similar conditions to those that will be on offer at Aintree.