THE curtain comes down on another flat season at Doncaster tomorrow and I’m prepared to give old friend ZUIDER ZEE one more chance in the November Handicap (3.10pm) at 12/1 with Ladbrokes. John Gosden’s four-year-old may not be brilliantly handicapped but he is ultra-consistent, has won over course and distance and gets his ideal ground. I’ll also be having a few quid on MERCHANT OF DUBAI who has slipped to a winnable mark and looks each-way value at 25/1, again with Ladbrokes.
Churchill Downs stages the Breeders’ Cup this weekend and the Europeans look to hold particularly strong hands in both the ‘Mile’ and the ‘Turf’. All eyes will be on the wonder French mare Goldikova as she looks to land an historic fourth Breeders’ Cup Mile, but at 7/4 she isn’t value and doesn’t look as good as she was. I’m more interested in an each-way bet on fellow French raider BYWORD at 9/1. He’ll love the ground and will pick up the pieces with the likes of Gio Ponti if they go too fast.
Anyway, the action gets underway in Kentucky this evening and there are plenty of European hopes in action. John Gosden saddles Elusive Kate in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, but she looks short enough at 5/2 with Paddy Power from a tricky draw in trap 10. I like the look of STEPHANIE’S KITTEN at 12/1 with Ladbrokes as she was a Grade One winner last time over further and has her ideal conditions again.
Turbulent Descent has been extremely well-backed for the Filly & Mare Sprint, but I prefer the chances of SWITCH at 9/2 with William Hill. The four-year-old was second in this contest 12 months ago and looks sure to put up a bold attempt to go one better 12 months on.
The Europeans have had plenty of success over the years in the Filly & Mare Turf and former French-trained Stacelita is fancied to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ouija Board and Midday. However, I’m worried about the fast ground with all the European raiders and prefer the chance of fast ground specialist DUBAWI HEIGHTS at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tomorrow’s action kicks-off with the Marathon (5.20pm) and I fancy A.U. MINER at around 5.5 on Betdaq to go a couple of places better than last year. JACKSON BEND looks capable of upsetting Big Drama in the Dirt Sprint at 6/1 with Ladbrokes. He has only raced over seven furlongs or less in five of his career starts and he has been victorious on all five occasions.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf looks a race to watch rather than bet in and I personally cannot separate Sea Moon and Await The Dawn. The Europeans are responsible for the first five in the betting and it looks a race to savour.
UNION RAGS really impressed me when winning at Belmont last time and will be very hard to beat at 9/4 in the Juvenile. As for the Classic, the richest race over the two days, your guess is as good as mine. Follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile and I’ll post a selection tomorrow night.
STEPHANIE’S KITTEN e/w 8.50pm Churchill Downs (tonight)
SWITCH 9.30pm Churchill Downs (tonight)
DUBAWI HEIGHTS e/w 10.50pm Churchill Downs (tonight)
ZUIDER ZEE e/w 3.10pm Doncaster (Sat)
MERCHANT OF DUBAI e/w 3.10pm Doncaster (Sat)
A.U. MINER Churchill Downs (Sat)
JACKSON BEND e/w 6.37pm Churchill Downs (Sat)
UNION RAGS 9.25pm Churchill Downs (Sat)
BYWORD e/w 10.07pm Churchill Downs (Sat)