Neil Morrice brings us all of his best bets and tips for Saturday’s international racing coming your way from Dundalk, Chepstow, Ascot, and Catterick, including the Bahrain International Trophy!
THE BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL TROPHY
(1m 2f three-year-olds and up)
The second running of a race that’s been warmly welcomed onto the International stage sees a significant rise in quality, with five Group 1 winners headed by Japan’s globetrotting mare DEIRDRE on what will be her career swan song under Hollie Doyle.
Ballydoyle enters the fray with its first runner in the Kingdom by supplementing last year’s Irish Derby hero SOVEREIGN, while the Group 1 quintet is completed by dual Canadian International winner DESERT ENCOUNTER; Godolphin’s DREAM CASTLE and the David O’Meara-trained LORD GLITTERS.
The latter makes plenty of appeal, even though 2020 has so far proved a barren one for the grey. Winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot two years ago, he’s contested a host of top-level races including a narrow defeat by Addeybb in the Doonside Cup, though he wasn’t able to contain CERTAIN LAD in a Group 3 at York in August. On more than one occasion he’s looked like a longer trip should prove the order of the day.
The £500,000 contest at the Sakhir racetrack has also attracted Andrew Balding’s BANGKOK and the John Gosden-trained GLOBAL GIANT, together with all the top British-based riders comprising Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore, William Buick, Andrea Atzeni, Oisin Murphy, Silvestre De Sousa, and Danny Tudhope.
Tudhope observed Lord Glitters: “He’s been in great form all year and hasn’t put a foot wrong. He’s not won, but it looks like a mile and a quarter might be his best trip. It was a mile and a quarter behind Addeybb at Ayr and the form stacks up. We think he’s still got it. The track looks like it will play to his strengths. Last year’s winner came from the back and he has to be ridden that way. He takes a bit of winding up nowadays, so the extra two furlongs is going to help him.”
Classic winner SOVEREIGN goes into battle off a select campaign comprising just four starts through the summer and autumn. His best effort was in hunting up Enable in the King George at Ascot in late July, and he remains a colt with scope for progression.
GLOBAL GIANT has started favourite for each of his four races since joining Gosden at the start of the year. Winner of a minor contest at Wolverhampton and a Listed race at Newbury, he’s having a first outing since placing in a Haydock Group 3 back in early August.
Six-year-old mare DEIRDRE created history when taking out the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last year but hasn’t looked the same force in three starts through the summer and autumn. However, she is closely matched with PORT LIONS on Riyadh Saudi Cup form from back in February.
Port Lions is very much the local hope for trainer Fawzi Nass and looks to have progressed since his move to Bahrain from Ireland, where he won a handicap and conditions race last year.
DESERT ENCOUNTER rattled-off four straight wins for David Simcock at the end of last year, and although unable to add to that this season, has put in a number of solid placed efforts that make him of interest for all exotics.
Oisin Murphy’s Mount DREAM CASTLE enjoyed a sparkling run of success at the 2019 Dubai Carnival but then lost his way before regaining his momentum this year. He belied odds of 25-1 by chasing home Lady Wannabe in a Group 3 at Newmarket last month.
Mick Channon’s CERTAIN LAD is another that could easily take home a cheque as a live outsider with genuine claims. His midfield finish in the Cambridgeshire is hard to equate against his previous good runs in Group 3s, and in Ben Curtis he has a top pilot that has won twice on him previously.
1st LORD GLITTERS
2nd Desert Encounter
4th Certain Lad
5th Dream Castle
Race 1: No12 – RATIB (Nap)
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien – Jockey: Declan McDonagh
Frankel colt RATIB was only just out of the money on his introduction over course and distance and now has a good draw from which to build on that promising effort. He should have learned plenty, and looks a worthy favourite, although market checks are advised for newcomers Social Distance and Kasansay.
Race 4: No5 – EDIYVA
Trainer: Michael Halford – Jockey: Ronan Whelan
There are some hardened performers taking on EDIYVA in this feature, but the Kingman filly is capable of further raising her game following a clear cut win on her first try on Polytrack earlier in the month. She enjoys what should prove to be a good draw, and has more scope than hat-trick seeking Pulse of Shanghai and ultra-consistent Acquiescent, who nevertheless appear as dangerous foes.
Race 7: No12 – MORRONE
Trainer: Eddie Lynam – Jockey: Chris Hayes
Any support for MORRONE would be of interest in this sprint handicap. The Camacho filly hasn’t shown much in four starts to date but was nibbled at in the market on handicap debut at the Curragh. She returns from a three month break and is moving onto the Poly for the first time in public.
Race 8: No6 – FRIDTJOF NANSEN
Trainer: K Cotter – Jockey: Declan McDonagh
Commentators’ nightmare FRIDTJOF NANDEN could be the answer to the nightcap. The Kyllachy gelding runs off the same mark as when second here the other day, when a wide draw didn’t help his cause. Furthermore, he’s stepping back a furlong on the distance ladder, which should prove a boon.
Race 1: No1 – CHANTRY HOUSE
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Henderson has a magnificent record at this meeting and is poised for a bumper haul on Day 1, with CHANTRY HOUSE setting the ball rolling on chase debut. The six-year-old is in the top echelon of novices at Seven Barrows as a winner of three of his four starts in bumpers and novice hurdles, as well as a creditable third placing in the Supreme Novices’ at the Cheltenham Festival. However, he looks every inch a chaser and can put down an early marker for the Arkle.
Race 2: No5 – TIME FLIES BY
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Nico de Boinville
In the same colours of JP McManus, TIME FLIES BY brings the best bumper and hurdles form to the table and can endorse the promise shown last season. The Cheltenham bumper winner ran well in a couple of Grade 2 hurdles and is too good to remain a maiden over jumps for long.
Race 3: No1 – GIPSY DE CHOISEL (Nap)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Daryl Jacob
French import GIPSY DE CHOISEL might only have scraped home on his only previous outing at Auteuil, but the four-year-old has taken well to life in Lambourn and makes his debut under Rules with a lofty reputation. He’s up against a good yardstick in Newton Abbot novice hurdle scorer Metier but should be more than up to the task at hand.
Race 4: No3 – COUNT MERIBEL (Each Way)
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies – Jockey: Mark Grant
Soft ground holds no perils for COUNT MERIBEL, who after a sparse 2019/20 season is ready to make up for lost time. The former classy novice chaser got within a shade over two lengths of Lostintranslation at Carlisle a year ago, but after finishing just out of the money in the PaddyPower Gold Cup endured training issues. He returns from a 300-day absence, but with his stable finding the winners a big run is expected.
Race 5: No9 – EDDIEMAURICE (Each Way)
Trainer: John Flint – Jockey: Jack Tudor
A winner over fences at this course before reverting to hurdling last season, EDDIEMAURICE should have been sharpened-up by a run on the Flat at Newbury. He showed nothing on that occasion but this strong traveller can bounce back and get into the shake-up at a juicy price.
Race 2: No3 – I CAN’T EXPLAIN (Nap)
Trainer: Kim Bailey – Jockey: Cieran Gethings
The most interesting horse in this intermediate chase is I CAN’T EXPLAIN, who never quite transferred his level of ability shown on the gallops to the racecourse, had problems, and now surfaces for a new trainer. The former Irish point winner looked to have the world at his feet when landing a Sandown novice two years ago but now returns from a 650-day absence, having displayed much of his panache in training and on the schooling ground.
Race 4: No7 – CYCLOP
Trainer: Tom Symonds – Jockey: Lilly Pinchin
CYCLOP created a good impression when bolting up under today’s rider in a conditional jockeys’ handicap chase at this course, after which connections resisted the temptation to go for a quick follow-up. It’s still only a couple of weeks since that triumph, one that should be repeated if the nine-year-old turns up in the same form.
Race 7: No3 – MERE ANARCHY (Each Way)
Trainer: Robert Stephens – Jockey: Sean Houlihan
MERE ANARCHY ran into a handicap snip when chasing home Main Fact at Newbury. That very encouraging run on the Flat should have blown away any cobwebs for this return to jumping. An infrequent winner in the National Hunt arena, the selection often gets into the money, and having landed a handicap at Salisbury in late summer at least has recent experience of that ‘winning feeling’.
Race 5: No3 – STORMIN NORMAN
Trainer: Micky Hammond – Jockey: Miss Becky Smith
STORMIN NORMAN has proved a real money-spinner for connection with successive wins on the Flat at Musselburgh and this course, followed by a snug maiden hurdle success at Sedgefield. He gets on especially well with his pilot, is open to further improvement, and can defy a penalty.
Race 7: No11 – THE BOMBER LISTON (Nap)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: Aidan Coleman
Henderson is a rare visitor to this northern country track and from his runners there today THE BOMBER LISTON can prove to be the pick. Named after heavyweight champion of the sixties Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston, the Yeats gelding was expected to deliver at the first time of asking in a bumper at Ffos Las, only to compromise his chance by running green. He should have learned sufficient to take out this almost identical contest.