Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips: Appleby is ready to make his mark with his two-year-olds

By Tom Collins

31 August 2023

The form of certain trainers is constantly under scrutiny. In fact, I’m struggling to count the amount of times I’ve heard that Charlie Appleby has fallen below expectations this year.

Rare blanks at Royal Ascot and York’s Ebor Festival, major disappointment in the Epsom Derby with Military Order, and lacklustre displays from older horses like Adayar, Hurricane Lane and Al Suhail have all played their part and apparently burst what seemed to be an impenetrable bubble on the way to the moon. There is some truth to the narrative and I’m sure that Appleby would have wanted to emulate last season, but that’s not been the case.

Although his stablestars have failed to deliver, there is always another crop of well-bred horses around the corner thanks to Godolphin’s immense breeding operation. Martin Luther King Jr once said ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’, and I’m sure that the Moulton Paddocks trainer will be dreaming big with his lightly raced two-year-olds.

There is a high possibility that Appleby will unearth some juvenile gems in the next month or so given a lot of his young equine talents reportedly need seven furlongs or a mile, and I’m hopeful that we will see one in the Solario Stakes (3.38 Sandown) on Saturday in the form of Aablan.

Precociously bred by Dubawi out of 2015 Rockfel winner Promising Run, Aablan was the recipient of strong market support ahead of his debut in a novice event at Newmarket that Appleby has targeted with some highly promising types that includes 2021 winner Modern Games. The race didn’t go exactly to plan as he was without cover for most, but that didn’t stop Aablan justifying favouritism.

Despite not getting the perfect trip into the event, Aablan never traded higher than his starting price of 4/7 and he eventually crossed the line half-a-length in front of nearest rivals Whiskey Pete and Magsood, who finished third and first respectively on their next starts. Both of those horses are worthy of marks in the high 80s/low 90s, so the form looks reasonably strong.

Aablan is bred to stay further, but this seven-furlong distance is clearly suitable at this point of his career and it is likely that the topography of Sandown will suit him better than the July course. Given it’s not the best renewal of the Solario, I like Aablan to extend his winning record and provide Appleby with infinite hope for the future.

Ralph Beckett is at the opposite end of the form table with a 31% strike-rate over the last two weeks thanks to 15 individual winners. I normally like to back his two-year-olds at Kempton around September/October time, so the fact he has been so prolific of late is slightly off-putting!

However, I’m going to try to jump aboard the unstoppable train this week as I fancy Classical Song to make it second-time lucky in the fillies’ maiden (4.10 Sandown) under Ryan Moore.

This Doreen Tabor-owned daughter of Lope De Vega made substantial late inroads at Goodwood on debut and only found subsequent Group 2 Prix du Calvados runner-up Ornellaia too strong.

Cut underfoot didn’t seem to bother her that day so further rain would be fine, but I’m equally interested in her if the predicted dry spell on Friday and Saturday came to fruition as her damsire is Noverre, who won the 2001 Sussex Stakes on quick ground and produced a load of fast ground horses when he was at stud.

Godolphin filly Beautiful Snow and Brian Meehan’s Extraordinaire are perhaps the biggest dangers, but Classical Song looks to have been found a perfectly winnable spot.

Finally, I’m going to have a few quid on Lord Bertie in the Contact Company Handicap (1.35 Chester) as he looks a potential Group horse who is able to run off a mark of just 95.

This already gelded son of Wootton Bassett finished third behind subsequent 2,000 Guineas winner Chaldean on debut last year in a race that has produced eight winners, which also includes 2022 Solario Stakes winner Silver Knott (fourth). Unsurprisingly, he made it second-time lucky in a pretty torrid novice event at Ffos Las just 18 days later.

But it was his return at Thirsk off a long layoff this year that really caught my eye. Not only did he get punted off the boards beforehand into 4/9 favouritism, but he powered clear to achieve a Racing Post Rating of 101 without being asked for maximum effort.

He has drawn gate one, which is ideal, and should handle the tight turns at Chester without a worry. Just to add to the confidence, William Haggas has a 25% strike-rate with his three-year-olds at Chester in the last five years, and he’s better at placing his young horses than anyone in the country.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

Lord Bertie (1.35 Chester) @ 5/2
Aablan (3.38 Sandown) @ 4/1
Classical Song (4.10 Sandown) @ SP

Where SP is listed, prices were not available at the time of writing on Thursday, August 31. Click the links to see current odds.

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