I have to confess that only about 25 per cent of my own betting is done on UK racing and every day I take a good look through international cards – I think they often give us a better value much of the time – so expect plenty of international picks in this weekly Thursday column.
11.40 Maisons-Laffitte – Fancy Dresser: It is a pretty weak card at Maison-Laffitte (including four claimers) but Fancy Dresser in the opening two-year-old claiming contest caught my eye. He represents the Royal Ascot “Different League” winning team of Theresa Marnane, Matthieu Palussiere and Antoine Hamelin, who have a great record in claimers. Fancy Dresser won on his only previous visit to Maison-Laffitte, both his career wins have come over 6f and he is the only colt in a field completed by six fillies. His last run is a throw away as he did not stay the 7f.
__ 3.05 Sandown – Cape Bunting__: This daughter of Cape Cross is a perfect two for two for trainer Mark Johnston, with both of her wins coming over this specialist 7f distance. She is stepping up into Listed competition for the first time but she appears more progressive than some of her rivals and given that her half-brother is Buratino, the Coventry Stakes and Woodcote winner, she is bred to be a good two-year-old. William Buick comes in for the ride and while they will have to work out a trip from a wide draw, Buick did ride Mark Johnston’s previous winner of this race, Fireglow in 2015, when breaking from the outside stall. Cape Bunting may go off favorite, but favorites have won the race for the past three years.
7:20 Doncaster – Marseille: This daughter of Excelebration is a half-sister to the brilliant Group One winning sprinter Marsha, and is making only her second turf start after running a hampered second here at Doncaster over 5½f last time out. She stayed on well that day, so stepping back up to 6f for the first time since her debut should suit, as will the drop into an arguably weaker race.
9:24 Saratoga – #2 Tom’s D’Etat: Saratoga is the premier summer meeting on the East Coast of America and as such has incredibly strong pools so it always worth comparing the US tote pools (into which many bookmakers will allow you to wager) against the fixed-odds prices. The American morning line price of 5-2 on #2 Tom’s D’Etat is a square price for this only previous course and distance winner in the field. Previous solid Saratoga form is always a significant angle to follow when handicapping “The Spa”. This son of Smart Strike, trained by Breeders’ Cup Classic winning trainer Al Stall Jr, comes here in good form after an impressive win at Churchill Downs last time.