Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips: Aidan O’Brien’s Futurity dominance can continue

27 October 2023

Aidan O’Brien will bid for his 12th victory in the Futurity Trophy this Saturday. Quite frankly, his dominance in Doncaster’s end-of-season Group 1 is unparalleled. Is that surprising? I guess not given the two-year-old contingent at Ballydoyle year-on-year.

His representatives this year are Battle Cry and Diego Velazquez, who will each look to follow in the hoofprints of great equine talents like High Chaparral (2001), St Nicholas Abbey (2009) and Camelot (2011). It’s also worthwhile mentioning that he won this race 12 months ago with Auguste Rodin, who went on to win the Derby earlier this season.

The team at Coolmore will be hoping that Diego Velazquez takes the next step in his development by winning this race and I’m inclined to agree. This 2,400,000gns purchase is an incredible physical specimen and is crucially beginning to prove that he’s fast. After a debut romp at the Curragh, he showcased a high cruising speed and some tenacity to beat stable companion Capulet when he secured his first Group victory at Leopardstown last month.

Perhaps the manner of that success wasn’t as impressive as many would have expected (he was sent off 8/15 favourite), but I liked how he continued to find under pressure on his first try at a mile and that he improved significantly on his debut run. Given he’s a son of Frankel out of a mare whose progeny includes Broome and Point Lonsdale, longer trips will be on the menu next season.

The Futurity is another step up the class ladder and he will have to beat a talented rival in the shape of Ancient Wisdom, who was very impressive in the Autumn Stakes a couple of weeks ago, but he’s the one horse in this event who could become a proper Derby contender if victorious.

Ryan Moore, who isn’t riding this weekend due to suspension, has said this horse has ‘a big engine’. He must be getting a little better at his PR duties!

It will be a long wait until my other Doncaster selection runs as I like Deputy in the closing Scott Dobson Memorial Handicap (5.05) for Michael Dods and Graham Lee. 

Late October is far from primetime for flat horses, but this has undoubtedly been Deputy’s target all year long. That’s because his best efforts have come at Doncaster on soft ground, as proven by his runner-up finish in this event in 2021 and victory here in 2022. That latest success came off a mark of 73, and he’s just 1lb higher as he looks to retain his crown on Saturday afternoon.

Deputy has only run four times this term. Two of those came in the spring when we had terrible weather and deep ground, while the last couple were at Ayr after mini breaks. We didn’t see him at his best at the Scottish track on either occasion, but I’m convinced that the latter contest was solely used as a prep race for this weekend’s D-Day.

He will need to be at his best to get the job done, but he’s handicapped to go close and should handle conditions far better than most.

Despite preferring flat racing, it would be folly to completely ignore Cheltenham’s offering this weekend as there are a number of classy performers on show. Punting on the jumps is fraught with danger at this time of year with changing ground and summer absences to add to the usual puzzle, but I do like the claims of Lord Accord in the 3m1f handicap chase (2.25) early on Saturday’s card. 

Neil Mulholland’s eight-year-old won this race 12 months ago off a 1lb lower mark after having a spin over hurdles to warm up and he’s been given a very similar preparation this time around. Although far from fully tuned up, he actually ran respectably when fourth over the smaller obstacles 23 days ago and should now be fighting fit to do himself justice.

 With Dan Skelton taking out talented mare Galia Des Liteaux at the 48-hour stage, the opposition looks easier for Lord Accord and I expect him to be ridden with similar aggression as when he won this last term. He’s a sound jumper and can quicken nicely on this kind of ground, so hopefully he can put his rivals to the sword coming down the hill and make his fitness tell late in the day.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

Diego Velazquez (2.10 Doncaster) @ 2/1
Lord Accord (2.25 Cheltenham) @ 5/1
Deputy (4.58 Doncaster) @ 11/1

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