Malcolm Heyhoe's Top Tips for August's UK Horse Racing
If Wimbledon in June means strawberries and cream, then racing in August can only signify Goodwood and York, two flagship festival meetings that dominate the month’s action beginning with five exciting days on the Sussex slopes.
As popular as ever, Glorious Goodwood offers some top-class action and is often a meeting that puts profits in punters’ pockets. The Gordon Stakes on the fixture’s opening day, August 1, has long been recognized as a traditional for the St Leger later next month, and the message here is a clear one: pay particular heed to whatever Sir Michael Stoute runs in the mile and half contest. This year’s Stoute representative may well be one of the yard’s better three-year-olds.
The Group 1 Sussex Stakes on August 2 hosts the meeting’s customary clash between the milers of the different generations and trainer Jeremy Noseda holds strong prospects of following up last year’s success with Proclamation when he sends out Araafa, his easy winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. A good run at the Royal meeting is the usual stepping-stone to Sussex success and Araafa is likely to be very hard to beat.
Thursday’s action on August 3 sees the stayers take centre stage in the Goodwood Cup and local trainer Amanda Perrett will be hoping that her smart older horse Tungsten Strike can build on several useful efforts this season. Sadly last year’s winner Distinction has been forced to miss this race through injury and the chances are that in a poor year for stayers, the pattern contest won’t take that much winning. Watch out too for whatever trainer Mark Johnston decides to run; five winners in the past ten years has earned him outstanding record in this two-mile contest.
On the same day as the Goodwood Cup, the speedy juveniles can ply their trade in the five-furlong Molecomb Stakes and the one to watch here is the dual Windsor Castle and Super Sprint hero, the decidedly zippy Elhamri, who will surely take some catching as he blazes a trail on the Sussex Downs.
Friday’s action on August 4 brings the season’s leading mile handicappers into view with yet another highly competitive running of the Totesport Mile. A high draw is vital to any chance of success and whatever you do here, it is best not to bet until the overnight declarations have been made and the draw is known.
The ultra-progressive Sir Gerard heads the market and holds strong claims while Easy Air, who finished just behind the former in a classy renewal of Royal Ascot’s Britannia Stakes, is another who should go well on the rolling downland course where finishing speed is always a key asset in determining the week’s handicap winners.
Friday’s Richmond Stakes is one of the week’s pivotal juvenile events and backers need look no further than Paul Cole’s impressive Newmarket winner Strategic Prince, if he takes his chance while the Oak Tree Stakes on the same day sees Red Evie and Makderah lock horns once again after finishing first and third in a similar event at the Royal meeting.
Goodwood’s final day on August 5 puts the fillies in the spotlight courtesy of the Group1 Nassau Stakes, and this time around the older fillies may well call the tune with Ouija Board, Red Bloom and last year’s easy winner, Alexander Goldrun, all set to do battle. Predicting the outcome won’t be easy but if the former turns up in the form she showed to land a Group1 at Royal Ascot then she’ll prove difficult to beat.
Gift Horse was a last-gasp winner of the Stewards’ Cup twelve months ago and one year on it could again pay to look at horses that have run well in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot and pursuing that line of thought brings Firenze, Borderlescott and Intrepid Jack into the picture and it would be no surprise to see the winner emerge from that illustrious trio. The former has been on fire this season and has developed into a much-improved and formidable opponent in sprint handicaps.
The end of Glorious Goodwood signals a lull in proceedings before the three day Ebor festival kicks in at York later in the month, and many serious racing fans take a break between Goodwood and York. On August 12, Haydock stages the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes and this Group 3 contest over a mile and a quarter can sometimes throw up a useful winner. Mutamam took the race in 1998 and Nayef landed the spoils for Marcus Tregoning in 2001, underlining the latter’s fine record in the race and the domination of the event by three-year-olds.
On August 19 Newbury hosts the Group 3 Hungerford Stakes and the message here is to side with one of the first three in the betting. This isn’t a race for outsiders while over at Ripon the ‘Garden’ course stages the Great St Wilfrid Handicap, one of the season’s most competitive sprint handicaps. A high draw is important and a recent success or sound placed effort is often on the c.v, of the eventual winner.
The Group1 Juddmonte International sets matters on their way on August 22, the opening day of York’s fantastic three-day Ebor festival and this is not a race for outsiders. Fancied horses frequently do well and no winner of this race since 1994 has started at bigger odds than 6-1. Brian Meehan’s David Junior is sure to be among the market leaders and may be the one to beat while Jeremy Noseda hasn’t ruled out tackling this race with ace miler, Araafa.
The Group 2 Great St Voltigeur Stakes over a mile and a half for three year olds on August 22 is the season’s most important trial for the St Leger and six recent winners of the final classic have competed in the York showpiece. Once again Sir Michael Stoute is the man to watch and his decision to target Papal Bull at this prize suggests that the latter may well be the yard’s number one Leger candidate.
The Tote Ebor on August 23 is often a race for an improving young horse that hasn’t been burdened with a big weight and Luca Cumani, who has won the race a couple of times in recent years, may have a likely sort in Glistening while in the Yorkshire Oaks over a mile and a half there will be only one winner if the imperious Alexandrova takes her place on the Knavesmire.
York’s final day on August 24 could well see another Irish victory in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes over five furlongs when Ireland’s top two speedsters, Dandy Man and Osterhase go head to head with preference for the former who has looked high-class on occasion this term and beat the latter fair and square at the Curragh in July.
August ends with the Celebration Mile at Goodwood on August 26 and in-form and progressive sorts tend to hold sway in this valuable event, while over at Beverley on August 27 there’s a competitive sprint handicap over five furlongs that has been won three times in recent seasons by John Wainwright and his stable selected must be considered carefully.
About the Author: Malcolm Heyhoe writes weekly horse racing articles for the UK horse racing betting site GG.com - horse racing betting, information, free daily tips, free expert articles, free 4 year form database, free alerts, free racing commentary, compare odds, forum and more!