Inside Track: Pelerin to get her head in front
Harley can be trusted to time it right this time on Botti's filly
Shergar Cup day in Britain tends to be one of the least appealing days of the year from a punting perspective.
Today's line-up is in keeping with that tradition. Of the 41 scheduled cross-channel races, 29 are handicaps, seven are maidens and there is one seller and one claimer. That leaves just three Pattern races, which is pretty sorry fare for a Saturday, given how the British Horseracing Authority's programme now comprises a number of other Saturdays that are oversubscribed with quality racing.
The Dick Hern Fillies Stakes at Haydock is one of the most attractive betting heats. A dozen runners have been declared for the mile Listed event, with 10 of the 12 rated between 92 and 100 and nine rated between 96 and 100. It is a competitive race, and Yasmeen looks to have a chance of chipping in on John Gosden's sensational campaign.
Paul Hanagan's mount was deemed good enough to run in the Coronation Stakes after finishing second in a York Listed race. She was outclassed behind Ervedya and then floundered on soft ground in an Ascot Listed race.
On the forecast decent going, this might be a chance for Yasmeen to get back on track. However, her siblings have a history of failing to build on similar early promise, so she doesn't appeal greatly in such an open race.
The unbeaten Roxy Star could be a springer in the field. William Haggas's Fastnet Rock filly won for a third time on the spin when drawing clear off a mark of 83 at Ascot. Up to 92 now, she will have to keep improving, but she could at the very least run into a place.
The most appealing option at up to 12/1 is Marco Botti's Pelerin. Successful at Thirsk last year off 81, Pelerin progressed to gain a deserved Listed triumph at Dundalk in October. A daughter of Shamardal, she simply needed the race on her return when sixth to Brooch in a hot Curragh Group Two in May, with the subsequent dual Group One winner Amazing Maria third on that occasion.
Last time out, Pelerin was set alight too early by Martin Harley at Pontefract. Harley is a top rider who doesn't get it wrong too often, but he simply committed too aggressively, rendering Pelerin a sitting duck inside the distance.
She ultimately finished third behind Nakuti. That form mightn't be good enough for this, but the suspicion is that Pelerin is quite a bit better than that. As such, with Harley likely to adopt more even tactics, she is fancied to get her head in front again.
Gosden's Figment gets the nod to take the seven-furlong maiden at Newmarket. After five near misses, Rob Havlin's mount has become frustrating, but front-running tactics stretched her stamina over a mile on her last two starts.
Back down in trip now, Figment could take plenty catching if similar pace-setting tactics are deployed.
There was a lot to like about Zannda’s triumph at Cork on Tuesday night.
Dermot Weld’s Aga Khan-owned filly hadn’t been seen since finishing second to Pleascach over 10 furlongs at Naas in May, form that has since been franked in grand style.
Zannda stepped up to 12 furlongs at the Mallow track, where the consistent Altesse was her highest-rated rival on 102. Weld’s daughter of Azamour raced handily and Pat Smullen had to chase her to challenge in the Group Three.
Altesse led two furlongs out but Zannda refused to go away, bravely prevailing on the nod by a head. Now twice a winner and three times a runner-up in five starts, she has Group One entries in the Yorkshire Oaks and the fillies’ race on Champions Day at Ascot.
The Group Two Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp on Arc weekend is also on the agenda for a filly with scope to develop into a serious four-year-old.
Lay of The Day
Double Up is a 9/4 shot for this afternoon’s Shergar Cup opener at Ascot and he appeals as one to take on.
Due to be ridden by Australian Blake Shinn – he of YouTube split breeches fame – Double Up has a massive 10st 2lb to carry. A winner here over this five-furlong trip in July, he is 29lbs higher than he was in May, and his Goodwood defeat hinted his improvement may be stalling.
A Little Each Way
On the day that’s in it at Ascot, you could probably do worse than adopt a policy of blind support for a rider of Pat Smullen’s calibre.
He has five bookings, with Triple Dip appealing as a live each-way option in the ambitiously titled 12-furlong ‘Classic’. Mark Johnston’s filly had been holding her form well this year prior to being outclassed in a good race at Goodwood. Back down in class now, she has place claims under Smullen at odds of up to 11/1.
With a strike-rate at Ayr of 6-13 for 46pc, Adrian Keatley's four runners at the Scottish track today will command attention.
However, it is his fellow fledgling Irish handler Johnny Feane whose foray might go under the radar. The Curragh handler sends two runners, with Asian Wing one to note.
Twice a Dundalk winner since joining Feane this year, Asian Wing finished third to Modem at Killarney, form that the winner franked at Galway.
Asian Wing got out quite late in Killarney, and flew home. He is in off the same mark of 63 in today's long-distance race, so he should be thereabouts again for Daniel Tudhope.