The main highlight of this week’s horse racing is the Group 2 Hungerford at Newbury on Saturday, which also features the Denford Stakes and the Geoffrey Freer Stakes on the same card. Meanwhile, the Great St Wilfred Handicap is the main attraction at Ripon on Saturday. There’s also plenty of high-class action before then this week, with Salisbury’s two-day Summer Holiday Family Races Meeting, as well as the Hurry Harriet Stakes from Gowran Park, and the Group 3 Desmond Stakes from Leopardstown.
Salisbury (Wednesday 15 August)
Upavon Fillies Stakes (15.40)
The Upavon Fillies Stakes is the highlight of the first day of Salisbury’s two-day Summer Holiday Family Races Meeting, and it is a Listed Race run over 1 mile 1 furlong and 201 yards. It was first run in 1988 and has been won by the likes of Rumoosh, Chorist, Lady Pimpernel, Journey, Chain Of Daisies, and Billesdon Bess. Henry Candy has trained two of the last four winners of the race and may be represented this year by his 2016 winner Chain Of Daisies, who could be taken on by 2017 winner Billesdon Bess. However, Chain Of Daisies is officially rated 11lb higher than Billesdon Bess. Meanwhile, Promising Run and Pleasant Surprise have proved themselves at this level, whilst Crystal Hope, Rasima, and Savaanah are interesting three-year-olds.
Gowran Park (Wednesday 15 August)
Hurry Harriet Stakes (18.40)
The Hurry Harriet Stakes is a Listed Race run over 1 mile 1 furlong and 100 yards. It was first run in 2007 and has been won by the likes of Baby Blue Eyes, Katiyra, Easter, and Alluringly. Three-year-olds have the best record in the race having won eight of the 11 renewals. Meanwhile, Dermot Weld has trained four of the last nine winners, whilst Aidan O’Brien has trained three of the last seven winners. Bella Estrella is Weld’s only entry, and this lightly-raced four-year-old could bid to make it four wins from five starts. Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien has a quintet of possible of entries, with Broadway, Curly, Hence, I Can Fly, and Most Gifted all being three-year-olds. No English-trained horse has won the race, but Snowy Winter (Archie Watson) and Regina Pacis (Roger Charlton) both have entries.
Salisbury (Thursday 16 August)
Sovereign Stakes (16.10)
The highlight of the second day of Salisbury’s Summer Holiday Family Races Meeting is the Sovereign Stakes, a Group 3 Race that takes place over one-mile. The race was established in 2000, with notable winners being Passing Glance, Norse Dancer, Side Glance, Tullius, Captain Cat, Kodi Bear, Zonderland, and Ballet Concerto. Clive Cox has trained two of the last three winners, whilst Andrew Balding has trained three of the last seven winners. Clive Cox could again saddle 2016 winner Zonderland, whilst Andrew Balding could rely on South Seas. However, both could face some stern opposition, with the likes of Elarqam, Wadilsafa, Tabarrack, Robin Of Navan, Hathal, and Stormy Antarctic all rated 110+.
Leopardstown (Thursday 16 August)
Desmond Stakes (19.20)
The Desmond Stakes is a Group 3 Race that is run over a mile. It was first run in 1946 and it was originally dominated by the legendary Vincent O’Brien who enjoyed a record 12 winners of the race. Since then, Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld have both won the race five times. The race has an interesting role of honour, including the likes of Be My Guest, Teleprompter, Bin Ajwaad, Refuse To Bend, Famous Name, Gordon Lord Byron, Custom Cut, and Cougar Mountain. The 2018 Desmond Stakes could also have a high-class winner if David O’Meara’s Grade 1 winner Suedois turns up, though he may need the ground to be on the fast side. If there’s rain about, Psychedelic Funk could be of interest.
Newbury (Friday 17 August)
Byerley Stud Stakes (15.30)
The Byerley Stud Stakes is a Listed Race run over 5 furlongs and 34 yards which, up until 2017, was run as the St Hugh’s Stakes. The race is restricted to two-year-olds and has been won by speedy two-year-old fillies such as Palacegate Episode, Swiss Lake, Rosdhu Queen, and Mrs Danvers. Three horses at this year’s five-day entry stage standout on ratings, Kodyanna, Second Generation, and Come On Leicester, with the latter catching the eye with Ryan Moore an early jockey booking.
Newbury (Saturday 18 August)
Denford Stakes (13.50)
The Denford Stakes, formerly known as the Washington Singer Stakes up until this season, is a Listed Race run over seven furlongs. It is open to two-year-olds that are yet to win a Group Race, but it has been won by some very famous horses including Rodrigo de Triano, Tenby, Colonel Collins, Lammtara, Haafhd, Belardo, and Hey Gaman. Three-time winning trainer Mark Johnston looks sure to make a bold bid to become the joint winning-most trainer, as he has four possible representatives in Accordance, Bo Samraan, Persian Moon, and The Trader.
Geoffrey Freer Stakes (14.25)
The Geoffrey Freer Stakes is a Group 3 race that is open to horses aged three and older and is run over 1 mile 5 furlongs and 61 yards. It was first run in 1949, since when it has been won by some classy types including winners of the St Leger and Ascot Gold Cup. Notable winners include Ardross, Moon Madness, Ibn Rey, Drum Taps, Shambo, Presenting, Silver Patriarch, Mubtaker, Sixties Icon, and Defoe. Algometer and Dai Harraild are the two to beat on ratings, though the improving Hamada looks sure to make a bold bid to notch-up a four-timer for Godolphin, who have won the race twice in the last decade.
Hungerford Stakes (15.35)
The Group 2 Hungerford Stakes is the highlight of this weekend’s action, and this seven-furlong race has been won by some crowd favourites since it began in 1949. Winners include Salse, Distant Relative, Inchinor, Decorated Hero, Lend A Hand, Reel Buddy, Paco Boy, Excelebration, and Lethal Force. Sir Dancelot could easily add his name to that list after taking the Group 2 Lennox Stakes last time. Meanwhile, former winner Breton Rock, D’Bai, Emmaus, Gustav Klimt, Librisa Breeze, and Oh This Is Us could all give David Elsworth’s four-year-old plenty to think about if at their best.
Ripon (Saturday 18 August)
Great St Wilfred Stakes
The Great St Wilfred Stakes is a competitive handicap run over six-furlongs. It was first run in 1986 and has been won by the likes of Pipalong, Markab, Pepper Lane Baccarat, and Mattmu. The race has produced some decent statistics in recent years, as the last eight winners have all carried between 8-9 and 9-1. Meanwhile, David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope have teamed up to win three of the last seven renewals, whilst Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton have teamed up to win two of the last five renewals. O’Meara has three possible runners for the 2018 Great St Wilfred Handicap, Al Qahwa, Intisaab, and Out Do. Meanwhile, Richard Fahey may call upon the likes of Growl, Eastern impact, Kimberella, and Brian The Snail.