The Mailbag: International Racing Previews

The Mailbag team are mounting yard and form analysts experts. Using a sectional times database, they are providing their best selections for the UK and International Racing Calendar.

Go where the value is for Racing and head to the Betfair Exchange.

R2 – Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) – 1600m

The past five runnings of this race has seen a Timeform rating higher than any runner has recorded to-date. This means we are looking for a horse that will improve onwards from the last start run.

Victor Ludorum has won by over 3 lengths on his two appearances to-date at Chantilly and Longchamp and today takes a step up to Group grade. Looks to have a load of ability but even so, has to improve again to win this as a short-priced favourite.

Armory is a well-developed colt who that well in Group 2 class at The Curragh two runs back before running into a potential superstar in Pinatubo last start in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. He comes into the race with the highest rating of any runner, but has gone backwards the past two starts ratings wise.

Ecrivain scored a good win last start at course and distance taking out the Group 3 Prix Des Chenes and is open to further improvement.

Kenway is the most interesting runner in the race. Kenway Showed massive improvement between runs at Vichy two back in Listed grade settling out the back before displaying an explosive turn of foot. Kenway then scored a Group 3 win last start at course over 1400m from last in running. This horse is strong through the line and will appreciate the distance increase. A more positive change of tactics could be the difference here as well.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Kenway (EW)

R4 – Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe – 2400m

Enable is looking to complete a hat-trick of Arc wins in the smallest field since 2007. Having won 12 races in a row, Enable was installed a short-priced favourite after the retirement of Crystal Ocean a few weeks back.

Enable made light work of Magical last start in the Yorkshire Oaks at York, recording her second-highest ever Timeform rating on that occasion. While her best form has been seen on dryer surfaces, she has consistently run ratings on all surface conditions to suggest she is the best racehorse in the world.

Some may feel Baden-Baden form is not strong enough to look for a contender to Enable here, but Ghaiyyath demolished a strong field by 14 lengths in Group 1 grade last start over in Germany recording a significant 139 Timeform rating which puts him right in this race. Fairly beaten in the Prix Ganay behind Waldgeist two runs back, we saw the real Ghaiyyath the run prior winning the Harcourt by well over a length. He has the ability and class over this distance to measure up.

Of the Aidan O’Brien runners, Japan is the runner with more upside and Ryan Moore has elected to take the ride rather than jumping back on the stablemate Magical, a horse he has ridden the past nine runs. Japan has scored two group one successes in a row including a win last start in the Juddmonte International over Crystal Ocean and King of Comedy. He looks to be the main horse in the race that is yet to show us his true potential.

The local hope resides well and truly in the progressive Group 1 winner Sottsass. A winner of the Prix Du Jockey Club back in June, Sottsass last start won the Prix Niel in impressive fashion and is a horse with more improvement to come.

No matter how you run the numbers, a contender to Enable will have to run a new career peak, or Enable will have to run below her last two ratings to not add a third Arc win to her name.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Enable (WIN)

R6 – Prix De L’abbaye De Longchamp Longines – 1000m

Battaash is in career-best form having run a 139 timeform rating last start at York scoring over the 1000m by nearly 4 lengths taking out the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes. His best runs have been reserved in the past for the 1000m distance and he handles any conditions.

Spinning Memories looks the main danger having won by 3.5 lengths in the Group 3 Prix De Meautry Barriere at Deauville recording a Timeform rating of 128. Also good when 4th the run prior in the Group 1 Larc Prix Maurice De Gheest.

Fairyland is booked on the next flight out to Australia to potentially compete in the The Everest if there is rain on the day. Fairyland scored a win in the Group 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at The Curragh last start over a handy field. Fairyland will handle the conditions today and looks to be another horse on the up currently.

Battaash could run lengths below his last start rating and most of the field would need to improve to beat him here. Of all the races on the day, I find this the hardest to bet around the favourite.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Battaash (WIN)

York Race 1 – Strensall Stakes Group 3

Forest Ranger is expected to lead them around here uncontested. He won a poor rating Group 2 race at Chester two back before failing last start at this course.

Wissahickon won a 33 horse Chambridgeshire Stakes at Newmarket last start on a similar surface. Since then he has come back well with three wins on the all-weather surface at Lingfield. If he brings his turf track form, he is the one to beat.

Zaaki failed at Goodowod last start but on the two previous starts, he measured up to the level required to win here after a second at Ascot behind Beat the Bank, beating home Suedois and Accidental Agent on that occasion.

Escobar is a horse on the up that appreciates the dry weather we are experiencing today. Most importantly, Escobar won at this course over 8 furlongs two runs back and has to be respected.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Back Wissahickon (WIN)

 BACK – Back Escobar (WIN)

York Race 2 – Melrose Handicap

Skymax couldn’t have been any more impressive last start in first-time blinkers at Newbury when winning a five-horse race by seven lengths. The query is back to a firmer track today.

Kiefer made strong progression when third at Ascot last start in the Plymouth Fruit Cup Handicap and will be in the finish again. Only query is the ground.

Hamish profiles with the most upside of any runners here being a lightly raced type. Was a beaten $1.64 favourite an obvious negative up in class again.

Ryan Moore jumps back aboard Eminence after a solid 3rd at Goodwood last start. Barrier has the horse in a nice enough spot and can be considered a live chance.

First In Line has won two in a row including a big six length win last start at Doncaster. Solid barrier, Frankie back on and the right stable.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – First in Line (WIN)

York Race 4 – Ebor Handicap

A 22 runner field has been assembled this year for another epic rendition of the Ebor Handicap. Last year, favourite Stratum drew a low draw and never saw daylight untested to the line.

Withhold ran a career peak last start to win well at Newbury and handles all surfaces. He bled when down under for the Melbourne Cup and was showing as much on the track as Marmelo before the Geelong Cup run. He enjoys a strong tempo and looks well suited from the barrier.

King’s Advice just keeps on finding a way to win. He toughed it out last start at Goodwood holding off Outbook in a position a lot of horses would simply throw in the towel. His heart takes him a long way in a race like this.

Mekong brings strong formlines with a Group 3 third behind Dee Ex Bee back in May and last start was beaten less than a head by Falcon Eight at Sandown Park. He continues to progress the right way.

Baghdad and Ben Vrackie were separated by a head at Ascot in June, but both horses have gone backwards since. Hard to suggest either of them here.

Desert Skyline has received a massive turnaround in the weights compared to the run at Newcastle in July. Looks a good roughie hope.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Withhold (WIN)

 BACK – Desert Skyline (WIN)

Goodwood Race 2 – 2800m – Qatar Summer Handicap

King’s Advice had his first run for the Mark Johnston stable in early March and has won 7 from 8 races since. In doing so, he produced a significant personal best last start at Newmarket winning well over this distance when held up for runs 500m out when others were off the bit. Can improve again.

Corgi has come back this year better than ever running two significantly strong races when third at York and fourth at Ascot last start in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. Last year, Corgi beat home First Eleven and Cross Counter in the King George when a close second to Baghdad. Expect Corgi to be in this finish.

Bartholomeu Dias makes the switch back to the turf for the first time since September 2018. Ran well for second in the Northumberland Plate last start at Newcastle and if the horse can replicate that form on turf, he figures here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Back King’s Advice (WIN)

 BACK – Back Corgi (WIN)

Goodwood Race 3 – 2800m – Langtry Stakes – Group 2

This race hasn’t been viewed as a target for Melbourne or Caulfield Cup runners in previous years, but due to the unique distance and the average required rating needed to win this race in the past, we could be seeing one of two of these runners in Australia later in the year.


Enbihaar is a lightly raced 4YO on the up with the Gosden yard coming into this race with a close win at Haydock in the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks over 2373m. Dug deep that day and turned the tables on Dramatic Queen from the defeat first up in Group 3 company over this distance. Open to further improvement but worse off at the weights.

Manuela De Vega steps back from Group 1 class after running fourth at Epsom in the Investec Oaks and fifth in the Irish Oaks at The Curragh last time out. She went backwards form wise after 6 weeks off last start and this looks like a real throw at the stumps by the stable.

Dramatic Queen meets Enbihaar again for the third time this preperation. She looked to be going the better through the line behind Enbihaar last start in the Lancashire Oaks and may be more likely to appreciate the step back up in distance. Weighted far better today than Enbihaar, so if Dramatic Queen can repeat the rating efforts of her last two starts, Enbihaar has to run to a new career peak to get past her.

The Aidan O’Brien stable presents three runners in this race and Ryan Moore takes the ride on the stables most likely chance, South Sea Pearl. Ignore the defeat two runs back behind Peach Tree when horribly held up at critical stages and rate the horse on the potential shown last start winning in Listed grade by three lengths. South Sea Pearl does need to go to another level today, but sneaks in well at the weights and looks a horse destined for big things.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Dramatic Queen (WIN)

 BACK – South Sea Pearl (WIN)

Goodwood Race 4 – 1200m – Stewards’ Cup (Heritage Handicap)

Gunmetal ran a very credible sixth last start at Ascot in the Wokingham Stakes beating home every other runner in his section of the track. Unfortunately, that was not the place to be all week down the straight and that has to be considered when betting here.

Khaadem has shown ability, most recently with a second in Group 3 company at Newbury in the Hackwood Stakes behind Waldpfad. He started $9.96 BSP in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup so it’s hard to believe a step back to handicap grade will see the horse at double figure odds.

Air Raid won nicely in the UK Scottish Stewards’ Cup Handicap at Hamilton Park last start and recorded a overall figure that has the horse well in here. The query is the ground today.

Open Wide is a big horse with a load of heart. In the Windsor Sprint Series Finale Handicap last start he was nosed out of a win by Show Stealer. His past three runs would all have him competitive in this grade of race.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Gunmetal (WIN)

 BACK – Khaadem (WIN)

 BACK – Open Wide (WIN)

Newmarket Race 6 – Darley July Cup Stakes – Group 1 – 1200m

Advertise got the job done last start in 3YO grade winning the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Ascot by a length and a half. Advertise has performed best in the past over this distance on a firm track and he finds conditions to suit. Frankie Dettori retains the ride adding confidence.

Limato was the horse to beat on firm ground in Group 1 class over 1200-1400m back in 2016 when winning this race. Last start in the Group 3 Criterion Stakes at course and distance he defied carrying the top weight in the race to win by a neck over Glorious Journey. In doing so, he recorded his highest rating in two years and comes right into this race as a live hope.

Brando stepped back in class at Hamilton last start to record a confidence inducing win. He rated higher last start than when placed second in this race last year. Expect him to be doing his best work late in the race.

Cape Byron takes a big step up in class after winning a 26-horse race at Ascot in the Wokingham Stakes as favourite. Will be settling on speed and travels strongly throughout the race.

Dream of Dreams ran a career peak rating at Ascot last start in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes beaten a head by Blue Point after settling out the rear and having to be ridden for luck between runners. The firm track and an expected strong tempo are key to Dream of Dreams chances here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Advertise (WIN)

 BACK – Limato (WIN)

Newmarket Race 2 – 3YO Handicap

Victory Command has the makings of a tough staying type that will appreciate the Newmarket course. Expected to lead them up, he will knuckle down for a battle like last start when winning at Hamilton. The handicapper may have his mark in this race is the only issue.

Motakhayyel is a lightly raced type fourth up today and up to the mile trip again today. Ran a respectable 2nd to an Ascot winner at Yarmouth and looks to have the ability to improve again here.

Bayroot was a well backed favourite last start at Nottingham when defeated by Honest Albert after a switch away from the all-weather surfaces. Finds a dryer surface but has a lot to still prove on the turf.

Honest Albert is still very well weighted after his win last start and this being only his third career start, he has more improvement to come against a field with exposed form lines. An on-speed type that produces a strong final furlong over this distance.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Honest Albert(WIN)

Newmarket Race 3 – Superlative Stakes – Group 2 for 2YOs – 1400m

Ropey Guest is the highest rated horse after settling last at Ascot over 1200m in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes. Held up for runs on that occasion, Ropey Guest will be closer to the leaders with significant less runners here and looks to be wanting the step back up to 1400m. Will start a big price solely off the $1000 BSP starting price last start.

Maxi Boy seemed to have every chance in the Coventry Stakes behind Ropey Guest but failed to finish off well enough in the final 200m when Ropey Guest just starting to get going. Will need a drastic change of tempo to figure in the finish based on the last run.

Wild Thunder won well at Goodwood in his maiden back in May and Buhturi who ran second that day has franked the form since with an easy win at Haydock. Looks a professional already as a 2YO and that will take him far up in distance and up in class.

Year of The Tiger won hands and heels last start at Naas by over 4 lengths on a slightly rain affected track and couldn’t have looked more impressive travelling strongly to the final furlong untouched. Struck interference when making his run at Ascot two runs back but was fairly beaten on that day before the run disappeared. Looks open to further improvement that’s needed to feature in the finish here. Ryan Moore takes the ride.

King’s Command fits the bill improvement wise for this type of race after scoring over 1200m at this course last month in similar conditions. That race in question lacked tempo and King’s Command was beaten off at the two-furlong marker, hitting $260 in-play as a result. McEvoy was able to pull him out and around the two horses that went past him and did his best work late getting up on the line. He will clearly appreciate the extra distance and a stronger tempo.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – King’s Command (WIN)

BACK – Ropey Guest (WIN)

Related Articles

Timeform: U.K. Shortlist

UK Racing Experts Timeform give their analysis on all the major international meets across the calendar year

Australian and British Racing Terminology

Racing Terms can be confusing. Know your stalls from your paddock? Or confused by a pulling sure thing? Don’t ...

Betfair Starting Price (BSP)

In 2016, the Betfair Starting Price (BSP or Betfair SP) was born. This revolutionary product allows back and lay ...