Sky Sports Racing’s senior analyst Jamie Lynch takes a close look at each of the six races on week two of Racing League and selects his ones to watch and lively longshots.
Race 1 – five furlongs
One to watch – BALLINTOY HARBOUR (Team Arena)
Team Arena’s two Pauls, trainer Midgley and jockey Mulrennan, combined to win the opening five-furlong event in week one and are playing another ace with Ballintoy Harbour.
The three-year-old filly is the hottest horse in the race by virtue of her low mileage (just 6 races) and high standards.
On her last start at Newmarket, she decisively dealt with Clarendon House, who has won not once but twice since.
Lively longshot – EQUITATION (Racehorse Lotto)
A mark of 79 is the lowest he has been in the handicap since 2017 and has shown at times this season that he’s still got what it takes, notably when third to Arecibo at Newmarket in April.
He had a break prior to his last run, possibly in preparation for this, and is deployed by the team at a track where he has won in the past.
This will be the first time in his 36-race career that he will wear headgear (cheekpieces), to find an extra edge.
Race 2 – six furlongs
One to watch – JONAH JONES (Team Swish)
Something of an enigma, as his career feels like talent short-changed and he’s yet to win a handicap from 12 attempts, including five times as favourite.
However, if he’s in the mood he could pick this lot up and carry them, in an easier race than he normally faces and with the added help of the 5 lb claim by Saffie Osborne.
One or both of the break (three months) and blinkers (first time) may stimulate him, and Ed Walker’s stable couldn’t be going better.
Lively longshot – I AM A DREAMER (Team Arena)
He hasn’t had the rub of the green on his last two runs and it’s too soon to be forgetting that, in early June, he gave a fright to Commanche Falls, who won the Stewards’ Cup on Saturday.
Furthermore, his set style is racing nearer the pace than the vast majority of his rivals, so he may be less compromised than most if this turns tactical.
Race 3 – seven furlongs
One to watch – DILAWARA (Team Ireland)
Doncaster is due some rain ahead of, and on, Thursday, and the softer the ground gets the better for Dilawara, who won a 12-runner handicap at Longchamp last October by eight lengths.
Bought privately by Joseph O’Brien for €70,000, very possibly with the Racing League in mind, her reappearance in a big field at Leopardstown was highly encouraging, beaten just one-and-a-quarter lengths into seventh despite traffic trouble.
She should be spot on for this and a mark of 88 may well undersell her.
Race 4 – one mile
One to watch – AIR TO AIR (Racehorse Lotto)
Racing League handicaps are 0-90, all-aged events and tough to win but still a far cry from the Britannia which is the Royal Ascot meeting point for the best three-year-old handicappers at a mile. That was a 29-runner race this year, and favourite out of all of them was Air To Air.
Lots went wrong for Air To Air, not least racing on the wrong side, as well as losing a shoe, but he’s on the same handicap mark for this as he was the Britannia.
He was sent off as short as 11-2 for that because of an easy win over this course and distance and Nicola Currie is unbeaten in one start on him.
Race 5 – one-mile-and-two-furlongs
One to watch – RUSSIAN VIRTUE (Team BullionVault)
The beauty of the handicap system is the fluidity with which horses’ marks move up and down depending on their performance from race to race.
So, it’s rare in the extreme to come across one like Russian Virtue, for whom this will be a sixth start in handicaps, and all six have come off 77.
In his case, it reflects not consistency but uncertainty. One step forward and one back in a stuttering season.
But the two times he’s shaped best came, firstly at Doncaster, and secondly over 10 furlongs, and that combination this time may be the recipe for success for him. His trainer David Menuisier has sent out five winners in the last fortnight.
Race 6 – one-mile-and-four-furlongs
One to watch – AMIR KABIR (Team ODDSbible)
Amir Kabir has shown bit-by-bit improvement right through his career, up until last time at Newmarket, but it’s easy enough to excuse that as he got drawn into doing too much too soon.
Expect a more patient ride here and, after just the two attempts, he’s still unexposed at this distance.
Some of his form is strong, especially his third in the spring at Newbury, a course similar in configuration to Doncaster.
Lively longshot – FRONTISPIECE (Team BullionVault)
He has been given a short break since looking slightly sour, but the upshot is his lowest handicap mark since 2017, and he has a good record when freshened up (finished first or second four times after a lay-off).
The fact he stays further may be a benefit if the race plays out as projected, and Amanda Perrett’s string has turned a corner recently.