Flying Frankie has best of both worlds as stars clash in September spectacular
The day in a nutshell
There are eight meetings across Britain and Ireland on another busy Saturday, but all eyes will be on two very different races being staged some 200 miles apart.
Those of us attending either Kempton or Haydock will have to content ourselves with watching the other meeting on television, but not Frankie Dettori.
Dettori has hired a helicopter to ensure that after belatedly resuming last year's fabulous partnership with the brilliant Enable, when she takes on King George second Crystal Ocean in Kempton's 188Bet September Stakes, he can be on Merseyside in time to maintain his association with last month's Prix Maurice de Gheest runner-up James Garfield when he tackles last year's winner Harry Angel in the £300,000 32Red Sprint Cup.
There are also Group 3s at Haydock and Kempton, while those who prefer a good handicap are also well catered for, with £100,000 races for three-year-olds over a mile and three-quarters at Haydock and a mile and a half at Ascot, and others worth £70,000 and £60,000 at both those courses and also at Kempton.
With further Flat meetings at Thirsk, Wolverhampton and Navan, plus jumping at Stratford and Wexford, it promises to be quite a day.
Going on the side of the Angel
There's nowhere quite like Haydock for dramatic going changes. It's been good to firm at the course pretty much all summer, including at the last meeting a month ago, but since Thursday morning's good, good to soft in places was changed to plain good to soft it seems to have deteriorated rapidly.
On Friday morning it was soft, heavy in places, even though the GoingStick reading had shifted only from 7.3 to 6.9 according to the TurfTrax archive, and you might remember a similar scenario 12 months ago, when the Sprint Cup was run on ground officially heavy. With another wet day forecast for the Merseyside track, clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright said there was "every chance" the going would be heavy for the course's biggest Flat card of the year.
At the time it was a huge worry for fans of Harry Angel, who had broken the track record on quick ground at Haydock earlier in the year, but not any more, for Clive Cox's colt confirmed himself as versatile as he is classy by blitzing a strong field just as impressively.
It's great to have him back after the stalls injury that cost him any chance at Royal Ascot, and many punters will expect a repeat win in the 32Red Sprint Cup (4.15), despite the claims of rivals including Sir Dancealot and James Garfield.
If successful he will be the race's first dual winner since Sir Peter O'Sullevan's Be Friendly took the first two runnings more than 50 years ago.
Here he comes again
No horse will appreciate Haydock's testing ground more than Here Comes When in the Unibet Mile (2.25). Just cast your mind back to not so Glorious Goodwood last year, when some 50mm of rain made Sussex Stakes day such a miserable experience.
Ribchester had been the summer's dominant miler and was sent off at 8-13, but his backers were reckoning without Here Comes When and his penchant for deep ground. A 20-1 chance, despite significant support once the rain arrived, he got the better of Ribchester by a neck.
Spectacular September often the case
Niche timing, perfectly positioned ahead of the major autumn prizes, along with the guarantee of a forgiving surface, means that the 188Bet September Stakes (2.05) has often punched above its weight.
Jack Hobbs had won the Irish Derby barely two months earlier when he scored in 2015, while Prince Bishop had a Dubai World Cup win ahead of him when he won for a second time the year before, but not since Shernazar beat Derby winner Slip Anchor 33 years ago on the old turf course have we seen a renewal anything like today's.
It pitches last year's five-time Group 1 winner Enable, absent from the racecourse since her stunning win in the Arc, and the King George runner-up Crystal Ocean, yet another late developer off Sir Michael Stoute's unrivalled conveyor belt, in a fascinating clash that could very easily go either way despite the weights heavily favouring the filly.
Man of the moment
Opportunity knocks for David Probert when he partners gallant Crystal Ocean for Sir Michael Stoute in the September Stakes.
Probert is a more regular rider for Stoute than many might appreciate, for while his ten winners for the stable from 50 rides pales when set against well over 300 for his mentor Andrew Balding he has bettered that total for only a dozen or so other trainers.
An association with 2,000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win has given Probert a taste for the big time, but here on Crystal Ocean he has a great opportunity to show off his talents on a middle-distance performer who is plainly right out of the top drawer, albeit in a Group 3.
Conceding Enable 8lb will be tough, but his King George second to stablemate Poet's Word marked yet another significant step forward, and he has proven race fitness on his side.
Honeypot at Kempton
Simon Crisford's Honey Man booked his place in Kempton's 188Bet Extra Place Races 'London Mile' Final (3.15) by winning a qualifier over course and distance last month, and he is clear favourite to follow up in a race that will have all-weather fans licking their lips in anticipation.
Silvestre de Sousa, Crisford's regular go-to rider and enjoying another phenomenal season, was on board for that win and an earlier success at Chelmsford, and he maintains the partnership. A middle draw in stall eight offers him plenty of options.
Godolphin's Ghost looks one to watch
Godolphin have assembled a powerful team of Melbourne Cup possibles this year, and in 12 months' time it will be no surprise if last month's Melrose winner Ghostwatch is making the same trip.
Ghostwatch looked good at York, and that marked another significant step forward. Ascot's Lavazza Handicap (3.55) has all the strength in depth you would hope for in a £100,000 race and Ghostwatch faces a tougher task off top weight and a 6lb higher mark, but he is a three-year-old very much on the up.
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