Mark Milligan has taken a look at Saturday's big races and found a bet that should have conditions to suit at Ascot...
"Make no mistake, this is a smart horse when he has conditions to suit and the fact that he's yet to hit top form this year on quick ground means we're able to target him at a backable price"
On a stellar weekend of racing, an Arc for the ages will rightly take centre-stage on Sunday, but there's a fantastic feast of domestic action on Saturday that shouldn't be overlooked, headed by the Group 1 Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (14:55) at Newmarket.
Snow Lantern announced herself on the scene with an impressive win in maiden company at Newbury in April before taking the Falmouth Stakes on the July course on what was just her fifth career start. Richard Hannon's daughter of Sky Lantern posted a solid fourth behind rising star Baeed in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp last time and rightly heads the market back against her own sex.
Whilst Snow Lantern has had Mother Earth behind her on a couple of occasions this season, the margins have not been great and it would be no surprise to see Aidan O'Brien's strong daughter of Zoffany turn the tables on her main rival.
A winner of the 1000 Guineas on her reappearance, Mother Earth has been a model of consistency since then, winning another Group 1 in France, and was then arguably a little unlucky not to win the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time. Tight for room on the rail, she never really got chance to unwind throughout the final furlong or so.
The winner of the Matron, No Speak Alexander, lines up against Mother Earth once more and there shouldn't be a great deal between the pair if she can reproduce that effort.
However, that performance from No Speak Alexander was a long way in front of anything she'd previously achieved and I'd like to see her replicate it before rowing in with this one.
Primo is one to back if pushed
Primo Bacio looked a filly going places when taking a York listed race in May (had a below-par Snow Lantern back in third) and that impression was backed up when she looked a little unlucky not to finish closer than fifth in the Falmouth next time. She also didn't really get the breaks when only seventh behind Mother Earth in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville in August.
However, the knock on Primo Bacio's chance came last time when she was well held behind Space Blues in a Group 2 at York. It's possible that race may have come just a little too soon after France and a short freshening since then could see her bounce back to form. She's no forlorn hope at double-figure odds if that is the case.
Lavender's Blue posted a career-best effort when taking the scalp of the returning Benbatl at Goodwood last time, form that was franked when Saeed bin Suroor's charge went in at this track last week. She'll likely need to improve again, though, if she's to land a telling blow here.
The likes of Fev Rover and Saffron Beach are others that can't be confidently ruled out in what looks a solid renewal. If pushed for a selection, I'd likely just side with Primo Bacio from an each-way perspective, though this is very much a contest to savour and not one that necessarily needs a financial interest to be enjoyed.
Quality Group 3 contests at Ascot
It's not just Newmarket that provides high quality racing on Saturday, there's a super card over at Ascot too, where a pair of Group 3s are the highlight of the action at the Berkshire track.
Hukum heads the market in the ABF/BGC Cumberland Lodge Stakes (14:40) and he could prove a cut above this opposition if back to the sort of form that saw him take similar races at Newbury and York in the summer.
However, he was turned over at odds-on at Kempton last time and was also reported to have made a respiratory noise in the aftermath of that race. That would be enough for me to swerve him at the current odds, particularly with the possibility that the ground could be quite testing if Ascot gets anywhere near the upper limit of the forecast rain.
The following John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes (15:15) has an open look to it, with last year's Champions Sprint winner Glen Shiel just heading the market. If back to his best, he'll be a threat to all at the scene of his greatest success, though he's performed poorly on his last couple of outings.
Great Ambassador has improved in leaps and bounds since joining the Ed Walker yard and won the race on his side in the Ayr Gold Cup last time only to be collared by the flying Bielsa down the near-side rail. I'm expecting Great Ambassador to reverse that form here.
There are plenty of others in with chances in what is a solid race for the level, but the most intriguing runner might well be Boosala, who is having just his fourth run here having not been seen since Boxing Day last year.
He might find this just a touch too much at this stage of his development but is one to keep an eye on if connections can get a clean run with him from now on.
Dakota Gold to get back to winning ways
Whilst the races I've covered so far have yet to throw up a decent betting opportunity, the Listed Oakman Group Rous Stakes (14:05) looks one to get stuck into. I'm hoping plenty of rain falls at Ascot because that will suit Dakota Gold down to the ground in this sprint.
Make no mistake, this is a smart horse when he has conditions to suit and the fact that he's yet to hit top form this year on quick ground means we're able to target him at a backable price. He was in fine form last year, winning four times on an easy surface, and he could be set to bounce right back to that sort of level this autumn.
The likes of Hurricane Ivor, Tis Marvellous and the lightly raced Minzaal all have claims, but I'll be doing a rain dance around the living room in the hope that Ascot gets plenty of the forecast precipitation. If that's the case, Dakota Gold will take plenty of stopping.
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