'He was a massive eyecatcher' - Tom and Robbie on the day's Group 1 action
Welcome to the Punting Club! Unlike most clubs there's no joining fee or annual charge, and the only criterion for being part of the gang is simple: an appreciation for big-race punting and an enthusiasm for chewing over the key talking points.
Every Friday we – that's Punt regulars Tom Collins, Maddy Playle and Robbie Wilders (Punting Club membership numbers #1, #2 and #3) – will answer your questions on the weekend's racing action, share our best bets . . . and ruthlessly highlight the flaws in each other's arguments. Maddy is away this week.
You can submit your questions via this link each week, but read on to see what we have to say this week . . .
Has Mojo Star any chance of confirming the Derby placings with Hurricane Lane in the St Leger (3.35 Doncaster)? Colin Birley
Robbie Definitely. I worry about the trip for Hurricane Lane as he has plenty of speed and the extra two and a half furlongs might find him out. Mojo Star isn't guaranteed to get it either as there isn't much stamina in his pedigree. I prefer the Galileo colts The Mediterranean and Interpretation at bigger prices. Both have improved their RPR with each run and shape as if they will appreciate 1m6½f.
Tom I don't think so. Hurricane Lane lost both shoes in the Derby and was unsuited by the track, so there were reasons why he perhaps didn't fire on all cylinders at Epsom. Saying that, he's a short-enough price and although I'm sure he's the most likely winner, I'd rather bet Sir Lucan each-way. He was pace compromised in the Gordon Stakes and Great Voltigeur and should relish a faster gallop and quiet ride from James Doyle. 16-1 is too big.
The Irish Champion Stakes (2.45 Leopardstown) is always a great race and this year's is superb, I've backed Tarnawa for the Arc and think she will run a massive race on Saturday. What are your views, panel? Lee Wainwright
Robbie I have also backed Tarnawa ante-post for the Arc and completely agree. There isn't much between her and St Mark's Basilica in this but with a bit of ease in the ground I would marginally favour her. St Mark's Basilica probably hasn't had the ideal preparation for this race either and I think there's too much between them in the betting.
Tom Not a betting race for me but it's going to be some spectacle. I'd rather back Tarnawa in the Arc than in the Irish Champion (bigger field would suit her better) and consequently I wouldn't be opposing St Mark's Basilica, who was supreme in the Coral-Eclipse in a similarly-tactical affair. He is the top-rated horse in the world, after all.
What is your best bet of the weekend? And is the Irish Champion Stakes the best and most competitive race of the weekend? Fintan Finnegan
Robbie The Irish Champion Stakes is definitely the best race of the weekend. Three of the stars of the season lock horns, but the best bet comes in the Paddy Power Stakes (3.15 Leopardstown) on Saturday. Innisfree was a massive eyecatcher on his return in the Royal Whip and I expect him to reverse form with Earlswood with that run behind him. There should be much more to come stepped up to 1m4f and he can repay the faith of connections to keep him in training after such a long time off.
Tom I agree with Robbie about the brilliance of the Irish Champion Stakes. Who needs a big field when you have four top-class horses competing for a coveted Group 1 prize? I'll be pretty quiet on the punting front, especially given it's a down week in the US, but Lusail is the Saturday banker in the Champagne Stakes (2.20 Doncaster). I loved the way he hit the line in the Gimcrack and further improvement is likely as he steps back up to 7f.
The Flying Five on Sunday (2.55 Curragh) looks a corker with Glass Slippers, Dragon Symbol and Winter Power making the trip over, who wins? Joshua Brown
Robbie On the face of it the Brits have the edge, but these sprints often throw up surprising results and if the form horses underperform Romantic Proposal could pick up the pieces at around 18-1. Eddie Lynam is a brilliant trainer of sprinters and there's definitely a big pot in this filly, who should get the strong pace she relishes and I'm sure she'll be hitting the line hard. A couple of firms are playing four places and that suits me.
Tom Romantic Proposal certainly has a squeak at a big price – she was my second choice in the race. I eventually sided with Glass Slippers, who has had a similar preparation coming into the Flying Five as last year. This race and the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint will have been her seasonal targets.
Love has lost her invincibility factor this season, will she bounce back in the Blandford Stakes (2.20 Curragh) on Sunday? Liam Beanie Smith
Robbie She has but finishing third to two of the best horses around in Adayar and Mishriff in proper Group 1s is no mean feat. She is very ground-dependent, though, and if there is any soft in the going description I would favour Thundering Nights, who plundered the Pretty Polly Stakes over this course and distance earlier in the season and handles an ease well. She looks a fair bet at around 3-1.
Tom I'm still a believer in Love but I don't want to be taking the 11-10, especially if the forecast rain falls. La Petite Coco is an intriguing runner for the shrewd Paddy Twomey, but it'll just be a watching brief for me.
Saturday's race previews:
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