Horse Racing Tips

Vanessa Ryle: 14/1 Vadream can repeat her Ascot victory on Saturday

Ascot
Vanessa Ryle puts up a rare selection on Saturday
  • Trainer Charlie Fellowes' strike rate continues to impress
  • A confident Saturday selection over at Ascot

Charlie Fellowes is in his ninth year of holding a training licence and is now transitioning from being classed in the 'new wave' bracket to a rather more in the established guard at Newmarket.

His time as a trainer has seen all numbers increasing year on year but, as with all things in life, nothing is quite so simple as it seems...

When Marbaan won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood back in July Fellowes was unexpectedly emotional in his post-race interview with Oli Bell on ITV Racing. The trainer expressed how important this win was for the owner but also how tough a season he had been enduring, somewhat unknown to most.

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"We've had a rough season - from Grand Alliance throwing away the King Edward... to a few other small issues... for some reason this has been a really hard year for us."

A move to Bedford House Stables just before the pandemic hit in 2019 meant that what was already a big enough challenge taking on a huge and historical yard was suddenly made a lot harder given the uncertainty of the times over the coming months.

However, in 2021 Fellowes registered his best year yet numerically with 41 winners.

This year, despite things clearly having been tricky in the early part of the season, he looks as though he will surpass that winners tally despite having considerably less runners.

By the end of September in 2021 Fellowes had saddled 266 runners, and at the same point this year he has sent out 220.

Despite 46 fewer runners, the win tally is down by only three and, given that there have clearly been some issues this year at Bedford Lodge, it's testament to the consistency of the trainer and the team that they are still able to return such results despite things not going perfectly.

September has seen Fellowes' strike-rate increase to 18% with six winners including the recent Newcastle maiden winner Chorlton Lane who caught a lot of people's attention when bolting in on debut and never coming off the bridle - quite literally.

A typical Jamie Spencer ride saw the already-gelded son of Mehmas swing past his rivals and win by three lengths at 11/4.

On Friday, Fellowes will saddle just one runner back up at Newcastle, a track he has an impressive 20% strike-rate with 20 winners. Virgo will be his 100th runner at the Northern venue and will just be jockey Mikkel Mortensen's second ride in the public.

From Denmark, the 7lb claimer is based with Fellowes and made his UK riding debut on this horse earlier this month at Redcar.

Fellowes' main focus this weekend will be on Ascot where he saddles Vadream in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes on Saturday and the filly looks to win the race for a second year in a row having taken it in 2021 when in more consistent form than she has shown this season.

Her ante-post price of 14/1 reflects the patchiness of her form this year as well as a poor showing in the Ayr Gold Cup behind the re-opposing Summerghand.

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However, her one decent bit of form this season came at Newmarket under Harry Davies who is back in the saddle once more, albeit unable to claim because of the status of the race.

Good ground may well be a small concern and any rain that falls in the Berkshire area over the coming days will be welcomed by connections of Vadream.

From a similar stall to where she won 12 months ago, she could outrun her odds and into a place if she is on a going day - something that can't be guaranteed with the four-year-old filly.

Finally, keep an eye out for the enigmatic Grand Alliance this autumn. Walking the tightrope between talent and temperament, it was probably inevitable that he would be booked in for a gelding operation sooner rather than later and, with that now behind him, he holds just one entry in a handicap at Newmarket in the coming weeks.

After breaking his trainer's heart at Royal Ascot when snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it would be a fitting end to his season if he were to get back in the winners' enclosure with a more focused mind!

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