BATED BREATH FOR A GREAT DAY’S RACING: The Haydock Sprint Cup and the Irish Champion Stakes top a fabulous day’s racing, with Bated Breath (pictured) and Nathaniel Daqman’s principal picks.

16.0 AND 15.5 JACKPOT BETS: Only once today does Daqman raise his stakes to jackpot level, and that’s in the belief that Ascot specialists will fight out the 3.45 at 16.0 and 15.5 on BETDAQ this morning.

2.15 Haydock (Be Friendly Handicap) Be Friendly would have made mincemeat of these, and there is no standout today. But a useful draw guide to the big sprint later on, with the pace and the form seemingly high in this.

I’m not a Face The Problem (stall 15) fan at this level; he has yet to break out of class 3. So I’m splitting my stakes between last year’s winner, Zero Money (in 11), and the improver, Long Awaited (9), for whom Richard Hughes is an eyecatching booking. Both are 7.2 on BETDAQ as I write.

Tax Free has had his annual win and the rest don’t look likely, though Lexi’s Hero could be the surprise packet if finally finding the revs after more appearances in August than Prince Harry’s bottom.

3.25 Haydock Sprint Cup (form preview in Tuesday Archive) The ground has gone against Confessional, Elusivity and Gordon Lord Byron, and in favour of Bated Breath, Hawkeyethenoo, Hitchens and Strong Suit.

But, as I said on Tuesday, Wizz Kid’s second to Deacon Blues at Ascot was on very fast ground, and Ortensia’s stable has always maintained that she is better on a sound surface.

She proved in a different league in the King George at Goodwood (Group 2) but it was her tremendous late surge to win the Nunthorpe that really caught the eye, snatching this Group 1 with a thundering run on the rails from a seemingly impossible position.

Bated Breath was in front of Ortensia in the Kings Stand Stakes, and now has the ground that produced his scintillating Temple Stakes success on today’s course (5f Group 2, firm) in May.

It is also the terrain on which Hawkeyethenoo won the Victoria Cup (7f) at Ascot around that time last year, and the fast-run race will engage the overdrive from his stamina when others have cried enough.

Strong Suit has even better form over further and, like Ortensia and ‘Hawkeye’, detested the July Cup mud. Conditions and the pace are spot on today.

The improver of the race is Gordon Lord Byron; the handicapper says he’s an 8lb better horse on his last two runs. Though he’s never scored on turf without ‘soft’ in the going description, he is a dual Polytrack winner.

When all is said and done, the stats suggest that preference must be for the younger specialist sprinter: I was on 16.5 Wizz Kid in my preview column (in fact, she was 17.0 on BETDAQ during the day) and I have to take some Bated Breath in these conditions.

The saver is Ortensia, though, if she can blow this terrific field away, she will go home with as big a reputation than Black Caviar. The Aussies breed ‘em fast and they breed ‘em tough.

3.45 Ascot: Field Of Dream, fourth in the Royal Hunt Cup, is a different horse at Ascot, witness his CD win in July from several of today’s opponents. BETDAQ offers of 16.0 look too big.

Imperial Guest has had his win and has never scored so high in the ratings; ditto Primaeval. Bertiewhittle has been falling short but not by much.

However, Paul Hanagan prefers Bertie’s stablemate Castles In The Air, another Ascot specialist, and another ‘too big’ at 15.5. Could be his turn.

4.00 Haydock (Old Borough Cup) Address Unknown loves these fast conditions, and went clear at Ascot over further. Gosbeck, too, likes it fast; she looked good last time out but it was a small field. In both cases, however, the times were really slow.

Tropical Beat and Sir Graham Wade have run better races in today’s grade but have to show that they are as effective stepped up in trip. Lyric Street was third at York at a higher level (Listed) and at today’s distance and is very lightly raced.

Three-year-olds haven’t been seen in this for the past two years but before that were always in the frame, with 4-7 in the last decade, two of them trained by Mark Johnston.

So it is that I side with Johnston’s Sir Graham Wade (8.8 on BETDAQ) but with a pound on another of his, Moon Trip (18.0), on that old standby basis ‘you never know.’ His best form is over further and lower class but today’s pace could bring out his stamina.

4.15 Ascot When three top trainers have half the field – nine runners between Haggas, Johnston and Stoute – it’s hard to have a bet, yet the market claims it for a two-horse race.

That says to me: look outside the front pair. I did, and decided on the Haggas second-string, Stencive (12.0 on BETDAQ), better off with the winner here after splitting Gospel Choir and Sir Graham Wade at Haydock.

Sun Central’s reputation depends on the musical-jockeys Shergar day win; Ahzeemah barely gets the trip; Martin Chuzzlewit is second time in the visors and no guarantee they’ll work again. So the danger may be Hajras (12.0), said to be better than the bare form and stepping up to his likely best trip.

5.45 Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes, see form preview on Monday): The intrigues here are whether Nathaniel has enough of an edge on him with John Gosden publicly admitting that the horse has been let down and is being brought back with the Arc as his target.

And whether Snow Fairy has improved enough to bridge the 5lb or so that she needs to find on Nathaniel, according to the last official ratings.

The Gosden statement could bring Nathaniel and Snow Fairy close together, and she’s already getting a 3lb fillies-and-mares allowance.

Snow Fairy also has the advantage of being comparatively fresh, whereas St Nicholas Abbey – almost equally matched with her on the ratings – has been on the go since March, though he is the local hero and his trainer has won this seven times in 10 years.

The downside of Snow Fairy’s Deauville comeback win is that even animals of her calibre can bounce second run back after a long absence.

On this score, her supporters will point to her Epsom Oaks win an even shorter time after her debut Height Of Fashion trial success at Goodwood last season.

It was rock-hard ground for her back-to-back Grade-1 wins in Japan, so today’s firm surface also seems to be an edge.

However, I remember Gosden’s Nathaniel warning before the Eclipse that his colt was aimed at the King George. He won at Sandown and nearly won at Ascot, pipped only by an Arc winner. Class will out.

BET 3.2pts win on each LONG AWAITED and ZERO MONEY (2.15 Haydock)
BET 6pts win BATED BREATH and 2pts win (stakes saver) ORTENSIA (3.25 Haydock)
WIN-30 JACKPOT: BET 2pts win on each FIELD OF DREAM and CASTLES IN THE AIR (3.45 Ascot)
BET 2.5pts win SIR GRAHAM WADE and 1.1pts win and place MOON TRIP, with 1pt win (stakes saver) TROPICAL BEAT (4.00 Haydock)
BET 1.8pts win on each HAJRAS and STENCIVE (4.15 Ascot)
BET 10pts win (nap) NATHANIEL (5.45 Leopardstown)
ANTE-POST: Wizz Kid at 16.5 (3.25 Haydock)

* Daqman’s win bets are staked to win 20 points (except when raised to jackpot level), so normally you divide 20 by his stake to arrive at the offer taken at the time of making the selection.

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