There aren’t many highlights during midweek this week, though the Group 3 Shadwell Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury on Thursday deserves a mention. However, there’s some really interesting races weekend to look forward to at the weekend. Punters that fancy Enable to win a second Arc in October face the dilemma of whether to back John Gosden’s four-year-old filly for the Autumn highlight before she runs in the September Stakes at Kempton on Saturday. She’s drifted to around 11/2 for a repeat success in the Arc, but it’s worth remembering she went off at around 10/11 when she won the 2017 Arc. She’s currently trading at 4/7 to win the September Stakes.
The other highlight of the weekend is the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock, where Harry Angel will be looking to repeat last year’s stunning four-lengths success. Meanwhile, other big races this weekend include the Sirenia Stakes, the Unibet Mile, and the Ascendant Stakes.
Salisbury (Thursday 6 September)
Shadwell Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes
The Shadwell Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes is a Group 3 Race limited to two-year-old fillies that is run over 6 furlongs. The race was first run in 1988 as a Listed Race but was upgraded to a Group 3 in 2014. Its most famous winners include Crimplene, Serious Attitude, and La Rioja.
No trainer has won the race twice in the last 10 years, so a win for the likely favourite Firelight, trained by Andrew Balding, would continue that trend. Firelight is already a dual winner this season, whilst the form of her fourth in the Lowther Stakes last time at York would give her an obvious chance if she runs to the same level here. She also has at least 6lb in hand of all her rivals on official ratings, though it will be interesting to see if Silvestre de Sousa can get anything extra out of Lady Aria, who finished just a neck behind Firelight when they clashed earlier in the season.
Kempton (Saturday 8 September)
The September Stakes is a Group 3 Race limited to horses aged three and older and is run over 11 furlongs and 219 yards. The race was first run in 1979 on turf but was switched to the Polytrack at Kempton in 2006. The race’s most notable winners include Jeune, Yavana’s Pace, Mutaman, Mamool, Prince Bishop, and Jack Hobbs.
The 2018 September Stakes has the makings of a real cracker as trainer John Gosden is set to use the race as a warm-up for the Arc for last year’s horse of the year Enable. However, the star four-year-old filly may not have the easy race her trainer was expecting, as Sir Michael Stoute has entered Crystal Ocean, who was last seen finishing runner-up in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.
188Bet Casino Sirenia Stakes
The Sirenia Stakes is a Group 3 race limited to two-year-olds that is run over 6 furlongs. It was first run in 1974 when it was won by the legendary Grundy, who went on to win three classics the following season including the English Derby and the Irish Derby. The race has failed to produce a winner of such significance since, but winners have included the high-class Rahy, Primo Valentino, Hooray, and The Last Lion. This year’s field has attracted a decent field, with three possible runners already rated over 100. These are the top-rated Konchek, Quiet Endeavour, and Sporting Chance.
Haydock (Saturday 8 September)
The Unibet Mile, formerly known as the Superior Mile Stakes, is a Group 3 Race for horses aged three and older that is run over a trip of 1 mile and 37 yards. The race was first run in 2003 as a Listed Race, before being upgraded to a Group 3 in 2013. Gateman won the inaugural edition, whilst other notable winners include crowd favourites like Thistle Bird and Top Notch Tonto.
The 2018 Unibet Mile could be a very competitive affair, with eight of the possible runners being rated within 2lb of each other at the top of the ratings. These runners include Emmaus, Here Comes When, Salsabeel, So Beloved, Tabarrak, Zonderland, Regal Reality, Unforgettable Filly, and Threading. The lightly-raced Regal Reality is the one that catches the eye though, as Sir Michael Stoute has won two of the last nine renewals and Ryan Moore was an eye-catching early booking for the Cheveley Park owned three-year-old.
32Red Casino Ascendant Stakes
The Ascendant Stakes is a Listed Race that is limited to two-year-olds and is run over 6 furlongs. It was first run in 2007 and has been won by the likes of Campanologist, Havana Gold, Celestial Path, Foundation, and Frankuus.
The stable of Richard Hannon has an excellent record in the race with three previous wins and has entered both Floating Artist and Kuwait Currency. Meanwhile, dual winning trainer Mark Johnston has three possible entries in Accordance, Persian Moon, and Nayef Road. The 2015 winning trainer John Gosden also has two significant looking entries and he could call upon the unbeaten pair of Waldstern and Beatboxer.
32 Red Sprint Cup Stakes
The Haydock Sprint Cup is a Group 1 Race open to horses aged three and older and takes place over 6 furlongs. The race was first run in 1966 under the banner of the Vernons Sprint Cup. The race was upgraded to a Group 1 in 1988 and has been won by some of the best sprinters ever to have graced UK racetracks.
The Sprint Cup role of honour includes Green Desert, Ajdal, Danehill, Dayjur, Polar Falcon, Royal Applause, Diktat, Pipalong, Invincible Spirit, Dream Ahead, Society Rock, Twilight Son, and Quiet Reflection. Harry Angel won last year’s renewal and is the short-priced favourite to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals since Be Friendly won the first two editions of the race in 1966/67.
That statistic alone could be enough to put most punters off backing the Clive Cox trained four-year-old, whilst it’s also hard to know what form Harry Angel will be in after a forced absence of 77 days after hurting himself in the stalls at Royal Ascot.
However, there’s also a big case for backing him. He’s the top-rated horse, rated 7lb and upwards better than all of his rivals. He also handles ground ranging from soft to good-to-firm, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by whatever ground conditions prevail.
However, the most compelling argument for backing Harry Angel has to be the memory of him accelerating away from toiling rivals to win the 2017 Sprint Cup by an impressive four-lengths. That win was achieved on soft ground, but it’s also worth remembering that he set a new course and distance record when winning the Sandy Lane Stakes last season on quick ground.
The other major statistic that will make him a must bet this weekend for many punters is that he’s unbeaten anywhere but Ascot. He’s won five of his 10 career starts and all of his five defeats where at Ascot. Therefore, in my eyes, Harry looks an Angel sent straight from heaven.