ITV Racing Selections – Tips For All Seven ITV Races on Saturday

ITV Racing Selections – Saturday 20th August

The Sky Bet York Ebor Festival continues on Saturday with ITV broadcasting five of the seven live races. Racing Tips have provided insight into all five scheduled races on the Knavesmire as well as the two Group races from Sandown. Check those out below, alongside today’s best bets – which are free to view on-site now.

Mighty Ulysses (13:50 York)

York’s opening contest on Saturday can go the way of the progressive MIGHTY ULYSSES for John & Thady Gosden. 

Fifth on his seasonal reappearance at Epsom in April, Mighty Ulysses made it two wins from three starts with a dominant performance at Newmarket in May, sauntering effortlessly clear of a subsequent scorer to win by 4½ lengths off a mark of 95. Narrowly denied on his following start in handicap company at Haydock, Mighty Ulysses was pitched into the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, finishing fifth on that occasion, Mighty Ulysses was only beaten three parts of a length behind the 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus.

Faced with a much more straightforward task back down in Listed company,  John & Thady Gosden’s colt maintained his unbeaten record at Newmarket with another smart display over the mile trip, staying on noticeably well inside the closing stages to defeat subsequent Pomfret Stakes winner Alflaila by 1½ lengths. 

With the prospect of plenty more to come on just his seventh career outing, Mighty Ulysses will be difficult to beat as he returns to Group company this weekend and he can make the most of his useful weight for age allowance under Frankie Dettori. 

Grande Dame (14:05 Sandown)

It’s disappointing that Laurel doesn’t take up this engagement after creating a huge impression on her debut at Newmarket just last month. However, this Group 3 can still go the way of team Gosden as GRANDE DAME searches for her third career win from five starts. 

After defeating subsequent Group 3 winner Eternal Pearl on her debut at Ascot in April, Grande Dame was unfortunate not to keep her unbeaten start intact when narrowly defeated by the much more experienced Fonteyn in a Listed contest at York in May. Beaten a head, she was sent to contest the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on her next start but never threatened to land a blow behind her impressive stablemate Inspiral. Back in calmer waters at Sandown last month, Grande Dame resumed winning ways with a stylish performance in Listed company under Ryan Moore, forging clear inside the final furlong to defeat George Boughey’s subsequent triple Group 3 winner Oscula by 3¼ lengths. 

With the form of her latest victory working out extremely well, Grande Dame should be able to make her mark at Group 3 level on Saturday afternoon and it seems fairly significant that connections have already decided to enter her in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket in October. 

Soul Stopper (14:25 York)

Andrew Balding will be bidding for another winner in the Melrose after sending out Coltrane and Valley Forge to success in the last couple of renewals and will have high hopes of adding to that tally with SOUL STOPPER on Saturday afternoon. 

Despite failing to get his head in front in any of his three starts as a juvenile last term, Soul Stopper improved with each outing on track and rounded off his 2yo season with a neck second to Charlie Appleby’s subsequent Group 3 winner New London in a ten furlong maiden at Newmarket back in October. Disappointing on his seasonal return at Pontefract in April, Soul Stopper was subsequently gelded following his below-par effort and has certainly turned a corner in his recent outings following a short break. 

Off the mark at the fifth attempt at Salisbury over 1m4f on his penultimate start, Andrew Balding’s charge seemed to relish the step up to 1m6f at Chester on his handicap debut off a mark of 85 last time out. Facing just three rivals on that occasion, the three-year-old quickly asserted under P J McDonald and pulled effortlessly clear under hands and heels to win by five lengths. 

Andrew Balding’s progressive stayer will be expected to go close once again on Saturday afternoon despite an 8lb rise in the weights and given the yard’s recent record in this contest, Soul Stopper rates a confident selection and can record the hat-trick. 

Defence Of Fort (14:40 Sandown)

DEFENCE OF FORT was backed at big prices on his debut over seven furlongs at Ascot last month and the Starspangledbanner colt certainly didn’t disappoint those who had supported him.

Travelling strongly in behind the leaders, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s newcomer launched his challenge towards the near side rail with still over two furlongs to go. Hitting the front approaching the final furlong, Defence Of Fort quickened up smartly and soon left his rivals behind, stretching clear on the run to the line to win by an impressive 4¾ lengths. 

With the form of that contest working out particularly well (fourth has since won twice including a valuable handicap at York on Thursday), Defence Of Fort appears to be an exciting prospect for connections and he can maintain his unbeaten start at Sandown this weekend. 

Sacred (15:00 York)

William Haggas has already enjoyed a fine week on the Knavesmire and will be hopeful of making his mark on the final day of the Ebor Festival on Saturday afternoon. The Newmarket trainer will be searching for his third victory in the City Of York Stakes and appears to have a leading contender in this year’s renewal as SACRED bids to resume winning ways this weekend. 

A high-class juvenile, William Haggas’ filly finished runner-up on three occasions including in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and Lowther Stakes at York. Despite only seeing the track on three occasions last season as a 3yo, the talented daughter of Exceed and Excel impressively won two of those starts, quickening away stylishly in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn at Newmarket before again displaying a potent burst of pace to defeat Laneqash in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on her final outing. 

Following a 308-day break, she caught the eye when running on to finish fifth in the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot before filling the same position behind Sandrine in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at the Goodwood Festival. Beaten just under two lengths last time out, she was ultimately given too much to do under a hold-up ride from Tom Marquand that day and was doing all her best work late in the day.

Returning to a more conventional track, Sacred certainly has the ability to reverse the form with Andrew Balding’s filly on Saturday afternoon and she can land her third victory at Group level in the colours of Cheveley Park Stud. 

Okita Soushi (15:35 York)

This has seemingly been the plan for some time for the lightly-raced OKITA SOUSHI, who bids to provide Joseph O’Brien with his first victory in the valuable staying Handicap. An impressive winner on his debut at Fairyhouse last July, Joseph O’Brien’s colt returned for his 4yo campaign in May with a taking effort at the Curragh, finishing runner-up behind stablemate and subsequent Group 3 winner Raise You in a Listed contest over twelve furlongs.

Well supported on his handicap debut in the Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Okita Soushi went down as one of the biggest eye-catchers of the entire meeting in defeat, hitting the line strongly on his first start over 1m6f to finish third behind Chester Cup winner Cleveland and David O’Meara’s progressive handicapper Get Shirty. Beaten two lengths, he ultimately failed to reel in stablemate Shoshone Warrior on his following start in a conditions event at Leopardstown last month when trying to concede a stone to that rival over 1m7f. 

By Galileo out of a Grade 1 winner in Australia, he is bred to be a Pattern horse in time and it’s no surprise that connections have already given him preliminary entries in the Group 1 Irish St Leger and Group 2 Long Distance Cup at Ascot towards the end of the season and he ought to be going close in Saturday’s feature handicap from a mark of 106. 

Regional (16:10 York)

The Constantine Handicap can go the way of REGIONAL, who has proven to be a shrewd acquisition to Ed Bethell’s North Yorkshire yard after picking up the sprinter for just 3,500gns at the Tattersalls July Sale last year. 

Highly tried at Listed level as a juvenile for Richard Fahey, Regional certainly didn’t take long to make an immediate impression for new connections, comfortably landing a six-furlong handicap at Haydock on his handicap/stable debut last September. Evidently held in high regard, he was flown out to Doha to contest the Group 3 Dukhan Sprint earlier this year where he put up a career-best performance to finish a clear second, rewarding connections’ faith and picking up £45,000 in prize money in the process.  

Not beaten far back on British soil over six furlongs at Epsom in June, Ed Bethell’s sprinter produced an eye-catching effort back over five furlongs at Doncaster last month. Staying on strongly inside the closing stages, Regional was beaten just a neck by Paul Midgley’s in-form four-year-old Burning Cash and certainly hinted that a return to six furlongs would very much suit him. 

Well supported in the Stewards Cup at the Goodwood Festival three weeks ago, the four-year-old was arguably unlucky not to finish a lot closer when crossing the line in third under Ryan Moore. Slowly away, Ed Bethell’s charge soon found himself well positioned towards the favoured stands side rail. Waiting for a gap to appear, Regional travelled strongly inside the closing stages but was badly checked in running by the eventual second when trying to launch his challenge.  

Suited by a sound surface underfoot, Regional should have his optimum conditions on Saturday afternoon and a bold bid looks assured from Ed Bethell’s progressive sprinter.