Alex Hammond tips up the Curragh, Newbury and Ripon this weekend
Alex Hammond likes Riposte in the Irish Oaks and prepares for her latest tipping challenge.
Last Updated: 18/07/13 4:27pm
Eight fillies have been declared and they include the Epsom Oaks winner Talent, although her trainer Ralph Beckett won't be doubly represented as Secret Gesture has suffered a knock and won't be in the line up.
Talent was the surprise winner of the Epsom Classic with Richard Hughes in the saddle, but stable jockey Jim Crowley (who rode the 2nd there) gets back on board in this. After the win Beckett said that she isn't as smart a home worker as Secret Gesture but she clearly saves plenty for the track.
I'm going to oppose her with Lady Jane Cecil's Ribblesdale winner Riposte who was supplemented for this race at the start of this week. She was having just her third start at Ascot and stepping into Group 2 company from her maiden win, but she couldn't have been any more impressive and given that potential and with a blue-blooded pedigree (she is closely related to Frankel's dam Kind) she should handle the further step up in grade.
Tommy Stack's Alive Alive Oh was taken out of the Ribblesdale on account of the quick ground and I can't see the ground conditions being to her liking here. Aidan O'Brien has a good record with three previous winners and this year relies on Venus De Milo (Seamie Heffernan), Just Pretending (Joseph O'Brien) and Magical Dream (Michael Hussey).
Under normal circumstances you would think that Joseph's mount would be the first string, but Heffernan has struck up a good relationship with his filly and has been on board for both her starts which were winning ones. She was also supplemented for the race. Just Pretending was clear second best in the Ribblesdale and there is no reason she should reverse that form.
Johnny Murtagh has been snapped up by Alain de Royer-Dupre for French raider Chicquita and she could be one for the shortlist after her good run to be second in the French Oaks last time out. That was only her third start (she fell on her second) and she should have benefitted for the experience. The Jim Bolger-trained Scintillula completes the line-up.
At Newbury the feature is the Weatherbys Super Sprint, usually a race trainer Richard Hannon farms. He has saddled seven previous winners in the five-furlong 'Sales Race', all incidentally ridden by different jockeys.
It's normally fairly safe to follow the mounts of son-in-law and current champion Richard Hughes or former champion Ryan Moore, but the way this race is framed the cheaper the purchase at the sales, the lighter the weight the horse carries (not taking into account possible penalties for wins in certain races). So more often than not, the more regular jockeys struggle with the weight.
This year could be a case in point as Lillbourne Lass carries just 8st 1lbs. As a result lightweight jockey Jimmy Quinn takes the ride on this recent Bath winner who gets in without any penalties. Stall 1 isn't ideal, but Hannon has had winners of this race from that gate position before, so it's not a write-off. Richard Hughes rides Biography (8.10).
Richard Fahey has a very strong hand too. Whilst Hannon saddles three runners, Fahey has five. Peniaphobia (think we all suffer a bit from this!) with former stable jockey Paul Hanagan on board looks the pick. The horse didn't run at Royal Ascot (where he would have been penalised for a win) and instead went to Thirsk for more experience. This is an incredibly valuable prize and that looks like a smart move.
Fahey has as strong a team of two-year-olds as he's ever had and this horse has a fairly middle draw (10) so should be able to go with the pace. Also drawn fairly central (13) is another of his runners, Eccleston. He has only had the two starts and was well beaten in the Norfolk last time out. That didn't look like his true running though and he could bounce back with a light weight here.
Fellow Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan has four runners with Morning Pearl, Proclamationofwar, Yorkshire Relish and Oasis Town.
Alutiq could be one to follow for Eve Johnson Houghton. She ran a creditable seventh in the Queen Mary and she is held in high regard. She only has 8st to carry which looks very attractive.
She runs for Qatar Racing and Cathy Gannon rides. She also looks well drawn in 18 and I think she can run well.
Saturday also sees the start of the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival. The eight-day festival gets underway at Ripon and I'm pleased to say that Sky Bet are aiming to raise another substantial sum for charity during that period.
I'm part of a so-called "Magnificent Seven" who will be pitting our wits against each other all in the name of a good cause! Although I was lucky enough to win this tipping competition in the past I fear I'm up against some excellent tipsters and I'm not sure I share Sky Bet's confidence in me.
The rest of motley crew are made up of Ed Chamberlin, top trainer Richard Fahey, award-winning journalist Tom O'Ryan (who has plenty of time to study the formbook as he recuperates from an accident), Channel 4's top tipster Jim McGrath, with SportingLife.com editor Dave Ord and Sky Bet's Racing PR Manager Michael Shinners completing the septet.
The daily selections for each tipster will appear on SkyBet.com, SportingLife.com and skysports.com, while a leaderboard will be available at www.skybet.com/ruk.
The Festival fixtures are:
Saturday July 20 - Ripon
Sunday July 21 - Redcar
Monday July 22 - Beverley (evening)
Wednesday July 24 - Catterick
Thursday July 25 - Doncaster (evening)
Friday July 26 - Thirsk, York (evening)
Saturday July 27 - York
Sunda, July 28 - Pontefract
Sky Bet are giving us £50 each day to bet on any race at the Go Racing in Yorkshire Summer Festival, with any profits added together and shared equally between three charities - New Beginnings, the Injured Jockeys Fund and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
One thing you can be sure of, more thought will be given to these tips than almost any others and there should be some fun and hopefully lots of money raised along the way!
In addition to the fierce competition there is plenty to enjoy over the week, lots of racing with live music, entertainment, competitions, a stable visit (Richard Fahey on Thursday, July 25) and a racecourse open day (at Wetherby on Tuesday July 23) - get involved.
Right, I'm off to study the form for Ripon on Saturday which will also be my Sky Sports News Tip of the Day, wish me luck!
Riposte in the Irish Oaks @ 5/2 with Sky Bet
Alutiq in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury