Talking Horses: Aloha Star could cause Phoenix Stakes upset at 16-1

Chris Cook
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: PA Wire/PA</span>
Photograph: PA Wire/PA

In a hot-looking Phoenix Stakes with barely a runner that can be safely discounted, Aloha Star (3.10) looks the over-priced one at 16-1. An obvious contender according to several ratings systems, she is not being taken seriously by punters, just as when she won a Group Two over the same course and distance at 33-1 last month, but can land the feature race of ITV3’s Sunday coverage.

Related: Ascot still has hopes for a crowd on Champions Day despite prize fund cut

It was easy to like the way she quickened to pass more fancied rivals last time and a stronger pace and a faster surface should both help her. She comes from the Stack yard that has never won a Phoenix but knows how to handle a zippy juvenile.

Steel Bull impressed at Goodwood but this extra furlong is a new test and he has had just 11 days to recover. The Lir Jet is a short price considering his Norfolk Stakes win is not yet working out and he was chinned in a finish of inches next time, by a horse that had been behind him at Ascot.

Giorgio Vasari might be worth a saver at 20-1 in case he sets a steady, sustainable pace that would not help the selection. On jockey bookings, he appears to be Aidan O’Brien’s third string but we have surely learned by now not to be put off by such things. He is progressive and was supplemented for this at a cost of 20,000.

1.40 Salisbury Speaking of horses in whom punters have no faith, Tip Two Win is worth a second look as he seeks his first success for two and a half years. At some point after he ran second in the 2,000 Guineas, his career left the rails, but the first promise since then was shown in the Hackwood last month, when he was really motoring as he crossed the line in fifth. This extra furlong appears necessary and he is a fair bet against three rivals with their own questions to answer.

1.55 Thirsk Well supported since betting opened, Watchable can get another day in the sun. He got to a high mark after an all-weather win in February but has dropped 8lb since and showed on Thursday that he is ready to win again when headed on the line at Ripon. This return to the minimum distance should help.

2.15 Salisbury He appears tricky but this step back to five furlongs could be what Mr Kiki needs. He responded well to blinkers when scoring on his first start for Ralph Beckett but his chance next time was killed off by a slipping saddle, possibly related to his headstrong ways. Speedily bred, he could reward being given another chance.

2.30 Thirsk An improved sprinter this year, after a gelding operation, Abate can take another step forward here. The draw may have been a factor but he impressed in beating a big field by daylight at York.

2.50 Salisbury After two placed efforts in better races, Salayel can get her first win since she was trained in the UAE early last year. She was only collared late after helping force the pace in the Silver Hunt Cup and the form of her Pipalong third looks better after the subsequent efforts by Lady Bowthorpe and Posted, who finished behind her. She can outclass these younger rivals.

3.25 Salisbury Big-field Royal Ascot form may also stand up here, with Motakhayyel looking the right favourite for this Sovereign Stakes. The Buckingham Palace winner in June, he followed up with the Bunbury Cup in July, beating the Silver Hunt Cup winner. A strong traveller, he can take this step up in grade in his stride and deliver victory for an owner who has had a frustrating time of it in this race.

Salisbury 

12.40 Minzaal (nb) 1.10 Kodiac Pride 1.40 Tip Two Win 2.15 Mr Kiki 2.50 Salayel (nap) 3.25 Motakhayyel 4.00 Itkaan 4.30 Awesomedude 5.05 By Jove 

Thirsk 

12.50 Riffaa Wonder 1.20 Al Mansoura 1.55 Watchable 2.30 Abate 3.05 Sfumato 3.35 Balavad 4.10 Qaysar 4.45 High Security 5.20 Grand Canal 

Windsor 

1.00 Mary Cassatt 1.30 Under Curfew 2.05 Star Cactus 2.40 Kodiline 3.15 Springvale Lad 3.50 Royal Appointment 4.20 First Winter 4.55 Labeebb 5.30 Chosen Star 

3.40 Curragh Six furlongs and a drying surface are what Millisle wants and Jessica Harrington’s filly rediscovered some of last year’s magic when scooting up at Naas last time. She has enough pace to master Speak In Colours in this Group Three.

Hollie Doyle starts new job with Elusive success

Saturday proved another big day in the young career of Hollie Doyle, who delivered an inspired ride on the previously frustrating Extra Elusive to land Haydock’s Rose Of Lancaster Stakes. That made for an ideal start to Doyle’s retainer with the owner, Imad Al Sagar, announced a fortnight ago, as this was her first Group-race ride in the green silks made famous some years ago by Authorized.

Extra Elusive has no pretensions to Authorized’s ability but connections must have had hopes for him when he beat a big field on his debut. Alas, the ball has not bounced his way for some time and, before Saturday, he was on an eight-race losing run that stretched back two years, a tendency to pull hard under restraint having been part of the problem.

With Doyle climbing aboard for the first time, Al Sagar and the trainer, Roger Charlton, suggested a different approach, which she delivered perfectly. “I just dropped my hands out the gates and rode him where he was happy and he happened to settle quite well in front,” the 23-year-old told RacingTV.

As a result, Extra Elusive turned around previous form with Global Giant, the Frankie Dettori-ridden odds-on favourite.

“They left me alone for the first half-mile, which really suited,” Doyle said. “As soon as we turned in, I got taken on by the Channon horse but I managed to just reserve a bit. He’s a very good horse on his day, he just needs things to fall right.”

Charlton said: “Hollie gave him a great ride. She hasn’t ridden much for me, apart from one or two lightweights, but she’s demonstrating her skills on a daily basis with the winners she’s riding.”

Adding that Doyle was both brave and strong, the trainer suggested the only problem with employing the eight-stoner was the amount of lead in the saddle he had had to carry to the racecourse stables.

Doyle’s form figures in her first week riding for Al Sagar now read: 2131. The other success was her first for John Gosden and the chance to ride for new stables must be a major part of the job’s appeal. Al Sagar is evidently pleased with his choice, as his breeding operation, Blue Diamond Stud, tweeted about “Another terrific ride”.