Saturday Racing Tips: Follow the girls all the way on Shergar Cup day

Hayley Turner - part of The Girls team bidding to win the 2016 Shergar Cup
Hayley Turner - part of The Girls team bidding to win the 2016 Shergar Cup

Our regular big-price tipster Tony Calvin is currently enjoying a well-earned break, so we've drafted in racing enthusiast and long-standing betting.betfair contributor Mike Norman to run the rule over some of Saturday's Channel 4 races...

"That was still a very pleasing run, even more so when considering that Early Morning was conceding weight - albeit just 1lb - to Librisa Breeze that day and was beaten just two lengths off that horse who has since landed an almighty gamble at Ascot and is now rated 107."

Back Early Morning @ 8.07/1 - 14:55 Ascot

Thanks TC! When asking if I'd be able to keep his Saturday tipping column ticking over while he was on holiday, Tony somehow forgot to mention that I'd have the Shergar Cup - quite possibly the least favourite meeting of the flat season for regular punters - and a Pro-Am lady riders race at Haydock to mull over.

With friends like Calvin, who needs enemies?

But less of the moaning, and the early excuses, let's get straight to the televised action from the Shergar Cup at Ascot where Channel 4 bosses have decided - much to my delight - to show all six races (the first two on More 4).

Dutch can Master his Dash rivals

For all my jest, the afternoon commences with the very competitive Shergar Cup Dash at 13:15 in which I'm very sweet on the chances of last year's runner-up Dutch Masterpiece. Back him at 9.08/1 or bigger.

Gary Moore's six-year-old went down by just a nose 12 months ago, yet despite winning a course and distance Listed race since is able to race off the same mark here (98) thanks in large to some seemingly unpromising efforts of late.

But rewind to Goodwood just 10 days ago and those of you with eagle eyes will have spotted Dutch Masterpiece travelling really well two furlongs out before being repeatedly denied a clear run when looking to have plenty to offer. James McDonald accepted defeat inside the final furlong and eased down considerably, being beat just under six lengths at the line.

That run was extremely encouraging with Saturday's race in mind as it suggested that Dutch Masterpiece could potentially be back to his best, and it's worth remembering that he was rated a 107 animal just four runs ago.

All of his last four wins have come on Saturday's official going description of Good ground, though he won't mind if it rides a little faster, and the Moore stable was back amongst the winners in midweek with a Wednesday double at Bath and Brighton.

And we haven't even mentioned that the excellent Josephine Gordon - making her Shergar Cup debut - takes the ride on Saturday and is able to take off a valuable 3lb.

In-form yards to do battle in Stayers

So with the nap already landed in the Dash we quickly move on to the Shergar Cup Stayers at 13:45 where the girls can strike another blow courtesy of Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard Haines.

The first thing to point out is that the Sir Mark Prescott-trained jolly Sea Of Heaven will take all the beating here but I'm not prepared to take a short price about a horse ridden by a jockey - Kenichi Ikezoe - who I know very little about other than his association with Orfevre.

But granted, the Prescott yard could win with the stable cat at present - though not before finishing down the field in a trio of feline maidens over an inadequate trip first - such has been their form of late.

If Sea Of Heaven wins then so be it, but I wouldn't put anyone off backing Haines from an equally in-form stable. Andrew Balding's five-year-old put up a career best effort when just denied in the Northumberland Plate consolation race six weeks ago, and he would be a huge player if able to translate that form to turf.

However this will be Haines' 10th race on grass and he has previously only once been placed, so perhaps a watching brief is the best course of action.

Early Morning to deliver an afternoon winner

I looked long and hard at the Challenge at 14:20 but nothing appealed enough to tip up, though Plutocracy - the girls again - or Darshini for the in-form Sir Michael Stoute yard would be my two against the field.

So come the fourth race on the card - the Shergar Cup Mile at 14:55 The Girls (to give them their official team name) should already be in a great position to win the competition and I have a feeling they'll strike again courtesy of the Hayley Turner-ridden Early Morning.

Back him at 8.07/1 or better.

The case is a straightforward one to make. Harry Dunlop's five-year-old put up a career best effort when winning off 95 over this trip at Lingfield three runs back, and he followed that up with a very respectable effort in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot where he done a lot of the donkey work on ground that would have been softer than ideal.

That was still a very pleasing run, even more so when considering that Early Morning was conceding weight - albeit just 1lb - to Librisa Breeze that day and was beaten just two lengths by that horse who has since landed an almighty gamble at Ascot and is now rated 107.

It's easy to forgive Early Morning's subsequent defeat at York - he was bumped at the start and could never deploy his front-running tactics - and if able to dictate in this much smaller field I expect him to take some catching.

Combative to out-battle Classic rivals

Nothing appeals in the closing wide-open Sprint at 16:05, by which time The Girls will hopefully have won the team event, but before that the Shergar Cup Classic at 15:30 looks at the mercy of the progressive Combative.

Before I get on to his claims however, it's worth pointing out that The Girls (Wilson and Gordon) ride the first two in the early betting here which just adds weight to my belief that they represent a solid wager in the Winning Team market at 9/4 on the Betfair Sportsbook.

Back to Combative though, and he looks an improving three-year-old who will relish this return to 12 furlongs - easy to forgive his only previous try at the trip in the mud at Salisbury two runs back - judged on his staying on fifth in a hot handicap over 11 furlongs at Goodwood last week.

Amanda Perrett's charge came with what looked a promising run two furlongs out that day, but he was messed about with slightly by a horse hanging into him, and he couldn't really maintain a sustained effort.

Admittedly he was well beaten at the line - just over four lengths by the well-backed Poets Word - but he would have grabbed third if being able to run straight and true so he looks worth chancing here at around 8.27/1 off the same mark with the step back up in trip set to suit.

The form of the Perrett yard is the only slight negative, but they've hit the crossbar a few times in the last week and we do have the assistance of champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa in the saddle.

Dance can call the tune in Ladies' race

Over at Haydock, in that Pro-Am Lady Riders' Race at 14:35, I do like the claims of Dance King at around the 7.06/1 mark.

His sixth (of 17) in the Old Newton Cup over course and distance two runs back reads well in the context of this race, he has the assistance of the top lady rider in the race, Rachel Richardson, and the Tim Easterby yard are going well (two winners and six places since Sunday).

I'll stop short of putting him up as a tip however, as with just seven runners with riders of varying degrees of ability, it could turn into a muddling race.

So as Mr Calvin himself would say, be lucky.

Recommended Bes

Back Dutch Masterpiece @ 9.08/1 - 13:15 Ascot
Back Early Morning @ 8.07/1 - 14:55 Ascot
Back Combative @ 8.27/1 - 15:30 Ascot
Back The Girls @ 9/4 - Shergar Cup Winning Team

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