Zaaki looks set for revenge on Haydock rival
The Shergar Cup takes place at Ascot today and for those readers unfamiliar with the concept, it's basically a competition in which jockeys join teams and compete for their region, similar to golf's Ryder Cup.
As I've said before, I don't think it's the worst idea overall, but I'm not mad keen from a betting point of view as the competition is based over six handicap races which are usually quite difficult to figure out.
That said, my somewhat negative view of the Shergar Cup was tempered quite a bit last year when my each-way selection Great Hall won at 12/1 for Mick Quinn under Fran Berry.
Winning a few bob will always change your view on something, although I've had a look through the card and once again, it's very difficult to find bets to recommend.
So, like last year, I'm going to have just one bet at Ascot today which I've put in the each-way section of this column.
As a result, attention turns to Haydock, where Zaaki could be one to keep onside in the Smarkets Betting Exchange Rose of Lancaster Stakes (3.05) under David Probert.
Trained as a juvenile by Mohamed Moubarak and now under the guidance of Michael Stoute, the colt hit the basement price of 1/100 in-running on Betfair last time before being chinned on the line by Communique, in what looked like a decent handicap at Newmarket.
Communique has franked that form by winning another competitive handicap, suggesting Zaaki should have more to come, although so too could Communique, which re-opposes today.
But five-lengths third in a 16-runner Group Three at Royal Ascot previously, the selection is not out of place at this level and early odds of 5/2 are more than fair.
Communique has yet to race in Group company but it will give trainer Mark Johnston a good indication of where his colt is at right now, although he's worse off at the weights today with Zaaki.
Of the rest, Elwazir looks the biggest danger to the bet. Owen Burrows' colt is on a roll with two wins from two this season including a handicap victory at Ascot last time.
That race was sponsored by the Playboy club in London, which seems rather odd for a meeting often billed as a family event, and for a racecourse which is seen as strict and conservative.
Odds of 12/1 or thereabouts seem quite high for Lincoln Rocks which has an entry in the Listed Fillies and Mares' Smarkets/British EBF Dick Hern Stakes (2.30). Trained by David O'Meara, the five-year-old mare struggled in Group Three and Group Two company this summer, but she does have winning Listed form in the book and went close in a Group Three in May.
Understandably, punters have been put off by her latest two efforts, where she finished last, and perhaps we've seen the best of her already, but I reckon she's worth another chance back down in grade in an open-looking race.
At Cork, Bloomfields gets the nod around 9/2 in the Group Three feature (3.0).
If the early betting is anything to go by, Aussie Reigns is going to be friendless in the markets around 33/1 for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers Handicap at Ascot (1.40), but Gary Moore's gelding slips in here at the bottom of the weights, and may just run a little better than those odds suggest.
Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, he was decent enough over hurdles and while it's been a while since he's put in a good run on the flat, things can eventually bottom out in handicaps and his mark has dropped from 102 this time last year to a realistic 88 today.
This is his first race since having a wind operation which may make a difference, although he hasn't been seen since February so there's plenty of guesswork involved. But on balance, he looks a value bet.
∂ Last week's each-way selection, Solar Flair, was placed at 25/1.
1.40 Ascot: Aussie Reigns (e/w)
2.30 Haydock: Lincoln Rocks
3.0 Cork: Bloomfields
3.05 Haydock: Zaaki
3.45 Newmarket: La Pelosa
Do the double
Donegal let me down last week, and I find the Ulster teams unpredictable, but Tyrone looked strong in Ballybofey and Mickey Harte's men can get the better of Monaghan, priced 4/5. I'd love to see Monaghan get to the final for the first time since 1930, and they beat Tyrone already in the Ulster Championship, but Tyrone's experience on the big stage will be advantageous.
Main Edition is the 11/4 favourite at the time of writing for the Group Three Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket (3.45), and she should go close based on some winning form at this level at Ascot. But preference is for La Pelosa, which is expected to go off around 100/30. Trained by Charlie Appleby , she was a neck-second to Main Edition in that Ascot race, and finished ahead of that rival when fifth in a Newmarket Group Two, although both were hampered.