Thursday 8 December 2016

Improving Besharah can turn the tables on Illuminate

Wayne Bailey

Published 26/09/2015 | 02:30

Pat Cosgrave riding Besharah
Pat Cosgrave riding Besharah

IF his forecast odds of 2/5 are anything to go by, Shalaa's chances of winning the Group One Middle Park Stakes (3.10 Newmarket) are just over 70pc.

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Although not too many punters would have the bankroll to make backing him at that price worthwhile, the colt will no doubt play a part in many doubles, trebles and accumulators all across Britain and Ireland.

While most people would consider John Gosden's charge the 'cert' of the day, it depends on what way you look at it I suppose.

From the point of view of a bookmaker or exchange layer, Shalaa's chances of getting beaten are nearly 30pc - and as we saw when Golden Horn lost at 4/9 at York, odds-on betting can be a risky business.

At the prices, I'm not greatly bothered about having a wager on Shalaa but I can't find anything to oppose him with either, so for me, it's a race best enjoyed without a bet.

Shalaa's impressive performance in the prestigious Prix Morny at Deauville confirmed his status as the best juvenile in Europe right now and with 6lbs in hand on official ratings over nearest rival Ajaya, it will be a major shock if Frankie Dettori's mount is beaten.

One favourite that I am happy to back today is Besharah, which has been chalked up at 9/4 in the early markets for the Group One Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes for fillies (2.35 Newmarket). Won by Richard Hannon's flying filly Tiggy Wiggy (6/4) last year, it has been punter-friendly recently and it's ten years since a horse priced in double figures won it.

A winner of the Lowther Stakes at York last month, Besharah was beaten by a nose by today's second favourite Illuminate in a Group Two here in July - but while Illuminate hasn't seen a racecourse since then, Besharah (below) progressed plenty in the meantime and the manner in which she forged clear to beat another one of today's rivals, Lumiere, in the Lowther suggests she has more to offer before the season is out.

William Haggas reports her to be in fine condition, and she should take all the beating.

Alice Springs is also worth a mention around 5/1. Aidan O'Brien's Galileo filly hasn't won since her debut at the Curragh in June but she wasn't too far behind stablemate Minding when third in a Group One at headquarters last time which was positive, though this is her first time racing below seven furlongs.

At Chester, Borak gets the plum draw in stall one and should be worth a few bob around 7/2 in their closing handicap (5.25).

Just over a week ago, the Bernard Llewellyn-trained gelding put in one of his career best races to land a handicap at Chepstow over a mile and-a-half off a mark of 74, and the handicapper has reacted by raising his mark 6lbs to 80.

Seven-pound claimer Jordan Williams has been booked to do the steering and if Borak can get out early into his preferred front-running position, he's bound to be in the reckoning.

Priced around 9/4, Brandon Castle is likely to go off as favourite.

Andrew Balding's representative won a small-field handicap at Ffos Las a couple of weeks ago but a 10lb hike in the weights seems a bit harsh, and I reckon he'll struggle in the business end of the race.

Earlier, Michael Stoute's Royal Seal gets the nod in the Stella Artois Handicap (4.50) around 4/1.

Each-way

A massive field of 35 go to post for the Betfred Cambridgeshire (3.50 Newmarket) but you can narrow down the field significantly by focusing on those with good recent form.

It's rare to see a winner which didn't finish in the top four last time out and having stormed home to win a handicap off 90 at Thirsk last time, Third Time Lucky gets the nod today, priced around 10/1.

While he's up 5lbs and faces a much stiffer task with the extra furlong in trip, Richard Fahey has his team in great order and I reckon this one has more to give before the handicapper catches up.

Today's selections

2.00 Newmarket: Deauville

2.35 Newmarket: Besharah

3.05 Chester: Hakka

3.50 Newmarket: Third Time Lucky (e/w)

4.50 Chester: Royal Seal

5.25 Chester: Borak

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