Friday 23 August horse racing tips – Big-race Lucky 63 for Friday’s feature races across the UK and Ireland

The Curragh hosts two Group Two contests during its' Friday evening fixture.

The Curragh hosts two Group Two contests during its’ Friday evening fixture.

Brian Healy gives his race-by-race selections and best bets for the pick of Friday’s UK and Irish horse racing action at York, Curragh and Salisbury.

There is plenty of top-class horse racing action going to post on Friday across the UK and Ireland, and in addition to three cracking Group One and Group Two contests on the Knavesmire at York where the Ebor Festival meeting continues, there is also Group Two action from Ireland at the Curragh with both the Debutante Stakes and the Futurity Stakes’ while there is also Listed action at Salisbury with an excellent renewal of the Stonehenge Stakes.

2:25 York – Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (Group 2) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m½f
3:00 York – Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (2yo) 6f
3:35 York – Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (2yo+) 5f
6:40 Curragh – Debutante Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (2yo) 7f
6:50 Salisbury – Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Stonehenge Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (2yo) 1m
7:10 Curragh – Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes (Group 2) (2yo) 7f

Brian Healy combines Friday’s pick of the days’ action in the UK and Ireland into a potentially profitable Lucky 63, and he gives his selections for the day’s premier races.

2:25 York – Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (Group 2) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m½f

STRADIVARIUS (1/2, William Hill) can continue to prove he’s the best stayer around by notching up another win in this race and extending his winning sequence to nine in a row.

The Sea The Stars entire has already dispatched main rival Dee Ex Bee twice this term already, beating Mark Johnston’s charge in both the Ascot Gold cup and the Goodwood equivalent last month, and he ought to prove a very tough nut to crack once more.

He is 3-3 on the Knavesmire, winning last season’s Yorkshire Cup and the corresponding race twelve months ago, and he staged a successful title defence of the former despite not being match-sharp back in May before his subsequent defeats of Dee Ex Bee.

He has to give 3lbs to that rival now, but having won both starts against the Johnston runner in easier fashion than the winning margins suggest, he can beat him again here despite the weight concession to land a second successive Stayers’ Triple Crown.


Stradivarius will prove a tough nut to crack in defence of his Yorkshire Cup crown

3:00 York – Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) (Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (2yo) 6f

Threat is the clear pick on form following near-misses in the Coventry Stakes and Richmond Stakes respectively; but having been outbattled in the latter he could be worth taking on with SPARTAN FIGHTER (7/1, Bet365) who arrives here on the back of a pair of wins, and the Dutch Art colt can find further improvement stepped up to this distance.

Declan Carroll’s charge possibly needed the experience when only finishing fourth on his debut at Carlisle back in May; but he stepped up on that performance to beat dual-Group Two winner A’Ali at Ripon next time out, battling back strongly once headed to score by a neck.

He was made to work harder than he’d have wanted to when carrying a penalty for his last run where he beat Fanzone over an extended five furlongs here last month, but he was ultimately well on top at the line and could well have significant progress still to come as he steps up markedly in class here.

This is clearly going to be a much tougher test of his credentials, but likely to appreciate the stiffer test of stamina he can improve again and he’s one to keep on the right side of for now for all he would possibly prefer some easing of the ground.

3:35 York – Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (2yo+) 5f

An on-song Battaash would be entitled to go close, but Charlie Hills’ charge has already failed twice in this race and York possibly doesn’t show him at his best. Mabs’ Cross meanwhile can post another big run as she bids to go one better than twelve months ago, and there is no Alpha Delfini in the field this time around to thwart Michael Dods’ charge.

However, TEN SOVEREIGNS (6/4, Paddy Power) produced a top-drawer performance to hammer a few of these rivals in the July Cup last month, and a repeat of that effort should see Aidan O’Brien’s charge home in front again.

The runner-up from that race has since won a Group One in France, while two other winners have also come out of the race with successes at Group Two and Listed level so the form looks very strong.

He has come back to his best over sprint trips since failing to see out the one mile in the 2000 Guineas, and he was a shade flat when disappointing behind Advertise in the Coronation Cup. However, his Newmarket run showed the No Nay Never colt to be back to his best, and he could take plenty of beating here if the drop to five furlongs doesn’t catch him out.

Ten Sovereigns

Ten Sovereigns can win the Nunthorpe Stakes on day three of York

6:40 Curragh – Debutante Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (2yo) 7f

Aidan O’Brien has a fantastic record in this Group Two contest, with twelve wins to his name including three of the last four; and the Ballydoyle maestro again has a strong line-up to contest this race which he has won in the recent past with the likes of Magical, Rhododendron and Tapestry.

He saddles four of the nine runners here, and LOVE (11/8, Ladbrokes) looks the pick of the bunch as he sets out in search of a hat-trick of wins having already collected twice this season at Leopardstown from four starts.

The latest of those wins came in the Group Three Silver Flash Stakes where he ran out a three lengths victor over Unforgetable, and the Galileo filly looks sure to improve further given she appeared to win that race with something to spare.

She had a couple of these rivals in behind her that day, including stablemate So Wonderful, while she has beaten most of the rest of this field in prior starts. She could prove hard to beat with the promise of more to come, and she can collect the three-timer.

6:50 Salisbury – Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Stonehenge Stakes (Listed Race) Cl1 (2yo) 1m

Mark Johnston and Franny Norton have combined to win two of the last three renewals of this Listed prize, and his GOVERNER OF PUNJAB (11/4, Unibet) can give the Middleham trainer a fourth win overall in the contest.

The smart Mildenberger won for the trainer two seasons ago, and the Footstepsinthesand colt has proven to be a progressive sort this term, building on his debut fifth at Thirsk which was needed to reel off a hat-trick of subsequent wins which include in a Goodwood handicap last time out.

He had one length to spare on that occasion over Sword Beach, finishing the race strongly and winning a shade readily in the end. While that form has taken a couple of knocks since, he looks sure to improve further and he could take the rise in class into Listed company in his stride.

He overcame trouble in running in that Goodwood contest, while the manner in which he finished off the contest suggests he’ll be well suited by this stiffer test of stamina. And with the potential for better still to come, he can make the step up to this level where he can collect his biggest prize to date.

Mark Johnston

Mark Johnston can win another Stonehenge Stakes crown

7:10 Curragh – Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes (Group 2) (2yo) 7f

Aidan O’Brien could land a Group Two treble on the Curragh card with ARMORY (8/11, Ladbrokes) who ought to prove a tough nut to crack as he seeks to land a hat-trick of wins.

The Ballydoyle maestro has won this race twelve times in the past with the likes of Anthony Van Dyck, Churchill and Gleneagles in recent years, and with four of the nine runners in the line-up he boasts another strong hand as he bids to collect another win in the contest and Armory looks the pick of the quartet.

Already a dual-winner this term, building on a promising debut third at Leopardstown to get off the mark over course next time out, he stepped up again to rout a decent field by five lengths in the Group Three Tyros Stakes when last seen out in July and with the potential for further improvement to come he could prove hard to beat.

He had five lengths to spare over stablemate Toronto, quickly asserting and going clear between the final two furlongs to post a hugely impressive win over three useful rivals and hinting that there was better still to come.

The Galileo colt is sure to have further progress and improvement to come, and he looks a top-class prospect who can land his three-timer here.


2:25 York – STRADIVARIUS (1/2, William Hill)
3:00 York – SPARTAN FIGHTER (7/1, Bet365)
3:35 York – TEN SOVEREIGNS (6/4, Paddy Power)
6:40 Curragh – LOVE (11/8, Ladbrokes)
6:50 Salisbury – GOVERNER OF PUNJAB (11/4, Unibet)
7:10 Curragh – ARMORY (8/11, Ladbrokes)