Today’s free horse racing tips: The Betting Spy’s top picks for this weekend's racing at Newbury and York
THE John Smith's Cup at York (2.30) is the big race of the day and recent winners generally have been progressive, lightly-raced four or five-year-olds who have a few pounds in hand of the handicapper.
The prime candidate to fill that position this year is FIFTH POSITION.
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He has always been well regarded in the Roger Varian stable and ran in Listed company last term. He was not quite ready for that level but that has helped him start this year on a very workable rating.
He started out over an inadequate mile in the red-hot handicap at Newcastle won by Sir Busker from Dark Vision in which Fifth Position was a staying-on third. The winner is now rated 15lb higher, the runner-up 12lb.
Fifth Position has since won over 1m2f at Doncaster but has only been nudged up 5lb. He is clearly on a winnable mark and, after just seven starts, is open to plenty more improvement. The trip suits and, as the runners tend to come wide into the straight at York, high draws have been favoured in recent times so stall 17 is probably a plus.
Pivoine won the race 12 months ago and is weighted to confirm the form with What's The Story and Afaak. He is fairly treated off just 2lb higher and loves York. But he has been off since February and connections have reported that the plan was to get a run into him before the attempted double. He should still go well but this is a race where everything needs to go to plan.
Desert Icon ran away with an uncompetitive Newmarket race last time and has been hiked up 9lb as a result. That looks harsh.
Euchen Glen won this in 2018 but has only raced twice since and is still 3lb higher, while Harrovian is sure to be popular with Frankie on board and he fits the winning profile although he only had a head to spare over Archie Perkins at Doncaster last time and the runner-up has a 3lb pull.
Michael Dods has had some smart sprinters in his time and he looks to have another potential star on his hands with QUE AMORO, who can continue her progress by taking the Listed City Walls Stakes (3.05).
She had a terrific season last year and easily won a Listed race at Ayr on her reappearance. She boasts course form figures of 211, on the last of those she comfortably beat Moss Gill, and looks sure to go very close.
Equilateral has never fulfilled his undoubted potential and some of his best efforts have been when fresh so his quick return is another negative.
Alpha Delphini is Group 1 class at best but will surely need the run. El Astronaute has a good track record and may be the biggest threat but he is seven now.
LA LUNE is the best bet on the card at Newbury in the Listed Aphrodite Stakes (3.25). She forced the high-class Antonia De Vega to pull out all the stops to land a similar race at Pontefract last time, with Makawee back in third, on her first race since winning a Salisbury novice 13 months earlier.
That run must have delighted trainer Henry Candy as it was only the third race of her career.
Vivid Diamond comes out top on official ratings but she was well beaten on her reappearance and her improvement last autumn came over an extended 1m6f.
Shailene has been a bit below her best this term but would be a big player if returning to the form she showed when winning a course-and-distance handicap last September.
Virgin Snow disappointed when favourite last time on the Tapeta at Newcastle but looked progressive earlier at Haydock. She is the pick of the three-year-olds and probably the big danger.
One of the best things to come out of post-lockdown has been the massive improvement in the quality of the Sunday Flat racing. This week we have Newbury and York, the original fixture list has one meeting at Redcar!
Rumours suggest next year we will revert to 'normal'. Let's hope not – what an irony to put on massively attractive cards that would probably produce good crowds when spectators are banned and then revert to the 'Sunday rubbish' with the attendances they deserve in 2021, no offence Redcar!
The best bet of the day may well be ALEMAGNA in a competitive fillies' staying handicap at Newbury (4.30). She reappeared at Sandown two weeks ago over an inadequate 1m2f and was not knocked about when staying on into third.
She won over 1m4f last season and this extended 1m5f should be ideal. All of David Simcock's horses have been showing significant improvement on their second start and, off the same mark as last time, Alemagna has lots going for her.
I spy an eyecatcher…
The juvenile events at Newmarket's July meeting are always full of well-bred types and the form invariably proves solid. Last Saturday's mile novice event was typical.
Stunning Beauty was a stunning winner but, just as worthy of entry in any notebook, was the third home PIRANESI.
He did not get the best of runs after a slow start on his first appearance but stayed on in terrific fashion to grab third.
It was noticeable that Cieren Fallon had trouble pulling him up and William Haggas clearly has a hugely promising staying two-year-old in his care.
Piranesi should find a maiden 'Esi' pickings before going on to something better.
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